Don't play the game, Change It..!

-By Virgil

(Lanka-e-News -05.May.2024, 9.15 PM) “Don't ask for a light load, but rather ask for a strong back.” ~Anonymous

Everyone expects Anura Kumara Dissanayake, the leader of the National People's Power (NPP), to play the game. Ranil Wickremasinghe, Sajith Premadasa and the Rajapaksas are all ganging up against the rising popularity of the NPP; they treat AKD and the NPP not as their rivals; they treat them as their enemy. They portray the NPP and AKD like a cabal of gangsters, whose recent history has been interpreted by their own media and their entrenched powers; as enemies opposed to society and their perennial privileges. Ranil and Sajith, surmise that such dastardly treatment would help the traditional powers and power-brokers in the forthcoming elections. The sad portion of this sordid game is that if and when AKD and the NPP succumb to that sinister thinking and forbidding strategy, AKD and the NPP would lose.

If one wants to fight the existing system, one has to place oneself outside the framework of that system and then change it. Those hundreds of thousands of men and women who wish for a change might not realize it, but that is the hard truth. If the NPP gets enmeshed in the traditional mechanisms, the traditional tools and traditional processes, Ranil and Sajith and the rest of the protectors of the status quo would kill them, for good. Because the status quo owns the game and they dictate its rules.

The task before the greater majority of the masses is tremendous; they demand a change but they must realize that the tools and wherewithal available to them in the current marketplace of politics are acutely constrained. Even if they do have those weapons within their grasp, they would not know how to brandish that conventional weaponry. Superior oratorical skills, seemingly clean characters, repeated demands for a change and meteoric rise amongst the masses alone would not deliver them to the destined goal. They need all of that and more.

A stoic allegiance to facts and figures, flexible approach to changing socioeconomic currents and rejection of declining cultural values will be seen as strength of a coming power, so to speak. Most of all, accountability of men and women who lead the NPP and their oft-repeated declarations of holding those who played out the country and emptied the national treasury to ultimately account for their collective corruption and plundering of the country's precious resources should be taken most seriously. The people would not forgive the NPP and its leaders if they choose not to offer a definite pledge to bring the looters and crooked politicians before the law. Accountability and accountability alone would set them apart from the Wickremasinghes, Rajapaksas and Premadasas.

Why am I writing this now? It is being talked about amongst the masses that the NPP is now refraining from bringing the evil-doers before the arms of justice. Voting for the NPP is not merely based on a superficial change. The change that the masses expect is a sublime one. It is not just a substitution of one set of politicians with another. Aragalaya-22 did not spend months under a scorching sun and torrential rains on Galle Face Green asking for a change of leaders; they asked for a change, a real change and a system change.

Holding massive Mayday rallies in four different locations with equal success would not necessarily deliver votes. Every political party had unprecedented crowds attending their rallies. Because they transported those men and women, and there is no harm in that either. Days in which men and women attended a political meeting without transport and other facilities are gone. One cannot find men to venture into a canvassing round without the offer of expenses for the day. That is a cruel fact today.

But if the NPP chooses to play that same game, what entails is dangerously close to suicide. That is precisely what happened to the old JVP and Rohana Wijeweera. One cannot help but fall in love with oneself; the egocentric glory-trip would kill you and the movement will die before it can reach the next resting place. Such are the brutal consequences of self-deceit.

Stringent discipline and adherence to action within declared boundaries are a must for meeting one's desired results. One can easily get carried away with crowds; one can easily fall asleep thinking that we needn't go any further. Change is so difficult to achieve whether one likes it or not.  Sustenance of a long and arduous political campaign demands commitment and sacrifice. Are the leaders of the NPP willing and ready to forego the temporary luxuries such as sleep and occasional rest in order to reach the final goal? Only the leaders and the so-called Executive Council of the NPP can answer these questions.

In the same vein, is the UNP ready for such sacrifices and commitment? Is the SJB willing to go the extra mile? If they are, then the electorate will have a palpable dilemma before them. As things stand today, neither of these parties seem to possess such qualities. The United National Party under Ranil Wickremasinghe is certainly not. Ever since Ranil took over the Party after Gamini Dissanayake's demise in 1994, the UNP by itself has not seen any electoral victory. What happened in 2001 was an anomaly. And the last General Elections, more or less, drove the last nail into its coffin. Ninety five percent (95%) of the old UNP is with the SJB today. But the most unfortunate fate of the SJB is its weak and lackluster leadership of Sajith Premadasa.

Each time Sajith mentions that he will rejuvenate a Premadasa-era, it sends uncomfortable chills among the masses. In fact, such a proclamation is even worse than the sordid history of the JVP, especially its mayhem in the '87 – '89 period. AKD and the rest of the NPP leadership are purposely ignoring the '87 – '89 era's activities of the JVP. Sajith, on the contrary, is inviting the voters to revisit an era that was the beginning of the cruel characteristics of the Executive Presidential system. Suppression of free speech and peaceful assembly of the citizenry was most brutally executed by R Premadasa when he became President. Availing himself of all the luxuries of office, Premadasa started governing the country virtually like a king. The extent to which he abused the office of Executive Presidency could be perceived, sometimes, as treasonous when the offer of arms and ammunition to the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Elam (LTTE) and Prabhakaran is taken into account. Sajith apparently is not aware of the treachery of his farther because he was not in the country at the time. He was in England, supposed to be studying for his degree at London School of Economics. But Sajith must realize that ignorance is no excuse for indulgence in foolish and shortsighted policies and their implementation.

On the other hand, Ranil Wickremasinghe cannot claim ownership of a past that he can proudly boast about. Ranil's cosmetic mentions of allegiance to the working men and women, his boast about being a man who can manage the country's economy, his loud and prolific silence on the Bond-scam issue, surrounding himself with utterly despicable politicians who do not even deserve to be representing a Pradesheeya Sabha are all great badges with which masses of today identify him with.

When opposition to the NPP is filled with political hooligans and management nincompoops, it should be able to command the unequivocal respect of the masses. Nothing must be left for ambiguity. Only the weak and unsure will hesitate to respond to all allegations and criticisms with ruthless clarity and stoical demeanor.
Also, the NPP simply cannot ignore the algebra of the political calculus. The moment it occurs to the ordinary man that the task before the NPP is seemingly unachievable, climbing from 3.6% to 51%, is more unlikely than probable, and when they realize that in order to make that impossibility a dream that could very well be a realizable reality, the masses too shall follow them. In order to inspire three generations of voters to vote for them, the NPP itself must be inspired.

There is no time to waste. Stop playing the game that has been played according to the rules dictated by the status quo. Change the game and change the rules. Educate the masses on those lines too. You still have about four months. It will fly like a peregrine falcon. Challenges do not come without their intrinsic baggage. Handling that baggage might be even more challenging than the real challenge itself.

-By Virgil

The writer can be contacted at [email protected]         

Virgil's Collection

by     (2024-05-05 15:57:47)

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