Letters from now: Election musings

Monday, 10 June 2024 00:21 -     - {{hitsCtrl.values.hits}}

President Ranil Wickremesinghe

Sajith Premadasa

Anura Kumara Dissanayake

My dear Sinna,

I must apologise for the lengthy delay. After eight and a half years of five days a week of mainly live TV programs I simply had to take a break and here I am writing to you – the powers that be, may give me a slot on TV again but that’s an entirely different trajectory. 

For now, dear Sinna, let me share with you what I heard from my rather dear friend Raj Uncle who never left the North when Prabha started to be a pain in the side of JR and PrayMay and Chandrika Missy and the others who followed. 

Best bit is, he never even contemplated leaving the land of his birth. 

Turns out he was born in the village of Manipai. I often refer to it as the Posh Village. Actually Sinna, it really is the Colombo 7 of Jaffna – with several Manipai folk living in the Cinnamon Gardens area. Lots of people I know trace their roots to the soil there. Uncle TN, Playboy Hari, several leading figures from the industry. Most have made an indelible mark on our history. Some from there now own world-class businesses and have even listed their business on the stock exchange. As our dear Sally from Nairobi would say, eyes rolling, “imagine”!

So Uncle Raj says, “Please note only about 60-64% of the Tamil people vote in the general elections but majority or say close to 90% of the Tamil people voted against the Rajapaksas in the last few Presidential elections. I am confident that all those who voted against Rajapaksas and the new voters in the last few Presidential elections would vote for the Tamil presidential candidate.”Well Sinna, there are many theories and one is that I doubt it will be like Raj uncle says; tactically it is likely the Tamil citizen will vote for Sajith in the main?

Raj uncle – the man who never left Jaffna – says that will not be the case. Here’s how Raj uncle articulates that position:

“Tamils are fed up with Sajith as he failed his role as opposition leader to Tamil people. 

There were so many incidents in the northeast – most of which affected the basic rights of Tamil people – which although, Tamil members addressed this in the Parliament, Sajith kept quiet. 

AKD victory is predicted without Tamil votes. As a Sri Lankan I want AKD to win with the votes in the south.

As a Tamil person especially from north/east I would vote for a Tamil presidential candidate and will vote for Gajendrakumar Ponambalam in the general election.

This is the current position of the Tamil people. AKD is the next presidential power and NPP would form the next government. 

The Tamil folk could live a more peaceful life in the next government under President AKD.”

Well Sinna, I have tried to convince the octogenarian Raj Uncle that THAT is too simplistic! AKD needs every vote possible and that includes the voters from the former conflict areas. 

By promoting a cause where the Tamil citizenry vote exclusively for a Tamil candidate in the full knowledge, they will never be able to secure the presidency is almost a breach of duty and a waste of democratic process.  There may well be other convoluted reasons Sinna, but frankly I see a straight run for Sajith or AKD.

Sinna, I know you are meticulous in most matters – perhaps not as much as brother Razeen who likes all his clothes to hang with precision spacing as indeed the pencils and pens on his desk. The meticulous man in you will point out no doubt that I have not taken into account the joker in the pack – metaphorically speaking of course.

That must be the “hero from zero”. Agreed Sinna? I mean the United National Party was decimated at the last parliamentaries right? They failed to be elected anywhere. Nowhere. Like everything in Sri Lanka, there’s a “but”. 

That was due to the way things are set up in our country the UNP got a ‘bonus’ seat. One solitary ‘bonus’ seat. And hey presto, even though there was much talk of not appointing losing candidates to the National List, the solitary ‘bonus’ seat went to dear Ranil. We all know how he then went straight on to becoming the Prime Minister and then on to the presidency. Jeffrey Archer may well have struggled to get a storyline like that one. Unparalleled disbelief. It shows that Sri Lanka is not just a good place for deal makers but also for Authors like Archer, who can find so many story lines. 

Now the problem Sinna is that currently the Presidency enjoys the backing – and the parliamentary support – of the Rajapaksa family party the Pohottuwa, widely known as the SLPP.  Sinna lets be frank: which Easter-bombing-affected Catholic is going to cast a vote in favour of that lot? For that matter which Northern Tamil is going to vote for that lot either? As for any Muslim worth his salt, remembering things like Digana, Aluthgama, Negombo, who will vote for the Rajapaksas?

So you see for dear Ranna to pull it off and top his career, and actually get elected as the President, Ranna must jettison the Aragalaya-denounced Rajapaksa clan. He must somehow get support from the group that left the UNP and metamorphosed (sorry Sinna, I am not doing a Sajith here) themselves as the SJB. Problem is dear Sajja cannot bring himself to trust Ranna – and for jolly good reason too. Like that Channel 4 documentary, the current situation (thank you Maxwell for coining that term) raises more questions than answers.

It is in that context and the phenomenal support from several quarters for the NPP that many are minded to place their frustration on the shoulders of one Anura Kumara Dissanayake. And hope like hell that he will deliver on accountability and tackle corruption head on – without losing his eye on the ball, the economy.

Sinna, if AKD fails, there’s always the exit clause currently in the hands of the People: they will unceremoniously vote him out and dump him at the next election. No greater a focal point than that for a politician!

All the best Sinna,


(The writer can be reached at www.shauketaly.com.)

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