Ranil and Mano Ganeshan in 2009.
The UNP, historically, was sorta the party of the minorities – being united and national at all. It failed under JR Jayawardene in being largely responsible for the ’83 riots (or not stopping them). It’s failing today under his nephew Ranil Wickremesinghe in basically not showing up at all. The UNP has failed to form a coherent opposition at all, and people are suffering – minorities especially.
Tamils have been feeling it for a long time, but now Muslims are threatened by Sinhala racism as well. What’s sad is that the current government is directly and tacitly supporting this extremism, because a fair amount of their voters are racist Sinhalese. Tamils, Muslims and democratic leaning others, however, have no cards to play in this political scenario because Ranil has turned the UNP into a party without power, or even hope of power.
The Sri Lankan political system, like any political system, can protect minorities through party politics. As in the US, where Republicans are doomed to lose if they keep being racist, and are reforming. In Sri Lanka, however, Ranil has lost multiple elections and yet clings onto party leadership, in contravention of most honorable norms. This cripples the UNP and removes a vital bulwark protecting the rights of everybody.
This government has to take a stand against rising racism in Sri Lanka. However, this government won’t move until politics force it to. By making the UNP an impotent force, Ranil is threatening the safety of all the people who can only depend on it for political power. Muslims and Tamils have fractured into their own parties, but that won’t. There is racism rising in Sri Lanka that should be opposed. Yet thanks to Ranil, we have no opposition. What an incredibly selfish politician, and what a dangerous situation for us all.