Saturday, December 17, 2011

UNP Leadership change is imminent! Or is that what the Media is hoping for?

Any guesses as to what is in store at the UNP Working Committee meeting tomorrow?

Have you noticed that the Karu(KJ) camp has been working overtime convincing all and sundry on the suitability of a turncoat as the leader of the UNP. Ranil(RW) on the other hand has not been doing any rounds. He has just been the same intransigent RW as ever before. He hardly consults anyone, just one or two close confidantes and worse still he cares not a hoot for the media. That latter point may be his downfall as the KJ camp has milked the media for what it is worth, completely befuddling the Maha Sangha even to make a statement on his behalf.

So the battle lines are drawn. If KJ loses he has said he will retreat into the backbenches and perhaps not run at the next General Election. If RW loses he will most likely even leave his post as an MP as he if he has any self respect left will not want to work with either of the two people he considers not even worthy of a reply. He has a great future as a world statesman as Sri Lanka is not in the habit of respecting such avatars. See what befell Jayantha Dhanapala, when even his country would not back him for the UNSG post.

For the true party faithful replacing a person of 250K preference votes to his credit with one who people question whether he even got the 60K that he amassed ostensibly by vote stealing is galling. There will be many who will retreat into the wilderness waiting for better times. What is worse, he received over 20K preferences less than a Teledrama actress who in the Gampaha district does not even know the main cities. For a person such as that to be the leader of the largest single party in Sri Lanka speaks for some of its members and their recklessness.

There are questions that one must ponder on. When practically every media was giving coverage to the KJ faction, who were using the media to further their cause, RW was too smug dismissing the media as irrelevant, not even condescending to give them an interview to present his point of view. The possible reason might be that the media has constantly misrepresented him and he feels this will do more damage than help. In a media savvy world where the Govt. has used the media to its full advantage, being dismissive will come to haunt RW in future years, when he realizes what he could have done, and perhaps saved this country from ruin.

Both KJ and Sajith (SP) are too similar to the President. There is no comparison as Mahinda(MR) thrashes them in the opinion stakes. RW on the other hand is like chalk and cheese and after being much maligned, appears to gain more respect for his points of view even though he gets the blame for the state of the UNP today. The respect he has garnered as an individual, has actually risen in comparison.
The Working Committee is now pressured by the KJ faction to believe there is no alternative to him. RW has not defended his actions, nor has he canvassed his supporters in this time of need for him. Many people that RW helped amass fortunes are now with the President who is helping them amass fortunes. So his diminishing band of supporters will vote for change not because they like KJ at all but because they believe the time is up to give another person a stab at rebuilding.

There is talk by the anti-RW faction that MR will give him the Prime Minister’s post if he loses, which he is eminently capable of handling, but he would do no such thing as it would be ethically impossible for him to deal with so many issues of impropriety, that will compromise everything he stands for. We must concentrate on determining if KJ can build a consensus if he is elected Leader. RW is NOT agreeable to the classic compromise of taking the position of Leader of the Opposition, while KJ is made the Party Leader. This without recourse to a vote.

Battle lines are drawn, the main report today that the four main branches of the Maha Sangha recommend the Classic Compromise, is not an option for RW, so he MUST go for a vote of the fully constituted WC and the Parliamentary Caucus. This should be finished tomorrow once and for all, and whatever the outcome, the loser can sulk and leave politics, but the winner must embrace all comers and all party supporters, and include those from the opposing camps as advisors and into various senior posts in the party. Only then can the party move forward with a positive base, and be able to catch the vote of the fickle public.

As for the two most responsible for RW losing support, namely DR JJ and Ravi K, their future looks bleak if the KJ faction gain control. They are blamed for much of the problems in the UNP today, and it is not altogether undesirable to set them free. Their yeoman service without being a jumper however requires a little more thought in how to implement their exit from active politics, without hurting their feelings. In this case the KJ faction will want to keep all the decision making roles amongst their own and if they are unable to achieve their objectives in a few months, then I cannot see any future for the party with the new leadership either.

We must remember public opinion is a key to the success of the government or opposition. The govt. has done a huge amount of resource allocation for areas where they get instant recognition. It is important to make use of the media to your own advantage. RW has failed to do this despite the close ties he has with Media owners within his own family, and in fact has angered media of most papers by his taunts and lack of respect for them. RW may as a result be ousted by public opinion, created by the primarily state owned or state sponsored media mafia which has also set up shop in the island.

We must be patient to let the current suspects run their course and a new UNP leader emerges from the shadows to first be an effective opposition to the Govt. machinery and then be able to convince the masses that he can govern. This to me is likely just before the next presidential elections in about 5 years. So the next goal is 2015/2016 before a resurgence of the UNP can truly take place.

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