Politics is a dirty game, but the dirty tricks department of the UNP is beyond the pale. Winning at any cost seems to be the mantra of the party and there is an overdriven moral degeneration that’s taking place which has left the people speechless.
Examples abound. There was the fiasco centering on the attempt to show that Mahinda Rajapaksa had assaulted a supporter in Akuressa. Anyone who had taken a cursory look at the video of the incident – anybody with a tincture of morals intact, that is – would have known instantly that no such thing happened.
Whatever happened on that day notwithstanding, there was no assault, and anyone with a pair of functioning eyes knew it.
Subsequent explanations by the individual concerned, served to underscore this truth. There were milling crowds, and somebody who was over exuberant, had been pushed so hard that he yanked Rajapaksa’s finger in the melee.
The latest in the dirty tricks effort is obviously the attempt to ensnare one of Rajapka’s sons in the alleged murder of a ruggerite.
The former DIG CID returned his verdict on the Thajudeen affair. It was an accident. This DIG was transferred on May 26, and the next day, the very next day folks, a new DIG proclaims that the death was a homicide.
How some other cases that concerned the fortunes of UPFA bigwigs were concluded, is now common knowledge. What’s happening after the new Yahapalana government was inducted, is a surreal tragic comedy that would go down in history as the most bizarre phase of hypocritical excess in Sri Lankan history.
No government has, in the country’s entire post independence history, gone after family members of opponents attempting to frame them for murder, no less, doing all that wearing the rainbow colored halo.
This has prompted a studied response from the UPFA which is now a grassroots effort, as opposed to the grotesque, largely foreign sponsored juggernaut of the UNP.
Last week the UPFA changed tack, and coupled its development platform to a relief package, which was an overwhelming necessity considering that the party had partially let down its suburban support base in particular.
In the said urban and suburban sprawl, where the middle class lives in numbers, the progressive support base of the UPFA had expected a peace dividend, but was not delivered anything substantial that measured up to their expectations.
This time, the Rajapaksa team has applied the necessary correctives. There is help for school leavers and private sector employees, and those who are in the marriage market.
That last item has been made to sound silly in parts of the media, but for anxious parents who want to see their offspring married off, this kind of state sustenance is not a joke.
Lee Kwan Yew, of all people did this kind of social engineering in Singapore, and he was never derided as a populist. He may not have given the incentive in terms of money, but he organized state matchmaking services.
People had been lifted out of poverty by the last UPFA regime, and that was the natural follow through in ending the long drawn out war. But that clearly wasn’t enough for the middle classes that power a nation’s rise and rise.
It is heartbreaking for instance, to see old photographs of the slums by the Han River, in South Korea for instance.
These were vast acres of cadjan and cardboard affairs, far worse than the worst of our Wanathamulla slums.
Today, when people refer to urban slumland ‘wattas’ in Sri Lanka, they still call them Koriyawas, because old habits die hard. There are no slums along Han River now, but there is a thriving megalopolis with chic electronics shops and restaurants that offer haute cuisine. And we in Sri Lanka export labor to power Korea’s economic miracle.
The middle classes have to be empowered, and this is through industry and commerce, but social engineering plays a part in readying the middle class work forces for nation building, and in Brazil for instance, that Lula’s social engineering lifted millions of people out of poverty, and then empowered the middle classes, is legend.
This area of empathy and empowerment was the chink in Mahinda Rajapaksa’s armor, and this time he has got around to fixing it with a program that took months to create. It is a fait accompli now, a new deal that puts Rajapaksa in the class of some of the classic progressives of our time such as Lula, and Chavez.
The snorting sounds we hear in the background are of the neo liberals complaining.
Take one look at the UNP document, and it is clear the writing is in the wall. Insurance would replace free universal health care, and that is per the prevailing austerity dogma that has buried Greece.
Of course much before Greece was on the newsman’s crosshairs, pruning welfare has been part of the IMF aided neo liberal mantra.
Already, the howls of protest are being heard, with the neo liberal torch bearers in government getting their troops to attack the new UPFA platform as being ‘populist.’
This coming from a political outfit that gave 20000 for each new pregnancy and brought down the price of kottamalli as a relief measure (!) is somewhat rich, but within the hundred days allotted, the UNP wasn’t able to live down its previous reputation as the heartless right wing agglomeration of the robber barons, as JRJ liked to call them.
Today, the battle lines are clearer than they have been for a long time. The foreign funded civil society organizations, the opportunist JVP, and the January 8th counter revolutionaries are fielded under one banner, that of the Elephant.
The veil is off. These are all UNP forces, in the raw, and they represent the heavy hand of ownership and capital. A world about the JVP. No amount of masquerade can hide the obvious — the greening of the JVP, which seeks to siphon off progressive votes, but would in reality shave off the more radicalized elements of the UNP.
This gallery of capitalist predators had one thing missing, a mascot, but now they have that too in the form of the cherubic and ever obliging Arjuna Mahendran, whose only missing accoutrement is a Texan ten gallon hat.