Tuesday 13 November 2018

Gajalakshmi Paramasivam

13 November 2018

Two Opposition Leaderships Resulted in Two Prime Ministers?

Sri Lanka is now being highlighted as the world’s first democracy to have two Prime Ministers at the same time. But, we Tamils already had this experience when Mr Rajapaksa formed Joint Opposition on the basis of majority.

The UNP ought to have gone to Court back then. The speaker  had the duty to internally discipline and remove that status of Mr Rajapaksa as Joint Opposition leader for the simple reason that his party – SLFP lost its independence in Parliament when members crossed over to form Unity Government. Tamil National Alliance – TNA also failed to take the matter to Court to preserve its Diversity as the representative of a group that had declared its independence in 1976. All of these breaches also led to Joint Premiership. They reaped as they sowed.

Majority power as per its best   application reflects the Truth when the two sides produce their independent outcomes at the same time. It does not reflect the Truth if one steals the work of another or is dependent on the other. It is to eliminate this ‘shortage’ that the leading opposition is by law entitled to Equal status. Mr Rajapaksa merely extended the Joint Opposition to Joint Premiership.
It was as per the essential requirement of Independence, that the Tamil National Alliance became the leading opposition in Parliament. When the Joint Opposition was declared – the fundamentals of the Separation needed  in Democracy were breached and the Parliament allowed this status to continue. The Opposition had to be Common and not Joint. The outcomes produced need to be independent. Of the other side.

Effectively, the current application before the Supreme Court is successful expression of no-confidence motion by majority vote. If the Supreme Court fails to recognize this – then it is an ‘outsider’ to majority voters who are represented by the Applicants. Truth finds Its way to manifest Itself to true seekers.

In the meantime the Truth we have shared through this experience needs to be the basis of Amendments to the Constitution – not for intellectual debate – but for the genuine Sri Lankan voter to self-govern. Majority vote is one such avenue through which the average citizen would identify with her/his side. Now that Parliamentary status has become a controversial issue – the relevant provisions need to be in ordinary language that the common citizen would comfortably identify with. Obviously, the current Parliamentarians – including the President – lack the skills to do so and / or not humble enough to seek the wisdom of fellow Sri Lankans.
Mr Harsha Gunasena draws some parallels with Gandhi when reviewing Dinesh Weerakkody’s book on  Ranil Wickremesinghe:

[Ethnic conflict

In 2002, with no end in sight to the ferocious war that was raging, Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe signed the Ceasefire Agreement that brought the war to an end. The signing of that agreement was the act of a statesman who put country before self and the Right to Life above all others… When he said that he would negotiate a ceasefire and an interim administration with the LTTE, he stuck to this platform although defeat after defeat followed him.” Page 150

It is seldom that ethnic and religious minorities can determine governments. But despite losing ethnic majority support, and losing elections as a result, Ranil Wickremesinghe stayed steady to his course.” Page 148

This was an attribute of a selfless leader. A not-so-close parallel would be Mahatma Gandhi. Gandhi conducted his last hunger strike on two demands that Indian Government should pay 350 million to the Pakistan Government and the Hindu refugees who came from Pakistan should release the properties they forcibly acquired from Indian Muslims. The Indian people and Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru conceded in three days
 In this line the PM met his counterpart in the President who fought hard to reduce his own powers which is a rare phenomenon in world politics.

Inaction of PM

It may therefore be better if Ranil puts his resources to full use now in fighting corruption and taking the country on the development road. This is what the public and Maithri (the President) want from him.” Page 116

When Gandhi stared the hunger strike, the people understood the justice in three days. Our people need much more time. The Sub Committee of Centre-Periphery Relationships of the Steering Committee of the Constitutional Assembly published its report where Chief Ministers of the Sri Lanka Freedom Party recommended that the powers of the Governors should be curtailed drastically which needs a referendum although the SLFP officially rejected a referendum.

Several members of the Joint Opposition actively participated this sub committees. The debate is going on. Ranil does not want to take this to the people and get ownership of it but he facilitates the exercise. This is everybody’s baby. If no one is wearing that hat, civil society should do so. The country needs all the corrupt and un-corrupt politicians in this process so that the Government is not in a position to pursue anti-corruption campaign at this moment. That is the crux of it.

The fundamental difference between Gandhi and Mr Wickremesinghe in this regard  is that Gandhi – a Hindu and Indian that held majority power sacrificed majority power to respect the Sovereignty of Muslims. The parallel of those Muslims are the Tamils of North and East. Ranil did not have to self-sacrifice as Gandhi did – by fasting – and therefore foregoing the little he had possession of.  But the India that benefited from such self-sacrifice delivered.
When Mr Wickremesinghe finds a Sri Lankan Gandhi –  he and Sri Lankans would deliver to the minorities. If Ranil becomes Gandhi then he must find a Nehru to actively represent his values at the top.

Gandhi was kingmaker as was his Tamil disciple Kamraj known as Black Gandhi. The Hon Kamraj became kingmaker of India itself due to his humility and simplicity.

The two Opposition leaderships were like two bowling teams against one batting team in a game of cricket!

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