in politics only to be part of a government, thought what Wickramasinghe dressed the UNP with, the "United" Sri Lanka dress was the undoing at its electoral forays. Unfortunately for the country though it may be for Wickramasinghe too, he was a "politician" with absolutely no sense of who a politician is though brought to politics by his own "Uncle" JRJ, considered a political wizard.
A too liberal a mind, Wickramasinghe who thinks it’s the economy that decides everything and the people could be manipulated by media stints and international support, in fact is the spanner in the UNP's wheel. With him as the leader, enjoying a party constitution that lacks everything democratic in a political party that talks democracy for the people, the issue becomes how the UNP could be made pro active in an ethnically divided and polarised society. Instead, the UNP leadership goes round making itself a "buddy" of "Mahinda Chinthanaya".
Political parties are there to 'lead' and not to 'follow' the people. They have to have a vision for the country that has to be discussed in society and turned and nurtured into social ideology. Thus UNP's issue should be to work out how it could "lead the people" by establishing its own ideology as opposed to the present regime. The offer to the people should be a new ideology for "social reconciliation and development" and not how it would join the "crowd" by adopting the JHU-JVP forged Sinhala ideology which is now Rajapaksa's ideology. That does not need duplication.
This "new" policy of the UNP which in fact is the same old policy of the Bandaranayakes' from mid 50's that was injected with intravenous brutality by the present Rajapaksa regime is not what the Sri Lankan society needs right now. The Sri Lankan society can ill afford to live with such brutality and needs a leadership that can provide a civilised, democratic alternative. This policy as put forward by the UNP "for a victorious broad national consensus" with the tag line "Let's bring a meaning to this blessed land – Let's establish a republic instead of a kingdom" is pure rhetoric. There is absolutely nothing new in terms of policy that has not been promised before in the 60 years since independence. We have heard all these niceties about "democracy, good governance, transparency, poverty alleviation, social justice and welfare, non aligned foreign policy, sovereignty, etc., etc." in all pre election periods when political parties tuck their sarongs up to climb the victory post.
This is again a nonsensical wish list for those in the UNP who are crazy about grabbing political power. Their insane desire to be in power is nakedly exhibited in the hard lines written into policy which says "all chairmen and secretary posts and the majority of all political organisations created by the alliance should be with the UNP". That is further hardened by saying there could be no compromise on the UNP symbol, "elephant". Is this the "victorious broad national consensus" they are talking of ? There can not be any semblance of a consensus with such stupidity in calling for consensus with hard conditions laid down in advance. Conditions that leave no space for equality and mutual respect within an alliance, which they call the "consensus". This clearly sounds a desperate call. One which says, "you have to help us to come to power".
With a party mindset that is extremely authoritarian in calling for a consensus, the only piece of policy this document talks of is, power "Sharing at the Center as Well as Periphery". That is clearly and loudly defined as power sharing in a "UNITARY" state. For one like S.B. Dissanayake who is now credited with copy right for this document, it should be a far cry to achieve such power sharing within a unitary State even with Indian expertise. No "State" remains unitary irrespective of the label given, when power is devolved to other geographical units within a Constitution that guarantees space for devolution. Therefore to devolve power, one should understand that the Sri Lankan State has to be restructured to remove its centralised form in all things "peripheral". Though there would remain a strong "central" government as in India, it would not be "centralised" governance as the State gets structured into two layers. Thus it is best for these authors to understand the difference between "government" and "State", which they always misuse in their very Sinhala mindset.
This could well be understood in the conflict and contradiction there is in the present constitution since the 13th Amendment. Allowing for a highly centralised Executive while devolving power to the provincial councils leaves no chance for power at "peripheries". If the Constitution allows for such duality as it has at present, then the next layer of the State at provincial level becomes defunct and subordinate. There can not be any such duality when devolving power, is a lesson the present Constitution teaches all who wants to learn about devolution of power. The only piece of policy the UNP adopted therefore reduces itself to political garbage.
Thereafter, this policy document has nothing that talks of the present political context. Nothing about how the UNP would handle the issue of Tamil displacement in the North-East. Nothing about their policy on future rehabilitation of these displaced Tamil people. There isn't a word about reconciliation in this country that bled to savage polarisation on an ethnic divide. The UNP does not seem to know that this country is now heavily militarised and for every 85 individuals, there's a modern, battle hardened Sinhala soldier with a promise for further increase in the military and the defence budget going up beyond the 177 billion budgeted for this year. What plans have the UNP on those issues ? Will they continue in the same vein ?
This policy document has only a single line that says, "there has to be a media that censors itself with the right of the people to have information respected". How that could be achieved after the present government re-established the Press Council, is not been even hinted at. There is no mention what so ever about all the human rights violations, abductions, disappearances, extra judicial killings, extortions that were carried out with impunity in the past few years. Will there be actual and proper investigations carried out for all such issues and cases ? What is the UNP stand on them ? It sounds the UNP is willing to throw them in the dustbin of Sinhala chauvinism.
If the UNP is talking of policy, they have a duty, a responsibility to tell the people of this country where they stand on each of those issues. They can not be ignored as trivia any more. UNP's solid silence on them clearly means this UNP and Wickramasinghe are playing for Sinhala votes only and thus their development if possible, is for the Sinhala country.
I therefore wonder how they would translate this policy document to Tamil language to ask the Tamil public to vote for the UNP at the Jaffna and Vavuniya local government elections a fortnight away. That is, if they ever have anything called a political conscience. There, I agree, I may be wholly mistaken.