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The Fifth Column

20th June 1999

Verdict, how do you feel

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Mirror Magazine

My Dear Satellite,

I thought of writing to you now because I am sure you must be taking a little rest these days after all that hectic running around in the South for the polls in the last few weeks.

Well, I know that just after the results were announced on Friday morning, you issued a message thanking all those who voted for you. It appeared that you had burnt the midnight oil, listening to the results as they emerged. But then, knowing you, you would have had the message ready the day before and had a good sleep!

Anyway, Satellite, what do you think of the results? I know you called it a "scintillating victory" for the "heroic masses of Ruhuna", but your speechwriters use big words don't they? So, tell us Satellite, what you really feel about the verdict?

The statistics are there for all of us to see. I know you will say that you won the province because your party emerged as the single largest party. The greens on the other hand will say that they have increased their share of the vote. But we all know don't we that the real winners are the reds.

Now, what do you plan to do about that, satellite? I mean, these red chaps are a real nuisance aren't they? See, people like Thonda, Ashraff, Batty and Indika are sensible chaps. You give them a ministry or two and they are happy to grin from ear to ear and say "yes, madam" to everything that you say. But these red chaps are apparently a different kettle of fish. They don't want ministries, they don't want car permits and they don't even want their salaries. No wonder then, that they are not fighting for the 'manaape's!

So, the question is what you will do with them. That Tilvin chap, he does get on your nerves, doesn't he? There he is, beard, spectacles and all looking every inch like the reincarnation of Wijeweera, but telling you that he will never enter into any agreement with either you or Ranil! He has got just twelve per cent of the vote and he is talking as if he is the governor-general!

But the fact is, Satellite, you might have to listen to him. His twelve per cent might be the factor that will allow you to cling on to that Temple trees place for another six years so now it might be your turn to grin and bear it.

I know the good news is that the performance of the greens, though improved, is nowhere near winning proportions. Rather like Zimbabwe in the World Cup, I would say: a few surprises here and there but not good enough to win it all.

Even so, I think it is now time for you to take stock and ensure that Tilvin's twelve per cent doesn't become twenty percent in the rest of the country as it has happened in Hambantota. And, for that the first step must be a thorough reorganisation of those around you.

Now that you have got rid of the Berty Premalals and Nandimithras who have left for the provinces you must make sure that you give the correct job to the correct person. And if you make a mistake at this stage it can be costly- like Arjuna did by asking Eric Upashantha to bowl!

So, Satellite, take your time and select your team again. I suppose, like in cricket, you will need courage to drop those who have not performed but if you don't do so, you will be at Tilvin's mercy! So, best of luck!

Yours truly, Punchi Putha.

PS- And, talking of cricket Seeni Bola now says that he never asked Arjuna to leave. And he has appointed a new set of officials to run the Board. Now, Satellite, can you do us all a favour and give Seeni Bola something else to look after and appoint a competent man to handle sports?

Rajpal Abeynayake's Column

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