– by Shenali D Waduge –
There is one reason and one reason alone that explains why the United National Party will never lead Sri Lanka and no one needs to be splitting hairs or having conventions to find out. UNP will not win elections because it does not command the Buddhist vote. The tragedy is that it does not even care to consider championing the Buddhist cause. The reason is plain and simple and explains why over the years it has forgotten the arithmetic realities of how parties can win elections and why parties win elections.
A leader who wants to celebrate the arrival of the Portuguese ignoring the thousands of Sri Lankans the Portuguese killed and the hundreds of Buddhist temples they destroyed and upon which current Churches now stand, a leader always running to foreign nations for advice, who stumbles when reciting the national anthem and rarely shows any desire to honor ancestors and the country’s Buddhist heritage can never hope to become the country’s leader. It is that plain and simple.
There are many who weep for the Grand Ole Party – more so because a country needs a vibrant opposition and not an opposition that sits on the other side especially if that opposition is now known and branded as traitors. Unfortunately, the UNP has only itself to blame. It has been plagued with a midas touch but not one that turns into gold – but one that is rusting in all corners.
From J R Jayawardena, R Premadasa to being led by Ranil Wickremasinghe the party has had its ups and downs. At least during the period of Premadasa people can look back in time where state offices were sparkling, public officials from peon to Secretary were immaculately dressed, factories and job opportunities abounded and of course the gam udawa system and the famous clock towers. People would also remember his inferiority complexes and how many manipulated these for their own advantage turning the country into a virtual killing field – the human rights organizations were very selective and chose to keep mum. There were many unnecessary deaths and people are still mourning their dead. The period will also be remembered for the deaths of 600 innocent policemen asked to give themselves in to the LTTE who shot them dead one by one – unarmed, a clear violation of their human rights – again no human rights organizations came to speak on their behalf.
The UNP has done its arithmetic wrong. In thinking that by only speaking for and taking up the mantle of the minorities it has distanced itself from a block of voters that cannot be ignored if a party wants to come into power. Popularity does not win votes, certainly not popularity from urban elite or minorities alone – numbers are needed. Going behind coalitions of minorities only, has not paid any dividends to the UNP matched with its treacherous ways and traitors they have taken to their fold and traitors they have nurtured over the years.
We had UNP MPs going round the world complaining and whining to every international body in the world, we have had MPs drafting legislations that have contributed to dividing and partitioning parts of the country to a terrorist organization and going around the world boasting of it – ironically this same person is now in Government probably doing similar damage and eyeing for Premiership giving a whole new connotation to ‘yes’ men success theory and doing damage by fooling.
There is little we need to say about the quality of our MPs for the public end up voting for them despite knowing their wicked ways or they end up coming from the back door as advisors, consultants or national list MPs and worse still be given key portfolios that decide the country’s fate when they are not the people the public want to represent them. Bouncing the same bad eggs from this side to that side has become part of the political games politicians play. You will not find a single Opposition MP objecting to salary increases for themselves but ever ready to complain about cost of living.
Yet, we need to mention with appreciation that it was the UNP Buddhist voters who transferred their allegiance to the JHU in the 2004 elections after realizing UNP leaders treacherous ways and saved the country from turmoil. It is unfortunate that the JHU did not deliver on the mandate given to them which showcases how shortsighted politicians are in putting the country before self.
Returning to the question of the UNP running deeper into the political wilderness it has itself only to blame. First they blamed its leader and now a whole team is accountable for it is this team that allowed a foreign tv channel to make use of its head quarters knowing that it was preparing to throw mud at Sri Lanka. Until and unless the UNP politicians realize that when people are ready to throw mud it is not at their enemy they are throwing mud it is at our country of 20million people of which they too are very much a part of – the UNP will continue to wonder why it can never sit in the winning seat – when the answer has always been siting infront of it. In allowing such a treacherous act to take place every member of the UNP is responsible whether they were part of the organizing committee or not. Blaming tv channels and media for relaying what they had organized is simply trying to cover up their guilt.
To clean up the dirty stables. the UNP seriously need to throw out the dirty garbage that have littered every party they have been part of and connived to destroy using foreign funds and foreign advice – they are now ruining whatever is left to seal the coffin of the UNP. It is just as well the party is kept alive because of its history but for the party to become worthy of being called an opposition party the UNP needs to realize that in aspiring to lead the nation it must represent all the people and not isolate an entire bloc that contributes to bringing party’s to power.
Those party’s that merit from the bloc vote at the same time needs to also realize that they cannot afford to take that bloc vote too much for granted and committing the same mistake the UNP is currently doing which will be a key factor at future elections.
The voters are not as stupid as some politicians may like to think.