BEST BET STILL MISSED

Daily Mirror (Sri Lanka) - - OPINION - By PIYADASA RILLAGODA

Iden­tity pol­i­tics is per­ish­able. It seems true in Sri Lanka in par­tic­u­lar and in al­most all the coun­tries where par­lia­men­tary pol­i­tics pre­vail. A close pe­rusal of elec­tion re­sults in­clud­ing by-elec­tions in the post-in­de­pen­dent era of our coun­try drives home the con­cept that iden­tity pol­i­tics has done more harm to the na­tion than good. Now, the time is op­por­tune to make a crit­i­cal anal­y­sis of the tragi-comic sta­tus quo po­lit­i­cal cri­sis of the na­tion from a dif­fer­ent an­gle in the con­text of global pol­i­tics.

In my view, the Par­lia­ment should es­sen­tially be a broad church in or­der to find so­lu­tions to our burn­ing is­sues. There is noth­ing to hide from the in­ter­na­tional com­mu­nity. It is crys­tal clear that al­most all party lead­ers ad­hered to iden­tity pol­i­tics to grab the rul­ing power of the coun­try.

ED­MUND BURKE, the iconic po­lit­i­cal philoso­pher, needs no in­tro­duc­tion to the stu­dents of po­lit­i­cal sci­ence but, to most of the present day politi­cians. The quotable quotes by this great guru are many. He iden­ti­fies the po­lit­i­cal an­i­mals in the so­ci­ety di­vided into lit­tle pla­toons. A pro­found anal­y­sis of this phrase could have meant to re­fer to the group­ing of mis­cel­la­neous types of in­di­vid­ual vot­ers into clus­ters glued to­gether for a com­mon goal. They de­clare that they strive to do good to the whole com­mu­nity.

I am a free­lance jour­nal­ist. I am a mem­ber of the pub­lic ser­vice re­tirees’ as­so­ci­a­tion and an im­par­tial an­a­lyst of the cur­rent po­lit­i­cal sit­u­a­tions around the world. They are some of the pla­toons in which I move keep­ing my head straight.

In Sri Lanka, the changes of Pres­i­dents and Prime Min­is­ters hap­pen in the most un­ex­pected man­ner. The writer would like to pro­ceed with his ar­gu­ment to make the cur­rent Par­lia­ment an or­gan­i­sa­tion that would en­ter­tain the opin­ions of all stake­hold­ers with the same weight. In other words, to say NO to IDEN­TITY POL­I­TICS in cap­i­tal let­ters. In this sense, the elec­tion of Prime Min­is­ter should rest on the par­lia­men­tary party. We should not for­get the fact that he has to de­liver the goods to the na­tion. The elected mem­bers to the Par­lia­ment on the party ticket are obliged to re­spect his or her supremacy for the smooth func­tion­ing of the sys­tem. The po­lit­i­cal turn­coats be­come cru­cial de­ci­sion-mak­ers or king­pin fac­tors of chang­ing gov­ern­ments un­der th­ese cir­cum­stances. The West­min­ster sys­tem re­jects all th­ese un­demo­cratic acts be­cause it ve­he­mently ad­vo­cates democ­racy. The flip side of the same coin should dis­play that all the mem­bers are equal. As the old adage goes, ‘one should not be more equal than oth­ers.’ The rap­port be­tween the Prime Min­is­ter and party mem­bers is of para­mount im­por­tance. Thus, there should be a con­stant di­a­logue be­tween the Prime Min­is­ter and elected par­lia­men­tar­i­ans be­cause they would tend to think that they would do bet­ter than some min­is­ters of the Cab­i­net. It was very pal­pa­ble to me many a time and dis­cernible to the pub­lic again and again. Mis­han­dling of this sit­u­a­tion has proved fa­tal many a time.

