In Westeros, you win or you die. In Sri Lanka they don’t cut off your head, but you can definitely end up in exile. Ask Srimavo B, or Sarath Fonseka.
Maithripala Sirisena, however, did not exile Mahinda Rajapaksa – the biggest and most dangerous loser on the island. He even gave him nominations in the General Election. Why? What was he thinking?
The only explanation I can think of comes from another movie quote:
However, in keeping old racist-breath close, what leverage does Maithri have? These are some reports of a memo, according to Jeyaraj. This stuff is all obviously still being negotiated, so treat them as possibilities.
1. No Plus Ones
Mahinda can’t bring anyone to the party. There’s word that Basil Rajapaksa, Duminda Silva, Mervyn Silva – basically the rogues gallery – will not be given nominations. Along with 44 ex-Parliamentarians. That means the price for getting in could be isolating him in Parliament.
Update: dunno about the 44 number but some haven’t gotten nominations.
2. Talk To The Hand
Mahinda was not given nominations by the SLFP. He was given nominations by the UPFA – the broader coalition. Mahinda can run under the betel leaf symbol (the UPFA) but not necessarily the hand (SLFP).
Simple thing, but it means that Sirisena can still pull the SLFP out of coalition and leave Mahinda behind. He can start another coalition (maybe under the swan) and isolate Mahinda that way as well.
3. Helping Hambantota
Maithri is reportedly forcing Mahinda to contest in Hambantota. This means he can only draw a limited amount of votes compared to, say, Kurunegala. It also means that he’s not leading the national campaign.
Update: It seems like MR will be contesting from Kurunegala after all
So those are the advantages of keeping Mahinda close. Or at least the possibilities.
Maithri obviously wouldn’t have any problems if he hadn’t given Mahinda nominations at all, but I don’t think he – politically – had a choice. Mahinda has political support.
Maithripala could have said fuck it and gone all dictator, but thankfully he didn’t do that. You know that President Mahinda wouldn’t care about niceties like the law, he’d just put citizen Sirisena in jail.
President Sirisena, however, is working within the political system. It’s risky, but I do admire him for that. I don’t know if it will work, but I do respect Maithripala for what many people may call weakness. Even though it’s in his own interest to keep Mahinda out, he is adapting to different political pressures and being a representative rather than a dictator. Let’s hope he can keep his balance.