I went to the most awesome carnival in Mannar, sponsored by Minister Rishad Bathiudeen as part of his election campaign. They had motorbikes in a barrel, a ferris wheel, merry-go-round, music, food, everything. I think I kinda get the real-politicking now. I honestly feel inclined to vote for the man now. I was hungry and Bathiudeen gave me kottu, I was bored and he gave me a ferris wheel, why wouldn’t I give him my vote.
I was with reporters from the Leader doing election coverage. From IDP camps to tea kades, it often broke down to people wanting stuff. They wanted the government and ministers to give them stuff, roads, houses, jobs, etc. We point blank asked someone recently resettled (not from this war) if they cared about democracy or other parts of the country. They said no.
To a big degree these campaigns seem to be about things, and the promise of things to come. So we get circuses now, and the promise of bread later. I honestly get it now. We were in Mannar and it’s beautiful, but there’s not much in the way of entertainment. I was just amazed that they got so much electricity.
They had everything, train rides, a merry go round, ferris wheel and then, in the coup de grace, a giant barrel with two people riding motorcycles inside. It had been a long day on the road, but I was grinning from ear to ear. I don’t know how involved Minister Bathiudeen was or where his money comes from, but it was a nice thing. Aside from policy, he just showed some presence in the community. And it was a positive association. When I think of Bathiudeen I think happy now. Perhaps it’s all rot underneath, but on a surface level it seems to work. They say people will be happy with bread and circuses. To a degree, I kinda get it. Circuses are really fun.