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Arjuna Mahendran | Ranil Wicremesinghe

The reasons why UNP as a political party cannot win the coming general election decisively are many. The first and foremost is that the party, in the eyes of ordinary voter is not trustworthy any more given its policies and practices and even its foolish utterances regarding the war on terror in the past.

Much of what was promised when the interim administration was formed, has turned out be cropper, except the fuel price reduction, even here world fuel prices were falling in any case. But most other substantial promises like the upping of agro-support prices, wage increases and other more important relief measures promised have not been given, as promised

Under its present leader, the party has lost its nation-building image in politics and as a consequence lost several elections in the past, as voting majority public losing confidence in the party’s ability to address important national issues. This is the main reason why they are coming before the people for a mandate as a coalition partner of UNFGG, though retaining the party symbol. This is trickery in politics for a party considered as a GOP in Sri Lankan politics. Its inability to face competitive politics in recent years is largely due to its receding to espousing group interests rather than broad based national interests.

The prospects of the UNP in the coming election, not winning decisively is well analyzed by the London based reputed British weekly, The Economist of JULY 11TH issue in a report under the title ‘Rajapaksa redux’. The report refers to UNP leader’s difficulty at the forthcoming election in the face of Central Bank bond scandal. The reporting refers to it as ‘…However he (Ranil Wicremesinghe) has difficulties of his own, notably questions over the behavior of a friend, Central Bank Governor who faces allegations of impropriety in office. It is unlikely that Mr Rajapaksa will be swept aside in the forthcoming polls.A fragmented result, with nobody getting a comfortable majority, is quite possible’.

Tract record
The report further predicts the possibility of coalition-building and says, ‘It is worth remembering that Mr Rajapaksa, with his fighting spirit, has a record of being especially good at that.’ The Economist’s reporting appears rather accurate of the ground situation in the country as seen by a foreign correspondent. But there are many deep seated factors at play besides the Central Bank bond scandal, adversely affecting UNP’s chance of winning the polls decisively. The mass of rural and small town voters do not bother so much about intricacies of Central Bank finance, except the fact that a scandal at the country’s central bank is a serious matter. It is estimated that loss to the country on account of this bond scam has exceed Rs.72 billion so far. The economic repercussion of this is not readily understood by the people. The media should explain this in simple language for the general public, to understand it. But most voters are concerned about the UNP’s tract record during the 100 days of its current interim administration.

Much of what was promised when the interim administration was formed, has turned out be cropper, except the fuel price reduction, even here world fuel prices were falling in any case. But most other substantial promises like the upping of agro-support prices, wage increases and other more important relief measures promised have not been given, as promised. The manifesto of the UNP back coalition has been out and it promises to do all manner of things, including investments to creat 1 million new jobs in five years and high way development projects and many other massive projects. But not clear where the funds for all these, given the situation where government tax revenue has not increased in recent years it is not clear where funds for this massive investment projects can come. If it is foreign borrowings, then the recent Greece experience with EU should be a severe warning for the leadership of UNP. The UNP led interim government has stopped all development projects the previous government under Mahinda Rajapaksa had started, some half way completed, throwing thousands of people out of jobs. To restart these projects also require funding.

Bitter experience
Given this setting in the development field, one cannot see clearly how a new UNP administration can realistically implement projects promised in the manifesto.The voting public are well aware of what then UNP government under late J.R.Jayewardene had achieved under his so-called ‘dharmishta’ government even though voting public gave him a massive majority in Parliament 5/6, and tolerated his introducing a new constitution with very powerful executive powers, giving him power to do anything except effecting sex changes in men and women, as he was fond of boasting as president.

Reflecting back, people have not forgotten the terrible outcome of JRJ’s UNP government and that followed by his successor, Premadasa. 25-year civil war, terrorism, Indian intervention, mass killings of innocent people by LTTE terrorists, a southern insurrections by youths in frustration  and the loss of trust by our immediate neighbor India. All this is our history of bitter experience with UNP under powerful leaders like JRJ in the late 70s and 80s. No substantial change in the mindset of UNP leadership has taken place ever since except fine tunning it further to serve Colombo based group interests which the party has come to serve. It had lost its illustrious leadership quality and the majority of voting public do not trust the UNP anymore, and hence its inability to win decisively at the coming polls.