“True party politics is a bad idea. It causes one more division among the people of this country who are already divided on very other possible divisible factor.Â Â But changing sides to enjoy personal privileges is not the solution that the people of this country are looking for. They want all political parties to get together and work for the good of this nation but they can do so while sitting on any side of the Legislature and minus ministerial perks.”
President Mahinda Rajapaksa was sworn in as the 5thÂ Executive President ofÂ Sri LankaÂ onÂ November 19th, 2005. Soon after the event, the main architects of Rajapaksa’s victory Mangala Samaraweera and Wimal Weerawansa along with SLFP stalwarts like Maithripala Sirirsena and Nimal Siripala De Silva held a press briefing to declare his election as a victory for the people and a defeat against the forces of separatism.
Since then a lot of water has flown under the bridge. Mangala Samaraweera has done a U turn and has alleged that the President was party to a conspiracy prior to the polls which resulted in the LTTE being paid huge sums of money so that the Tigers would get Tamil voters in the north and east to refrain from voting. This did happen and it effectively put this President in office but the charges of a conspiracy remain unproven to date.
Weerawansa on the other hand had almost made it his personal mission to get Rajapaksa elected President but now the once powerful Propaganda Secretary of the JVP has fallen from grace with his own Party and it is becoming evident that his loyalties were always more with Rajapaksa than with the JVP.Â
Both Samaraweera’s and Weerawansa’s change in loyalties were dramatic in manner and highly unexpected but they have contributed to making the mandate given by the people in the last general elections in 2004 being perverted to such an extent that voters can no longer be sure that the persons they choose to vote because they support the policies of the Party a candidate represents, will not “put a jump” to the other side if it serves their personal agenda.
Granted that it is the right of an elected representative to change sides if and when he/she wants to.Â The Supreme Court has upheld that right several times over when such cross overs were challenged. But what of the rights of the voters. When I go to the polling booth and exercises my franchise by casting my vote for a certain party and candidate, I expect that person, if elected, to work according to the pledges he / she made according to that Party’s election manifesto. Here are now a set of MPs who tore the President “Mahinda Chintanaya” manifesto to shredsÂ Â prior to the polls singing praises of it as if they were talking in their sleeps during the countless stage performances and television appearances they had put up during the election campaign.
There are some who will argue in support of such cross overs as they feel that party politics has been the bane ofÂ Sri LankaÂ and it is such divisions that have lead to the country making little progress since independence. Since the first general elections in 1947, it has been one party getting into office while the one in Opposition kept busy pulling it by the leg to stop it making much progress while in power. So whenÂ sizableÂ number of UNP MPs joined the government one and a half years ago, it was trumpeted by some as a progressive step that would break down party divisions. Similarly many of the members of the Sri Lanka Muslim Congress (SLMC) and the entirety of the Ceylon Workers Congress (CWC) who contested the 2004 general elections with the UNP too joined the government. The Jathika Hela Urumaya (JHU) too got itself embedded with the ruling Party. Given this scenario things should be pretty rosy inÂ Sri LankaÂ with so many political parties with differing views being on the same side. But sadly in reality the situation is not so.
Each and every UNP MP who is sitting on the Government side is either a Cabinet minister or a non Cabinet or Deputy Minister as are the members of the SLMC and the CWC who are with the ruling party. Some of the UNP MPs who were very vocal critics of waste and corruptionÂ Â Â have fallen silent now.Â Â Those who would once resort to street demonstrations against the escalating cost of living don’t see anything wrong with the way the prices of essential items are going through the roof. They also feel absolutely no remorse being a part of a Cabinet of ministers that is gulping up a huge amount of public funds.
True party politics is a bad idea. It causes one more division among the people of this country who are already divided on very other possible divisible factor.Â Â But changing sides to enjoy personal privileges is not the solution that the people of this country are looking for. They want all political parties to get together and work for the good of this nation but they can do so while sitting on any side of the Legislature and minus ministerial perks. But then again that would be asking for too much of the majority of our politicians.Â Â What we have are just politicians but what we need are statesmen. We have a serious dearth of them in this country and future prospects of finding real leaders seem bleak at the present time.