What is going on with the UNP? Ranil Wickremesinghe has lost every recent election for the party and wasn’t even confident enough to run in the last Presidential, making it the first election in history that the UNP hasn’t contested. Still, he clings to power and is even negotiating with the government on one side while more MPs flee the party on the other. While he got Mangala Samaraweera to abandon his party of one and join the UNP, he simultaneously lost two Tamil MPs. Indeed, many of the heavy hitters in the current government from GL Peiris to Keheliya Rambukwella are former UNPers (tho they crossed at different times). One wonders how Ranil has the gall to negotiate with the government when he can’t even control his own party.
The Sunday Leader has been hitting Ranil for alleged corruption, which I think is not the main point. Ranil may have misallocated party funds, but the bigger issue is that his policies have failed and he doesn’t win elections. This alone is enough to call for his ouster. I supported his cease-fire and the following development that came, but in hindsight the LTTE did use the cease-fire to re-arm and the development was largely limited to Colombo. I opposed Mahinda’s war but it worked whereas Ranil’s approach A) didn’t work and B) probably would have left Prabhakaran with a de facto state, one that he proved ready to die for.
On a purely practical level, Ranil can’t win elections. Last Parliamentary, the UNP lost in almost every district. It is losing party members in droves, it can’t raise money and it can’t even serve as a viable opposition because it is so weak. In any other democracy party and parliamentary pressures would force him out, but the UNP is not a democratic party and the government must actually like having him there. With Fonseka in jail and Ranil as opposition leader, any opposition is effectively neutered. This is bad for the country because we dearly need an opposition to keep the government honest.
Ranil has a cosy relationship with the government which seems to serve him alright, but it’s at the expense of party and country. There’s a news buzz about whether the UNP will pull out of talks with the government or not, I don’t know. What I don’t get is why Ranil has the gall to talk to the government at all. He should first listen to the voters, his own party, his own conscience and then get out.