The UNP office in Kotte, 2012.
Dharisha Bastians has a good blow-by-blow of the recent defection of Dayasiri Jayasekera to the government. Here’s the money quote. It’s from Jayasekera at a press conference:
“Even if he loses in 2014, he will remain leader of the party. If the lampposts within the Working Committee give him another term, he can remain in office for the rest of his life. His leadership is a blessing to the Government. We fought our battles within the party. I am no longer interested in staying in the party, fighting him and being harassed by him. We don’t know how long more we will have to fight him. The years I have left I want to spend serving the people. We will not be popular forever. I believe the people would endorse my move to step out. The defeatists within the UNP are defeating the people.”
“After defeat at the 2014 poll, the Opposition will attempt to attain power again only 2022. I am not willing to wait till then. For 20 years, the people of this country have suffered because of this UNP leadership. It is not the UNP that is making them suffer, but the party’s leadership. When compared with the UNP leadership, I don’t see the President’s leadership as being dictatorial,” he said in a parting shot, pledging to put all his efforts into getting Rajapaksa re-elected in 2014.” (Daily FT)
He’s basically right. Though jumping from an unsuccessful dictator to a successful one is a bit of a frying pan/fire sort of thing. Basically a set of bad options. But Ranil’s destruction of the UNP is so contemptible that I’m surprised anyone can stay in there for long. Mahinda retains power not by legal maneuvering but by actually cultivating and retaining support among enough people to form a majority. Ranil just maintains control of a majority and entrenches himself like it’s a private company, not a political party. In politics there’s a sort of unspoken rule that if you don’t have political support you step down, but Ranil actually doesn’t care. That unspoken rule is governed by shame, of which he appears to have little, even for a politician.
Dayasiri’s a talented politician (and dancer) and it’s a shame to see one more leave the UNP. I fear that it won’t rebuild until basically everyone has left.