Dude, get off the pot
Ranil Wickremesinghe is the master of neither shitting nor getting off the pot. Dude is practically part of the plumbing by now.
Ranil lost a Presidential election 14 years ago. I was there, I worked on the campaign, it was too bad. No one from the UNP has ever run again. Sri Lanka’s founding party hasn’t fielded a Presidential candidate in 14 years. Even now, Ranil is throwing the election to the old authoritarian regime rather than lose control of the party.
He is sacrificing his party to some long game, and he is sacrificing us.
The UNP under Ranil Wickremesinghe is a dictatorship, with disastrous consequences for our democracy. The best he has managed in 25 years is two fucked up coalitions with the opposing party, which inevitably blow up. Sometimes literally. This time the dysfunction was so bad that hundreds lost their lives in the Easter Attacks.
Still he continues, now 70 years old, presumably until he dies. On one level he’s a good national leader who adheres to democratic norms. On another, he has destroyed democracy within his own party. Since the systems are connected, the rot spreads. We end up in a national mess while he’s playing three dimensional chess.
The thing is, that Ranil is my sorta candidate. He’s democratic when in power, educated, from Colombo, intelligent, not a racist. He’s one of the best of a bad lot. I worked for his campaign in 2005 and have written and protested in support of him during the 2018 coup.
I like him, but he’s got to go. He is not allowing the UNP to regenerate, to evolve, to make mistakes and to grow.
People defending Ranil often ask who else, but that’s not the point. If you’re in a bad relationship or job you need to leave, even if you don’t know where you’re going to go.
Sri Lanka doesn’t have a primary system where people can vote for party leaders, nor do we even have internal party ballots. There is no committee, no oversight, it’s just people clinging on to power and typical Sri Lankans toadying up to whatever leadership, no matter how hopeless.
The result is that parties either get hopelessly constipated like the UNP or fracture like the SLFP. In fact, even the SLFP came about when SWRD Bandaranaike couldn’t find a place in the grand old party.
While Sri Lanka desperately needs internal party democracy, right now no one is even asking Ranil to let go of the party. He can sit on the pot, just let someone else use the urinal the 19th amendment made of the Presidency.
As Sajith is already running and seems the only person with a chance, the logical choice his him, but unlike previous proxies like Sarath Fonseka or Maithripala Sirisena, Sajith Premadasa is an existential threat. Beyond winning the election, Sajith could win over the party. Ranil’s precious.
I have of course written similar things to this before, and Ranil has still remained, and I don’t expect this to change anything, but this is nonetheless true, as it has been since our ancestors built working toilets in ancient Polonnaruwa. As long as there have been pots, people have been told to shit or get off of them. This is what I’m telling Ranil Wickremesinghe today.