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Sunday, 16 November 2014

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Opposition quivers to take on President Rajapaksa

Political parties in the Opposition have conceded that they are unable to defeat President Mahinda Rajapaksa at the next presidential election. They have acknowledged defeat even prior to the announcement of the date of the next presidential election where President Rajapaksa would seek a record third term.

The overwhelming support the masses had extended to the President and the UPFA at all elections since 2005 clearly shows that the Opposition has realised that they are mere Lilliputians when contesting a Gulliver of the calibre of President Rajapaksa.

The Opposition is dreaming of a common candidate - an unending battle for the Opposition. Ven. Maduluwawe Sobhitha Thera has sought the support of Opposition political parties to become the common candidate. But his idea was shot down by the main Opposition party. The UNP first declared that it would field its national leader Ranil Wickremesinghe as the party's presidential candidate.

However, the anti-Ranil UNP faction lobbied strongly to prevent Ranil from contesting and demanded that they support a common candidate. At the same time, the UNP declared that the common candidate should be from the UNP and they would not support any outsider.

UNP's deputy leader Sajith Premadasa and some of his confidantes showed a queer interest in fielding Wickremesinghe as the party's presidential candidate. Nevertheless, Wickremesinghe, a mature and experienced leader who had mastered politics under his uncle, the late President J.R. Jayewardene, knew exactly what Sajith and his cohorts were up to.

Wickremesinghe eventually agreed to abandon his plans of contesting and agreed on a common candidate. His confidante Mangala Samaraweera was planning to leave his former Royal college school mate and cross over to the Government. When there was no positive response for the top ministerial portfolios he wanted, Mangala decided to remain in the UNP and support a common candidate.

His initial plan was to bring former President Chandrika Bandaranaike Kumaratunga as the common candidate. But the majority of the UNP strongly opposed it. There were reports that the ex-President could face legal barriers if she were to contest as there had been a judgment against her in the infamous Waters Edge deal. Hence, Kumaratunga was forced to abandon her dreams.

The UNP's leadership council chairman Karu Jayasuriya's name was thereafter proposed to be the common candidate after extensive lobbying by Jayasuriya himself. Many UNP supporters felt that Jayasuriya had backstabbed Wickremesinghe and did irreparable damage to the UNP after he joined the UPFA Government with 17 party stalwarts.

When Jayasuriya was languishing in the political wilderness, it was Wickremesinghe who showed his gentlemanly qualities and made Jayasuriya the deputy leader and later the chairman of the leadership council. Jayasuriya's ingratitude surfaced again and he conspired against Wickremesinghe to become the common Opposition candidate.

Apart from Kumaratunga and Jayasuriya, several other names were also proposed as the common candidate. Although Sarath Fonseka was aspiring to become the common candidate again, he is unable to contest an election, having lost his civic rights. Hence, the Opposition is engaged in an interminable battle to find a common candidate.

Fonseka enlightened the Opposition on the fate of a common candidate who will face the agony after losing. Saying that he had the best experience of becoming the common candidate, he alleged that none of those in the Opposition coalition was there when he lost the last 2010 presidential election.

Finding a common candidate is likely to continue till the day of nominations. Even if a common candidate is found after months, the outcome would be obvious. Internal strife among the power-hungry Opposition politicians would take centre stage, no sooner nominations are handed over.

Moreover, there is no worthwhile politician in the Opposition who could become the common candidate and contest President Rajapaksa in a presidential race. Former Chief Justice Sarath N. Silva's theory that President Rajapaksa could not seek a third term appeared to be a blessing in disguise for the Opposition which thought that things would not be that difficult if the incumbent President is kept out of the race. But their joy was shortlived.

Leader of the House and Irrigation and Water Resources Management Minister Nimal Siripala de Silva told Parliament on Tuesday that President Rajapaksa has no legal impediment to contest a presidential election for the third term and said that the Supreme Court determination was handed over to the President.

He said that a full Bench of the Supreme Court had arrived at a unanimous decision that there is no constitutional barrier for the incumbent President to contest a presidential election again. According to the Supreme Court determination, the President can constitutionally call a presidential election, contest a third time and be elected as the President. The decision has been arrived at in accordance with Article No. 31 (3a) (a) i of the Constitution.

The Supreme Court determination silenced all critics who had propounded their own legal theories to prove that President Rajapaksa could not seek a third term.This unwarranted debate was initiated by the former Chief Justice who aired his views on his interpretation of the clauses in the Constitution. The 18th Amendment to the Constitution entitles President Rajapaksa to seek a third term in office. It is now crystal clear that President Rajapaksa could not only contest the next Presidential election but also any number of elections thereafter.

The 18th Amendment to the Constitution introduced on September 9, 2010 removed the Constitutional restriction that prevented the incumbent President for re-election after a second term. The Constitutional Amendment and the historic Supreme Court ruling on the 18th Amendment were delivered by a Bench chaired by the then Chief Justice Shirani Bandaranayake upholding the new law.

However, those who had already conceded defeat knowing that they could never defeat President Rajapaksa at a future presidential election, were trotting out various theories and their interpretations.

Opposition politicians aspiring to contest the next presidential election are acutely aware that they are unable to defeat President Rajapaksa, in whom the majority of the masses have reposed implicit faith in. President Rajapaksa is the only political leader who could command an absolute majority at any election. The President's soaring popularity has set a poser to the so-called common Opposition which fears that they would not stand a ghost of a chance to contest such a charismatic leader with a proven track record.

It is evident that the leaders of all Opposition political parties are suffering from a 'Mahinda Rajapaksa phobia' and resorting to undemocratic means to overcome their biggest threat at the next presidential election. All such wily efforts were thwarted after the Supreme Court determined that President Rajapaksa has no Constitutional barrier, whatsoever, to seek another term.

As the Opposition is unable to defeat President Rajapaksa democratically, it is employing various tactics to cover its political nudity. If the Opposition commands such a large vote base, as it claims, it should fearlessly take on President Rajapaksa at the next presidential election.

The nation needs a patriotic leader who would not permit the West or the LTTE rump to rob the country of its hard-earned peace. The masses would reject outright those politicians who dance to the Western melody and undermine the Security Forces' supreme sacrifices.The LTTE rump and certain Western politicians yearn to have anybody other than President Rajapaksa as Sri Lanka's Head of State because they are acutely aware that the incumbent President would not compromise the country's sovereignty and territorial integrity. The interlopers in the West could not poke their fingers in Sri Lanka's internal matters as long as President Rajapaksa is at the helm. This is the only reason that they are dreaming of a regime change.

The masses are deeply cognizant of this threat and would reject Opposition candidates who would become puppets of the West.

A record third term for President Rajapaksa will not only shatter the hopes of the LTTE rump but also make Sri Lanka the Wonder of Asia by 2020. Let us rally round the leader who had changed the destiny of a nation as Sri Lanka celebrates President Rajapaksa's ninth anniversary of his first victory in November 2005.

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