Opposition quivers to take on President
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
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
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
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.