Mahinda’s war honeymoon is over. In the past month there have been crippling petrol and student strikes, plus a wholesale collapse of the national electrical system. Water, ports and railways have also threatened strikes. These are mundane things, but they are the type of grievances that topple governments. The only thing missing is a narrative to bind them together.
Mahinda had a plan for the war. It was a simple plan, marketed, funded and executed ruthlessly. He has no such plan for the economy. The basic idea seems to be to ride the wave of post-war prosperity. Indeed, a secure nation has opened up opportunities for many people.
However, mega-projects aside, his developments haven’t created many jobs. They have made for good commissions and contracts for companies (including many Chinese) but the daily wages I’ve seen in Hambantota and along the east coast rarely exceed Rs. 400. These projects are good in the long term, but they’re not putting food in people’s mouths now.
Cost Of Living
And the people are hungry. We have sacrificed tremendously in terms of the direct cost of war and its collateral drag on the economy. Moreover, the increasing size and decreasing competence of government has also drained our earnings while money printing has impoverished us via inflation.
People were willing to tolerate these issues for a reason, but that reason is over. The war is over, conclusively. People were happy and they put the stickers on their buses, but once the petrol runs out they’re won’t be so supportive.
If the power, petrol, water and transport staff strike at once it will shut down the entire country. Most of these people have already struck separately, plus the perennial parade of university students. They strike for the own reasons, some foolish some wise, but if they were united by a narrative they could actually change something.
Unfortunately, of course, there is no opposition to connect the dots. If they could, however, it wouldn’t be a pretty picture for Mahinda.