Sarath visiting Kelaniya temple (Sanjaya Nallaperuma/Perambara)
Sarath Fonseka’s run has broken the traitor/patriot narrative that’s been dividing the country. Using the LTTE as a wedge Mahinda tried to divide the country along those lines (into those who love Sri Lanka and those who do not). The spear itself, however, broke and now the division is meaningless. It is now possible to be opposition without being a traitor.
War tends to clarify differences, beings as guns and claymores only point one way. Mahinda tried to exploit that by implying that those who were anti-war were also anti-Sri Lanka, or pro-LTTE. That is, that they did not love their country as much. This is not true and there were plenty of patriotic reasons to oppose the war. Some didn’t want to kill so many of their fellow civilians, some didn’t want to sacrifice soldiers and lose. I’d say that almost none actually supported the LTTE.
However, the government did win the war and that side was proved right. I’d argue that being anti-war was merely a different course of action, but after the fact it also tended to look wrong. Mahinda tried to stretch that to mean treasonous, and ride that mantle to victory.
Being as the ‘peaceniks’ led ostensibly by Ranil could barely string a sentence together in their defense, that was entirely possible. However, when Sarath Fonseka broke off and became the opposition candidate, aligned with peaceniks, the divisions suddenly became less clear. As they, in reality, are.
As the ruthless Army Commander, Sarath Fonseka’s credentials as a warrior are pretty much unassailable. However much he shoots himself in the foot now, he still shot enough LTTE to be a national hero on that front. I do think it’s sad that we apportion heroism that way, but I digress.
When he joined the opposition, the war issue suddenly became moot. Being opposition lost its tar of being somehow pro-LTTE (or in the benefit of the LTTE) and became just opposition. Which it should be. So I’m thankful to candidate Fonseka for that.