Congratulations; Mr Accidental President! A tough journey, isn’t it? Mr Ranil Wickremesinghe’s dream came true. But congratulatory messages from friends, so-called friends and foes beyond the island are yet to pour in. No doubt, there are many lessons to be learned from this exceptional political career of a rare personality. When you don’t have luck, don’t regret it, but create a way for luck to search for you. The best tools for that are political consciousness and ideological authoritarianism that can wipe out the competitors. Knowing very well that his dream was decided on simple mathematics, Wickremesinghe did not care much about the malicious criticism of him by various parties. His way to power is not our priority to discuss here as many people are talking from different points of view. But it is important that we guess how Ranil’s future political activities are going to shape national politics.
It is said that after assuming the presidency, Mr Wickremesinghe has decided to prorogue the Parliament. This is a vital step to further strengthen his power and in the meantime, he can strategically bring the country’s administrative affairs under his control. Simultaneously, members of his party, the United National Party (UNP), can create an atmosphere where they can dominate and influence the important institutions of the country. For instance, a known broker of his party representing Galle district and others have already started their deal politics. No matter how moral this is, it is vital for the UNP’s resurgence. The accidental President understood this better than anyone.
President will select his cabinet within days. The cabinet will be devoid of the Rajapaksas but will consist of the Rajapaksas’ followers. Therefore, it is inevitable that most cabinet decisions will be based on the Rajapaksas’ commands. Dissents of Wickremesinghe’s political rival, Sajith Premadasa’s party, will give considerable political authority too. However, President Wickremesinghe still has to depend on Rajapaksa’s political arm, Sri Lanka Podujana Peramuna (SLPP). The irony is, that the President has the power to decide its existence. This is how the current political trend has been hijacked by the President.
Although SLPP’s power to remove the president has been dissolved, it is undeniable that they still have bargaining power. Therefore, core members of SLPP will try their best to manipulate the President and his cabinet in the way they want. That is where the real conflict can arise. What will the president do in such a political context? This is where the importance of knowing the science of parasites comes in. The parasite secures its existence by using the very tree that gives life and gradually captures and destroys it. However, in politics, it is easy to gain power by inciting the sentiments of the common man, but political consciousness is necessary to maintain the power gained. When political consciousness wanes, many powerful political camps become miserable victims of parasites. Can it be argued that our new president was lucky to complete the term that former President Gotabaya Rajapaksa was sworn in with reference to the above natural phenomenon? That’s why we believe that there is no mistake in calling this presidency the accidental presidency.
The time left for the accidental president is secured. If he makes wrong decisions, there is an opportunity to bring impeachment against him, but it is unlikely to be passed by two-thirds of the parliament. But to further consolidate his power, he can dissolve parliament in seven months and call for a snap poll. There is a definite possibility that the UNP will be strengthened again in the election and the political power of other parties including the SLPP will surely melt away. Apart from the UNP, the only party that could benefit from that decision is the Janatha Vimukthi Peramuna (JVP). If JVP is smart they can come to terms with the President to have a lion’s share out of the election. However, no single party will get a two-thirds majority in the parliament and the solution will be a coalition government. Such a transfer of power would definitely benefit the President. It is then that many people who allegedly offered huge financial amounts to secure the appointment of the President will experience the bitterness of real politics.
As we reliably learnt, President Gotabaya Rajapaksa made a condition to tender the resignation on his infamous voyage from the Presidential Palace to Trincomalee. “Prime Minister Wickremesinghe should resign before me,” he told them. But many of them, including the Speaker, dreamt of becoming the President, without addressing the plight of the President. His request was in vain. He was isolated. Consequently, the Accidental President who was then Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe was able to take full advantage of it. That’s how he played the game. But he never ignored the rules. Accordingly, the politics that will take place in the next two and a half years have been manufactured by giving more advantages to Mr Wickremesinghe. You don’t need much more than that to understand the person who has the last laugh of all events. Studying to understand Wickremesinghe’s role in Sri Lanka’s political transition is homework for young politicians aspiring to become future leaders. Wickremesinghe played the Sri Lankan version of Nux in Mad Max Fury Road. Nux reaffirmed that “I live, I die, I live again”. So do Mr Wickremesinghe. Wish you all the best, Mr Accidental President.