THE RAJPAL ABEYNAYAKE COLUMN
(Rajpal Abeynayake, Attorney-at-law, was the former Editor-in-Chief of the Daily News, the Sunday Observer, and the English language weekly, Lakbimanews.)
Ravi Karunanayake resigned. His portfolio, that is.
It is an event that caused some political convulsions, but would cause many more. Probably.
Whatever remains of the legitimacy of this government is gone, or if not completely gone, is hanging by a thread.
This was not a mere scandal. It was out in the open, and the facts of the case were plain enough, for the ordinary man to see and decide, that egregious corruption was involved.
The events surrounding the resignation of the involved party from his Cabinet portfolio, were a complete disgrace.
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They added insult to injury. Here is egregious corruption involved, and this man was attempting to make a virtue of it.
Comparisons with the ‘previous lot’ makes matters much worse, and this makes me think that the UNP’s strategies on this matter are from the playbook of ‘what not to do when in crisis.’
On two counts, the comparisons with the previous lot are almost totally untenable.
One is that for the most part, however powerful they may have sounded, the corruption issues against the previous lot were mostly allegations, which were unproven, not due to anything wanting on the part of the AGs Department prosecutors, but simply because there just wasn’t enough evidence.
The second issue is that, more importantly, the current lot came to power on the express promise of cleaning things up. But the most egregious act of corruption, the Bond issue, fraudulent to an extent that anybody can see it, has made the Yahapalana promise completely untenable, and has taken place on their watch. Harking back to the previous lot in this context is obnoxious, and is an insult to the intelligence of the masses.
Any attempt to keep Karunanayake, or to facilitate his return to the Cabinet with a different portfolio would be an act of corruption in and of itself.
Under these circumstances, quo vadis Yahapalanaya?
It doesn’t look as if it has much of a distance to go from here. Yahapalanaya is a dead letter now, for all intents and purposes.
It’s a matter of time before it’s replaced.
But by who and what?
There are far too many interested parties trying to keep the Rajapaksas out of power at any cost.
That being the case, it is unlikely the Rajapaksas — any one of them — would return to power, though there is a mass following for the Rajapaksa brand that is undeniable, so undeniable that perhaps only Chandrika Kumaratunge alone among the anti Rajapaksa forces, would blithely try to deny that fact!
But yet, I daresay, a Rajapakse is probably destined to be the next Prime Minister. Yes, improbably none from the Rajapaksas, but yet, it’s a Rajapakse.
He straddles the twilight zone between unacceptable and totally unacceptable.
But, he has the powers that decide the powers-that-be in this country behind him, and those are not ‘the people’ either.
Anyone would be better than the hit and miss Ranil Wickremesinghe, and that’s especially so among the Kingmakers.
So therefore, it is more than a hunch that they have decided their man is Wijedasa.
Wijedasa Rajapaksha is playing the part to the hilt.
If somebody is willing to push him towards the political hot seat – the premiership in this case — this man is willing to play the part, and go through the contortions.
If anybody is willing to spoon feed him onto the hot seat, he does have the ambition.
Is he a good replacement?
No. He is opportunist, and is not in any way shape or form, even threatening to be competent.
He is so pretentious, it makes someone like myself sick in the stomach. Full of false ballast, and slippery and oily to boot.
But if the powers that anoint the powers-that-be have decided, he may still get the job, once the machinations are worked out.
And of course bad as that may be, anybody, just anybody would be better than the totally underachieving and mealy mouthed Wickremesinghe, who spells disaster with a capital D.