Foreign Affairs

Ranil Wickremesinghe’s Cutting Edge

By Malinda Seneviratne

Malinda Seneviratne

Malinda Seneviratne

Ranil Wickremesinghe is a man besieged. He has or has permitted himself to be surrounded by a bunch of self-serving politicians who are currently as thick as thieves with the very same lot who benefitted from the earlier regime and whose naughtiness helped bring that regime down.

Exactly where are these principled folks who supported him when he decided to back Maithripala? Who truly benefited from ‘regime change’? Competent, decent, civilised, truthful males and women of integrity or a nitwits, hangers-on, thugs and thieves? He knows the answer and he should know that the expertise is not his preserve. Folks know.

But that is ok. This business known as politics is not about any of these things. It is about energy. Plain and easy. And in that game, right now at least, Ranil Wickremesinghe has an edge. A big edge. An executive edge, in fact. That edge has a name. Maithripala Sirisena.

Ranil hasn’t very said it but it popped out of the venerable mouth of extended time UNP supporter, Rev Maduluwawe Sobitha Thero the other day. The Thero, now a very good-governance advocate, now a UNP supporter, now once more a lamenter about errors of judgment, has spoken when the time was appropriate. He desires President Maithripala Sirisena to play a neutral part in the upcoming General Election. He even complains that the President hasn’t been quite neutral of late. The Thero is upset that Sirisena has stated he wanted his party to win! That, he claims, is proof that Sirisena is guilty of being partial! The Thero obviously has no clue about Sirisena’s role in bailing out Ranil Wickremesinghe’s boys by dissolving Parliament before the COPE report on the Bond scam came out. Now Rev Sobitha Thero does not see that as getting ‘partial’. Strange? No. As mentioned, it is identified that Rev Sobitha is for the greens.

RanilSo what would happen if Sirisena requires the Thero’s advise? It signifies that the UNP’s essential opponent, the Sri Lanka Freedom Party (SLFP) would ideally, i.e. according to the Thero of course, campaign with no a leader. If the UNP has ‘incumbancy edge’ even although it is far significantly less potent than the advantage enjoyed by the SLFP-led United People’s Freedom Alliance (UPFA) in 2010, that edge would be amplified by possessing to contend with a leader-much less opponent.

What’s interesting right here is that the very good Thero need not even ask. After all Mathripala Sirisena is carrying out a decent job of ‘keeping away’ all by himself and even going a lot additional, becoming comfy with the UNP. Here’s why.

From Day 1, i.e. soon after becoming conferred the Leader-post of the SLFP Maithripala has had a enjoy-hate relationship with the rank and file of the celebration. Component of this is understandable. He abandoned the celebration and the party was upset for the duration of the run up to the election he was attacked mercilessly. One can’t anticipate him to be thrilled by all that. It was mostly as a product of adapting to new realities that they installed him as celebration leader. Even following carrying out that they have been ambivalent in their views on the man. Officially some of them were portion of the ‘National Government’ even as their colleagues have been known as ‘The Opposition’. That confusion apart they have openly backed Mahinda Rajapaksa and campaigned to push the President to accept his former boss and later opponent as the prime ministerial candidate of the SLFP. Once more, this cannot thrill Sirisena.

Then there’s a question of colour-blindness which could be cause or impact of perceptions and relations vis-a-vis Mahinda Rajapaksa. As of now when confronted by the colour green, Sirisena behaves as even though he’s seeing blue. Blue provides a number of issues for him. He initial sees ‘red’ (feel of the bull metaphor). Then he sees the color of kurahan, yes, Mahinda’s colour. The complete colour enterprise is confusing him. And others too, one may add, particularly these in the celebration he leads. Luckily for Sirisena (and the UNP), this color blindness is not costing him, Sirisena, any sleep.

The President has ample cause to be wary of Mahinda Rajapaksa provided the latter’s vindictive history. On the other hand, becoming vengeful in return can also cost him. Imagine the (reputable) antipathy to Rajapaksa getting so deep that he let’s the celebration split and pave the way for a by-default win for the UNP. Exactly where would that leave him? Obtaining essentially followed the Sobitha-Thero strategy, he can’t count on something from the SLFP MPs except righteous derision. If he is Ranil’s yes-man now in such a situation he would be a 3-bags-complete-sir man no doubt. He could suffer all that only on one particular condition: he is content becoming play-thing, puppy dog’s tail and rubber-stamper for everything Ranil says and does.

As factors stand that is exactly where Maithripala is heading. This is why he is Ranil’s edge. His ‘cutting edge’ in reality for Ranil has efficiently arranged things in such a way that Maithri uses his (Maithri’s) presidential edge to reduce, chop and cleave as Ranil dictates. It is excellent for Ranil.

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