By Vishwamithra –
“Betrayal is the only truth that sticks.” ~ Arthur Miller
Chips have not yet fallen. Yet all bets seem to have been closed. The players are still on stage and enactment of a tragicomedy of unique style is taking a speedier pace. Players from yester-century do not show any fatigue; their despicable maneuvers and timely moves or non-moves continue to have some effects, how long they would last is yet unknown. While all these jokers have been playing an uncommon drama on this grand stage of indigenous politics, the audience keeps its attention glued to the stage. The grand finale is about to unfold!
Mahinda Rajapaksa seems to have exited from the platform. However, the residue in the form of his immediate siblings, apparently unaware of the grave consequences of prolongation of departure, keeps settling down at the bottom. A prohibitive degree of critique is being penned by some of our brightest journalists who have taken an unusual risk of being exposed in the ‘Aragalapitiya’. Their account shall certainly be an authentic interpretation of the day’s events and personalities.
The emergency rule and the curfew’s impositions do not matter anymore. Such manacles to man’s freedom and thought do not shackle the mind. As a matter of fact, they only produce and reproduce gleeful propensities to freer thought and freer action. Such is the song of freedom. Abundant and unchained, the cutest and the most melodious songs are being sung by today’s youth who are tomorrow’s masters. Serfdom to a family is no more; slavery to a yesteryear’s street dramas has given way to a more modern and up-to-date culture that is emerging from the dust and ashes of the Galle Face Green.
The prologue of the story was exceedingly harsh and shameful. Its characters and their idiosyncrasies are grossly anachronistic and their irrelevancies are being exposed layer by layer, coat by coat. The very superficiality and shallowness are being uncovered and continuing to reveal the decomposing interior which one would not take a second chance to discard without murmur. From beginning to the middle to the end of the prologue is stinking and the stench makes even the lowliest scavenger close his mouth and nostrils.
The Rajapaksa brothers have eaten up the body politic of Ceylon. Her ancient splendor, the smooth and gradual flow of her middle ages and her excruciatingly painful period under colonial rule are all hidden behind a curtain of shame and helplessness. The oft-repeated tributes to her Independence struggle have been proven a farce beyond question. The country’s elites have enjoyed real political power and the common man, as was grossly and inadmissibly misrepresented by the low-country aristocrats such as the Senanayakes, the Jayewardenes and the Bandaranaikes, is yet to find his place in the proverbial sun.
Transfer of power from foreign elite to indigenous elite is no real transfer of power. It’s unequivocally a deal between two elites whose vested interests and ambitions are more akin to each other’s than dissimilar to one another. Even the working classes were represented by Trade Unions which were led by tennis-playing foreign-educated Marxist-Leninists. A disenchanting potpourri of political activists and parliamentarians, Ministers, Prime Ministers and Presidents has made all of us look fools and jokers.
That is why we have been electing these political charlatans who preach one philosophy on platform and practice another one outside in their homes and smoke-filled, whiskey drinking cocktail parties.
Enter the 21st century and the 4th industrial revolution. The 4th Industrial Revolution is the 21st century convergence of digital, physical and bio technologies driving an unrelenting acceleration of human progress. Digital transformation of events and incidents and their unhinged speed at which it reaches the client-listener or watcher has transformed the world beyond all imagination. Unfortunately for the Rajapaksas, they are at the wrong place at the wrong time and in that convoluted context, Ranil Wickremesinghe has become the unintended fellow traveler to the Rajapaksas.
That 4th Industrial Revolution has had its effect on our youth too. No applause, no tributes and no songs of praise would suffice to describe the thought, action and conduct of our youth at the Aragalapitiya. But they too showed in no uncertain terms that their patience too has a threshold beyond which no aggressor or no wrong-doer would dare to cross.
And it happened, first inside the Temple Trees and thereafter on the streets spreading across the length and breadth of the land. No sympathizer, no supporter, no kith and kin of anyone associated with the true traitors of the cause of the nation would be spared-the valiant cry of the youth of the Aragalapitiya. Curfew was declared and Emergency Act was invoked. Under the cover of darkness and within the forlorn halls of the President’s House, formerly Queen’s House in Colombo, Ranil Wickremesinghe, one of the worst ever politicians to crowd an already-crowded room of politicians in Ceylon was sworn in as Prime Minister, as head of Government to pilot and steer the ship of State which was already rudderless and meandering along streets dotted with burning tires and ferocious fires.
