Ranil averted a mutiny from his own party and pretended it was a great victory. But the exhaustion on his face reveals how weak his position is.
The only reason the no-confidence vote was even brought to the floor of the parliament was because there was a sizeable number of UNP members who were unhappy with Ranil’s record of failure as a party leader and as prime minister – most clearly shown by the February 11 results – and who realized that his removal was the only way to save the party.
Going in to the vote, minority extremist support for Ranil – the closest thing to an “Eelam” prime minister since the terrorist defeat in 2009 – was obvious. So, for the no-confidence vote to pass and for Ranil to lose, a significant number of his fellow UNP MPs had to vote against him. The fact that they all eventually decided to fall in line behind Ranil was nothing more than maintenance of the status quo – they didn’t oust him when he was at his weakest point back in 2011-2012, so why would they vote against him when he is the prime minister?
In the end Ranil was only able to enact a damage limitation exercise and stop a mutiny. It is a personal victory for Ranil that he was once again able to keep his position despite massive public rejection. But the exhaustion in his face and the tiredness of his voice after the vote belied how much this has damaged him. The fact that he was at pains to thank his party for supporting him, when that support should be automatic for any real leader of a party, and the prime minister no less, shows not his strength but his true weakness.
The unanimous support for Ranil also reveals the weakness of the UNP. Here is a party that had one chance to correct their course before the marathon of elections that are coming up over the next few months – Provincial Councils, Presidential polls, and the General Election itself. Choosing a new leader now would have allowed the UNP to show the public that they are responsive to the wishes of the people, that they are serious about making improvements in policy, and that the UNP is not just a one-man band.
Instead, they took the easy way out. I’m sure the UNP – especially the Laurel and Hardy clown combination of Wasantha and Range – justified their short-sighted action by telling themselves they could never be involved in the removal of a UNP prime minister and the possible fall of a UNP government. But how will they answer to the public at large, and especially to the rank and file UNP activists who had pinned their hopes on at least these two enacting the change that the UNP so desperately needs in order to survive the next elections? I certainly hope whatever prize they obtained from Ranil in exchange for their vote on April 4 was worth the loss of their political careers and the total collapse of their party.
The SLFP is not much better off either. After the circus antics by ring-master Sirisena and his own head clown Fowzie – first being for the motion, then against, and then planning to abstain – the public were at a loss as to what the heck was going on with the SLFP. The true drama was finally revealed when Susil, Dayasiri and TB all trotted out their weird, twisted logic: they were against everything Ranil had done as prime minister while they sat in Ranil’s cabinet as ministers, they now want Ranil out of the prime ministerial chair and were going to vote against him, but they refuse to leave the cabinet which Ranil now continues to lead as prime minister after winning the vote. What the actual F?
At one point Susil even admitted to being the agent without whom the UNP could not have formed a government at all in August 2015 – for, he proudly declared how it was his lack of protest that allowed Sirisena to illegitimately appoint a new UPFA party secretary and therefore appoint a new National List of MPs who would in turn work with the UNP! He even goaded the UNP to try and form a government without him after the vote, knowing full well that Ranil would not be sacking him or the rest of the SLFP dissenters.
Truly, Susil’s performance was worthy of an Oscar nomination for best actor. Not only did he bellow his lungs out in his strange condemnation of his own cabinet’s policies, he whipped himself into a frenzy as he spun around to wave and point at various UNP cabinet colleagues, and he even worked himself up so much that he lost his balance and had to grab the desk to prevent a fall.
To top this all off, despite the irate UNP members demanding these SLFP cabinet ministers’ sacking, Ranil joined in on the madness by refusing to sack anyone!
So on the one hand we have a UNP that will literally follow Ranil to electoral destruction, and on the other we have a SLFP that either vanished from the parliament when the all-important vote was called – 26 of them were absent including sleepy Nimal and baldy Duminda – or voted to express no faith in Ranil while refusing to leave Ranil’s cabinet.
The SLPP is now the only serious party left in the country. This was even more evident by the actual speeches made. While the SLPP/JO members made reasoned arguments, logical analyses, and even witty comments, the UNP members engaged in nothing more than spewing verbal filth, lies, innuendo, and totally false allegations against the Rajapaksa family. Worst of all, the UNP said all this in some of the crudest language one has ever heard. Whatever happened to the UNP, once filled with eloquent orators? That party is indeed long gone.
The question at hand was Ranil’s fitness to be prime minister given the bond scam that the man he put in charge of the Central Bank, his close friend, was involved with. So why did the UNP spend all their time talking about Wimal’s “vomit,” Ranil’s wife’s hair colour, and Gotabhaya Rajapaksa – who has never even been an MP? The worst offenders from the UNP ranks were the usual suspects, General Kalavaddha, Harin the Bully from Badulla, and pathological liar Rajitha Senarathne.
But as horrendous as it was to hear the UNP’s third-class trash talking, it did reveal an important weakness. They had no defense of Ranil, no excuse for the bond scam, and no vision for the country. Instead they just repeated all the lies that got them into power in 2015. The country has moved on, and the masses won’t fall for those tricks again. This was self-evident in February 2018, but the UNP have clearly closed their eyes to this reality. They exist in a different universe, where it is perpetually 2014. They are in for a rude awakening very soon.
Really, the events of the past 24 hours just goes to show how lost, out of touch, and insane both the SLFP and UNP are. All the more reason to let the adults back in charge by voting for the SLPP at every possible election to come – assuming that loser Ranil and his buddy the Beardo Election Commissioner will actually hold them. Today’s vote showed that the lunatics have taken over the asylum. One shudders to think what damage they will do to the country before they are finally ejected from power.
Image from article here.