Ideas and val­ues play a piv­otal role in pol­i­tics in democ­ra­cies. Only high­cal­i­bre politi­cians with a proven track record would win in this race. Charisma mat­ters a lot in pol­i­tics. Lack of high pre­sen­ta­tion has proved detri­men­tal not only in the re­cent past, but also through­out the po­lit­i­cal his­tory of our par­adise isle. The soul of the po­lit­i­cal party should be kept un­touched for short-term gains. There should be changes of the po­lit­i­cal jour­ney of a coun­try for a thriv­ing democ­racy. The so- called JAN­UARY 8 silent rev­o­lu­tion was not re­sult-ori­ented be­cause the left hand didn’t know what the right hand was do­ing. The GOOD GOV­ER­NANCE CAUL­DRON was boil­ing with­out the nec­es­sary in­gre­di­ents, even with­out a drop of beer be­cause of pub­lic protest. Burke fur­ther adds, “A State with­out the means of some change is with­out the means of con­ser­va­tion.’’ The warmth of change was not pal­pa­ble to the Sri Lankan voter. Now, the Sri Lankan elec­torate could be op­ti­mistic as most of the pol­i­cy­mak­ers and mem­bers of the leg­is­la­ture have learnt bit­ter lessons from the past. To form a pro­found view of the sta­tus quo of Sri Lanka’s po­lit­i­cal cri­sis, a quick assess­ment of the global po­lit­i­cal sce­nario seems to be a guid­ing light. Fail­ure of most of the po­lit­i­cal or­tho­dox­ies around the world sig­nals us to take a u-turn in pol­i­cy­mak­ing. It is quite ev­i­dent that most of the po­lit­i­cal pun­dits have taken very dis­as­trous de­ci­sions in the past with­out feel­ing the pulse of

the na­tion. In Mark Twain’s ‘PRINCE AND THE PAUPER’ most cor­rectly con­cluded that the boy in mother’s warmth was not her Tom Canty. But our YA­HA­PALANAYA ad­vo­cates were not able to de­liver the things be­cause they were not able to feel the pulse of the na­tion. Dur­ing the last decade, the un­bi­ased in­tel­lec­tu­als wit­nessed many a fail­ure in global pol­i­tics. The fol­low­ing stand in ar­ray would con­vince you to a great ex­tent. Don­ald Trump emerged the vic­tor in Amer­ica, the Bri­tish voted to leave the Euro­pean Union, and mis­han­dling of the im­mi­gra­tion is­sue brought ad­verse con­se­quences to An­gela Merkel. Stag­nant wages crushed most of the seg­ments of the pub­lic. But due to em­ploy­ment gen­er­a­tion for po­lit­i­cal gains and pop­u­la­tion ex­plo­sions dras­ti­cally re­duced the un­em­ploy­ment fig­ures in most of the coun­tries. Yet, peo­ple ev­ery­where do not seem con­tented. Some gov­ern­ments printed cur­rency notes as a short-term rem­edy, but it proved a flop. ‘GAMA APITA’ slo­gan of the ex­trem­ist po­lit­i­cal par­ties such as JVP and THE PRO­GRES­SIVE FRONT lim­ited their po­lit­i­cal cam­paign tar­geted at a very nar­row strip of vot­ers. Most of the rad­i­cal left par­ties still be­lieve they could come to power us­ing univer­sity stu­dents as their cat’s paw. ‘KEPUWATH KOLA OR NIL’ has be­come an­other fail­ure. Keep­ing their elec­torates as home pock­ets based on the caste sys­tem and win­ning on the re­li­gious card do not prove long-last­ing. Some po­lit­i­cal par­ties seek win­ning by as­sur­ing the em­pow­er­ment of the un­der­dog and for­get even the elec­torate af­ter win­ning. Even the sil­ver tongue of Asia came to power by unit­ing Sanga, Veda, Guru, Govi and Kamkaru. One time Ox­ford Union Pres­i­dent Caraka laments in his mag­num opus writ­ing “I GO WEST” about the re­al­i­ties of In­dia. To con­clude, I ve­he­mently ad­vo­cate the do­ing away with IDEN­TITY POL­I­TICS in Sri Lanka for the good of the na­tion. The Au­gust assem­bly should es­sen­tially be a BROAD CHURCH to re­alise our cher­ished dreams; oth­er­wise we will have to bask in the an­cient glory with­out mov­ing a step fur­ther.

In Sri Lanka, the changes of Pres­i­dents and Prime Min­is­ters hap­pen in the most un­ex­pected man­ner. The writer would like to pro­ceed with his ar­gu­ment to make the cur­rent Par­lia­ment an or­gan­i­sa­tion that would en­ter­tain the opin­ions of all stake­hold­ers with the same weight

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