A betrayal of uncommon proportion and unforgivable complexion was committed by Gotabaya Rajapaksa, President and the younger brother of the deposed Prime Minster, Mahinda Rajapaksa. Ranil Wickremesinghe, in fact, became the Prime Minister of the Pohottuwa government, replacing its disgraced predecessor Mahinda Rajapaksa. If this is no betrayal of the people’s faith, if this is no infidelity to the great mass of citizenry over whom the government of the day reigns, if this is no dismissal of an obligation so fondly and hopefully reposed in the election-winner Gotabaya Rajapaksa, then what is?
Instead of appeasing the fury and anger of the hundreds of thousands of men, women and youth, Gotabaya, in his superlative idiocy and unparalleled incompetence and with epic shortsightedness, chose to appoint Ranil as the new Prime Minister. Ranil Wickremesinghe is the current leader of the United National Party (UNP). In the last General Elections of 2020, the UNP was clobbered out of sight. Not a single nominee of the UNP was elected whilst Ranil himself lost the Colombo district outright. But by some confounding calculus of election of National List MPs, the UNP was awarded one member in Parliament. For the first time in Ceylon, a Prime Minister was selected who did not represent any person in the country.
No act of betrayal can be consummated without a traitor, a traitor who chooses to betray the cause of a country. By betraying his country and her people, both Ranil and Gotabaya have joined the (dis)enchanted circle of very small men and women who often prefer the self to a more noble cause. Yet, if one expects either Ranil or Gota to be noble or dignified, one is always exceeding his expectations.
But the repercussions of Ranil Wickremesinghe becoming the 26th Prime Minister of Ceylon are much greater than the eye can see. Amongst the oft-misplaced expectations that Ranil would entice foreign investments and foreign grants is a myth promoted by Ranil himself. His approach to resolution of complex issues is either procrastination or appointing committees.
The Galle Face protesters would not forgive either Ranil Wickremesinghe or Gotabaya Rajapaksa for this uncouth act of betrayal. When the entire country was nearly in one voice cried out for the Rajapaksas to go, when they pleaded with the ruling family junta to abdicate and hand over powers to a successor who is more qualified and empathetic towards the people, when the people, in no uncertain ways, showed that they would not compromise on the principles of accountability and transparency of power politics, naming and appointing a traitorous politician such as Ranil Wickremasinghe is a tremendous slap on the face of the protesters.
An old woman in the most rural hamlet, after offering flowers to the Buddha in her own shrine would curse the Rajapaksas; a middle-aged farmer after releasing water to his paddy plot which is starving of fertilizer would use a language which no small kids should be close to hear; no school teacher who has to reschedule her term test papers for her classes amidst this chaos would have no sympathy for the ruling family for disturbing and upsetting her own routine; and above all those thousands of youth who have decided to launch a movement whose end is nowhere near as those wishful thinkers in Colombo and those members of the Ceylonese diaspora envisioned have chosen to engage again and again and again.
That is the spirit that drives them to the end of endurance. That is the spirit that binds all of the together. That is the spirit that calls for an end to the unjust system of governance and unjust system of life in general. Indian Prime Minister, Nehru in his book ‘The Discovery of India’ most brilliantly described this ‘Spirit of Man’ in the following words: “How amazing is the spirit of man!…it is impossible to lose hope for him. In the midst of disaster he has not lost his dignity or his faith in the values he cherished. Plaything of nature’s mighty forces, less than a speck of dust in this vast universe, he has hurled defiance at the elemental powers, and with his mind, cradle of revolution, sought to master them. Whatever gods there may be, there is something godlike in man, as there is something of the devil in him.
The future is dark, uncertain. But we can see part of the way leading to it and can tread it with firm steps, remembering that nothing that can happen is likely to overcome the spirit of man which has survived many perils. Remembering also that life, for all its ills, has joy and beauty, and we can always wander, if we know how to, in the enchanted woods of nature.”
*The writer can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org