Photo courtesy of The Herald Bulletin
My favourite politician, Dr. Harini Amarasuriya, tweeted a few days ago on her preferred course of action for the way out of the present mess we find ourselves in.
“Ok, let’s talk stability,” Dr. Harini tweeted and then listed what she would like to see unfold on the political front. She started with (a) Gotabaya Rajapaksa resigns; (b) Interim government formed; (c) Constitutional amendments; and (d) Elections.
All good points but for one hitch which is that the President is not going to step down. He has resisted calls from the aragalaya for more than a month to do so. Is he going to suddenly change his mind, especially now that the rest of the family are out of sight?
It would be foolhardy to start a utopian bucket list by wishing for the president to disappear overnight. It is not happening. Then what is the next best option? The answer is to set up an interim government and then work towards clipping the powers of the presidency and giving the incumbent a face saving exit from the stage.
Now that Ranil Wickremesinghe has been appointed prime minister, shouldn’t Dr. Harini and the rest of the politicians get behind him?
If the Diyawanna lot is serious about putting the country first and serving its best interests, shouldn’t they come together in a national government to lift the people out of the deep financial hole they are in?
Instead what we have is more politicking with everyone stridently making their points. From Sajith to Aruna to Eran to Maithri they are all striving to claim the moral high ground with the plaintive chorus that they will not accept any ministerial portfolios in the new government under Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe as long as President Rajapaksa remains.
Isn’t this playing into the hands of President Rajapaksa and the SLPP? Isn’t it better to be on the inside and bring about change than to be on the outside uselessly critical of every move?
Ranil has written to the opposition leader appealing to the SJB to be part of the new government. He was quoted as saying: “Let’s leave aside traditional politics at this time of crisis and join hands to resolve the burning issues. I invite you to be a part of the Government, to work together to get out of this crisis.”
No prizes for guessing what Sajith Premadasa did. Sadly, this has highlighted his lack of political maturity. If Sajith had thecountry’s welfare as his top priority, he would have accepted with alacrity the president’s invitation to be prime minister and, now that this offer is off the table, taken up the offer from Ranil to join hands.
There has been talk that Ranil will strike a deal with the devil and allow the Rajapaksas to get away scot free. If Sajith and his people were on the inside, wouldn’t it be harder for any such deal to see daylight?
By not being in the mix, it means Ranil has been forced to go to the SLPP to pick candidates as new ministers in his cabinet. So instead of Harsha we get Prasanna and instead of Eran we have G.L. The thirsty donkey will drink from the first water he comes across even if it is scummy.
In times of crisis, a national government is the order of the day, the most famous example being the coalition government in Britain under Winston Churchill during World War II. Do we have politicians who are as statesmanlike and can think of shelving personal gain for the sake of the country?
A national government should be top of the list, not the president resigning. Everything else follows – constitutional amendments, elections and finally the president riding off quietly into the sunset. If the economy is not fixed immediately then all of us, politicians included, will find ourselves deeper in the abyss.
Now that Ranil has been appointed as prime minister, he must have the backing of a national government. Enough petty politics, let’s solve the economic needs of the people first. You can have elections a few months down the road.