Political deals and President’s call for parties

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Ranil Wickremesinghe on Tuesday soon after his victory in the parliamentary secret ballot for interim Presidency extended an open invitation to all political parties and politicians to come together for a new program to usher in stability and progress. He said that post-election, there was no need for divisive politics but to work together.

As proven by history, every new President has extended such an olive branch to his or her opponents and made a compelling case why all should unite in the national interest.

Why some of the previous such overtures failed to draw Opposition parties is the lack of sincerity from the invitee and the very nature of divisive politics. However, more than ever due to the ongoing worst economic and social crisis, there is public outcry for all parties to come and work together and bring urgent relief to the people. The clergy, the private sector and professionals have appealed for the same.

Sentiments among the people, especially the activists have been further bruised by the disappointment over how the majority of the Members of Parliament voted to elect the interim President on Tuesday.  It was felt that the outcome in Parliament did not truly reflect the public sentiment nor did MPs give due consideration to the issues that sustained the people’s peaceful revolution for over 100 days. The unprecedented Aragalaya resulted in the ouster of Mahinda Rajapaksa as Prime Minister, Basil Rajapaksa as Finance Minister and Gotabaya Rajapaksa as the President.

In that context, the secret ballot of MPs on Tuesday in short was not a vote out of conscience but more influenced by cash deals or other political benefits in the future.

Even the leading Opposition MPs publicly expressed their dismay over the conduct of some of their colleagues especially after several parties had pledged to support the second dominant contender Dullas Alahapperuma. For example, National People’s Power (NPP) Leader and unsuccessful candidate Anura Kumara Dissanayaka said Tuesday’s vote showed a distorted reflection of the people’s will.

“Many controversial things have happened within this Parliament. Various factions announced their support to various candidates but did they not stick to their decisions due to policy matters?” Dissanayake queried during his remarks after the election result was announced. Dissanayaka said he believes the MPs did not stick to their words due to other reasons not related to policies. “This is an unethical Parliament full of unethical people,” alleged the NPP Leader who only garnered three votes. TNA MP M.A. Sumanthiran via a tweet reinforced what Dissanayake alluded to saying the latter made a good point. “The number of those that publicly endorsed Dullas Alahapperuma is more than 113! What happened then??” queried Sumanthiran.

Pro-Wickremesinghe MP Harin Fernando went on record saying even before the vote that several MPs from the main Opposition Samagi Jana Balawegaya and TNA would back the then Acting President for the remainder of the term of the ousted Gotabaya Rajapaksa. 

Post-election, Fernando claimed 12 SJB MPs voted in favour of Ranil, which the party’s General Secretary denied yesterday. Political circles also alleged that even several TNA MPs voted in favour even though the two parties formally pledged support to Alahapperuma.

If cutting deals is to be considered as normal in politics, then Wickremesinghe’s victory on Tuesday had been at a hefty price paid of course by cronies who will look for kickbacks. These tactics also question the sincerity of calls made to the Opposition to come and work together. Campaigning and rallying forces for system change and a new program is fine but one must walk the talk.

Nauseating political deals apart, President Wickremesinghe and his voters from the Rajapaksa-regime loyalists, can no longer compromise the interest of the people whose sufferings have only worsened with no relief at sight. A sincere effort on consensus building and collective effort is key to seeing Sri Lanka out of its worst crisis. The people deserve better, not the unscrupulous politicians. 

courtesy Daily Mirror

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