A snap election: Don’t even talk about it!

We are a nation of flibbertigibbets afflicted with logorrhoea. Look at the way most Sri Lankans keep whiling away their time. Prattle has become our favourite pastime and rumour mongers are going great guns. Gossip is the thing that gives most Sri Lankans the kick.

Political propagandists are thriving on this national trait. Like the legendary Hanuman, who once set Lanka ablaze by using his tail as a torch, the political monkeys give the public a daily dose of rumours and keep the flames of political uncertainty alive. They generate mass hysteria about a political leader’s raja yoga (sign of triumph and ascendancy in horoscopes) or maaraka (portent of death). The latest rumour being floated is about a snap election.

The internal strife of the government which erupted last week with three dissident ministers being sacked, we are told, will lead to an election. Rumours are usually not to be taken seriously but this particular one warrants discussion because it is being vigorously peddled by some key members of the Opposition.

Who needs an election at this juncture? That the government doesn’t need a premature election is clear from its desperate effort to strengthen itself in Parliament. If it is confident that an election is going to be a cakewalk, it won’t hesitate for a moment to dissolve Parliament and secure a comfortable majority. An election is a journey into the unknown. Remember that New Zealand politician who went by a pre-polls survey and promised to run naked in public, if he lost the election concerned. He lost! And he had to carry out the promise, which he did with a slight amendment though. He wore a G-string! That’s the way with elections. The UNF, which won handsomely in 2001 lost ignominiously in 2004! So, President Rajapakse, in spite of his battlefield successes and the debilitation of the UNP, may not want to take the gamble. Instead, he might engineer some more defections from the UNP. He has miles to go and many promises to keep before he is ready for an election.

In public, the UNP leaders may challenge the government to dissolve Parliament. But in private they shudder to think of a snap poll, having already been badly beaten at about 14 elections—we’ve lost count!

Eighteen of its prominent parliamentarians have defected to the government and some more are likely to follow suit. In short, it is in disarray as never before. Another electoral defeat will cause many heads to roll in the UNP, reforms or no reforms!

Utter the word ‘election’ and any JVP leader will run a mile. The JVP fears an election more than both the UNP and the SLFP. For, it is fully aware that its stellar performance at the 2004 election was a flash in the pan. It knows that a repeat performance at a future election is only will-o’-the-wisp. Had the JVP at least retained its ministries and completed its grandiose yet pro-people programmes like the tank rehabilitation project, it would have brought itself closer to the people. The JVP, to its credit, managed to make some difference in governance. But, some of its revolutionary pundits driven by the pre-diluvial shibboleth cooked their goose by turning down President Rajapakse’s offer to rejoin the government. That the number of JVP parliamentarians will plummet drastically, if it goes it alone at an election is a foregone conclusion. The JVP obviously doesn’t want to be branded as an outfit which has failed in both revolutions and democratic politics.

The JHU is the party that can least afford to face an election. It has apparently come to terms with the political reality. For, it doesn’t ask for an election and is trying to build its vote base as evident from its decision to accept a ministerial post. One of the first few things that the new Environment Minister Champika Ranawaka (JHU) has done is to lend an ear to the trishaw operators battling a government ban. There are 1.5 million people dependent on trishaws. A lot of votes to be tapped! The JHU seems to know which side of its political bread is buttered.

The TNA will also have its work cut out at an election. The LTTE has lost the East and in the North, too, it cannot deliver as many votes as it did in 2004 to them through large scale rigging. A sharp drop in the TNA numbers in Parliament as a result will mean a massive blow to the LTTE on the political front as well. So, whatever the TNA may say in public, it is doubtlessly wary of an election.

Thus, a snap election which is going to cost a great deal to the public purse is not something that any political party can afford to face. It is a frightening proposition for the public who has to pick up the tab. On the other hand, they know that an attempt to improve their lot through an election is like, as a saying goes, changing pillows to cure a headache. They have experimented with pillows of all colours and are fed up with them.

Rumours of a snap election serve no one’s purpose other than that of those who seek to create uncertainty in the minds of investors and confusion in the minds of the frontline troops. -The Island Editorial

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Posted on February 15, 2007, in Sri Lanka and tagged , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Comments Off on A snap election: Don’t even talk about it!.

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