The future of democracy in Sri Lanka is in imminent peril. The visible crumbling of the UNP, the main opposition party and the party that was held high for its democratic principles in the past, is the biggest threat to Sri Lankan democracy.
No one needs special intelligence to figure out or identify the cause of the UNP’s troubles. Quite apparently it should be attributed to the intransigence and stubbornness of its election losing specialist leader Ranil Wickremasinghe (RW) who despite his immense weaknesses and failures, does not want to see any of his subordinates supersede him in the party, courtesy some of his cronies at the helm, who in turn work for their own survival at the cost of the total annihilation of the grand old party that is currently debilitated beyond measure and thus sinking day by day.
This situation was once clearly expressed unequivocally by none other than the most eminent and renowned political analyst of international repute, Dr. Dayan Jayathilake who in one of his analytical articles wrote very emphatically under the caption “UNP’S CRISIS OF EXISTENCE” that, “The UNP is sinking not because of disunity. It is sinking because of Ranil Wickremasinghe”. In parliament and on public platforms RW is well known as a defender of democracy. He would speak of “Janatha Paramadhipathya” even in the remotest villages in the country whether the village folk understood such terms or not.
While apparently crusading for democratic rights like a knight in shining armour he is revengefully and with utmost hatred stifling intra-party democracy perceivably with the support of his handpicked cohorts in the working committee. This is highly deplorable and is viewed with utmost contempt by the party faithful throughout the country.
A more recent case in point is the undemocratic appointment of the party National Organizer. This was done when Ranil arbitrarily appointed a person of his choice bypassing the proposed and seconded candidacy of Ranjith Maddhuma Bandara (RMB) at the working committee meeting without any other candidates’ names being proposed. This high handed act itself proves his perennial animosity towards RMB. He (RW) instructed voters in the Monaragala district to not cast their votes for RMB during the last parliamentary elections held in April 2010. However, the people of the district returned Bandara to Parliament with the highest number of preferential votes. Such mean and despicable acts unbecoming of a respectable leader prevail in the UNP leadership.
In 2001 when two persons were killed during the Jana Bala Meheyuma, Ranil stated that they gave up their lives to protect democracy. This prompts party seniors to say that the very person who fought to protect democracy at an earlier time is now fighting to bury it when it concerns intra-party democracy. More recently even the self immolation by party supporter Rienzie Algama, to express his disgust at the utter mess in the party, has failed to bring unity in the party and according to public belief it is Ranil as the leader who is mainly responsible for this mess.
The importance of a strong opposition is an essential criterion for a healthy democracy. Ranil should be made to understand that democracy means the choice of the majority of party members and not the decision of a few who are handpicked by the leader.
He should not consider the UNP to be his personal property or a family inheritance and he should understand that he has come to whatever position he is in today due to fortuitous circumstances, given the fact that if UNP stalwarts like Lalith, Gamini, Premachandra, Ossie and others were alive today Ranil would be nowhere among the high ranking members of the party.
A. W. M. Aiyoob, Galle
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