Nationalism as represented by the President Mahinda Rajapakse continues to dominate the politics of Sri Lanka, and it is the message given by the people at the Provincial Council elections in the western and southern provinces. The individual performances of some candidates have to be considered and interpreted in the above background and not in an absolute manner. While congratulating young Hirunika Premachandra for obtaining the highest number of preferential votes (manape) in the Colombo District it is foolhardy to say the people have voted for her in order to turn away the government from its nationalistic policies, which are identified and branded as Chauvinistic policies. If Hirunika Premachandra contested from the Mahajana Pakshaya of Vijaya Kumaratunga, which was not nationalistic, it is clear that she would not have obtained so many preferential votes. The personalities do matter but only with respect to a general background.
There was a time when the pundits and others who are identified as political analysts told us that without the so called minority vote it was not possible to form a government in Sri Lanka. This “analysis” had been driven into the minds of the SLFP leaders some of whom continue to be the leaders of the Party. They under the leadership of Chandrika Kumaratunga changed the nationalistic policies of the SLFP, the party had followed since about 1954. It has to be reminded that the SLFP contested the general elections in 1952 as a liberal party opposing the conservative UNP, and not as a nationalistic party. The SLFP under Chandrika Kumaratunga was not a SLFP and the party came to power in the early nineties in the Southern and Western Provincial Councils and later in the Parliament as the main party to oppose the “seventeen year curse (sapaya)” of the UNP.
The nationalistic forces were able to expose the myth that no government could be formed without the so called minority votes and in a country where the Sinhala population is around 75%, it was only necessary to obtain roughly two thirds of the Sinhala votes to form a government under the preferential system. If a party could poll around 88% of the Sinhala vote it could form a government with two third majority without any support from the so called minority parties. It is not an impossibility the way the UNP is being drawn into the orbit of the “minorities” under the “guidance” of the westerners but I would not advocate the SLFP and the UPFA to be a party of the Sinhala people only.
Since 2009 the Sinhala people have voted overwhelmingly for the SLFP and the UPFA with plusses and minuses but the trend remains the same. The most encouraging aspect is that the Sinhala Christians/Catholics have closed ranks with the Sinhala Buddhists in spite of the higher-ups of the respective churches advocating a different policy. It may be that the school takeover in 1962 finally taught the Sinhala Christians/Catholics that the Sinhala Buddhists are not against the religion of the former but against the pro western policies of the leadership of the Church. Though the ordinary Sinhala Christians/Catholics have realised the nationalistic intentions of the Sinhala Buddhists it is unfortunate that the same cannot be said of most of the leaders. The education still plays a big role in domination by the Greek Judaic Christian Chinthanaya, but unfortunately the government has not realised the threat it could pose to the nationalistic policies of the government.
The UNP was able to win Galle and the electorates in the Colombo city limits due to the ethnic and religious minorities living in the area, who appear to have voted for the UNP and not the SLFP led UPFA. The highest preferential votes in the Colombo District were obtained by a Muslim in the UNP list whether he is a supporter of Ranil Wickremesinghe or not. The person who poled the third highest preferential votes in the UNP in the Colombo district was also a Muslim, and Mano Ganeshan’s Party was able to push the UPFA to third place in two of the electorates within Colombo city limits. While the Sinhala people vote for the SLFP led UPFA in general, the “minorities” have a tendency to vote against that party.
The SLFP though nationalistic in many areas still lacks a nationalistic policy in development. The cost of living is a problem for the people mainly due to the spending attitudes of the people from Kurunduwatta to Kurundugahahathamma. The present education does not encourage people to change the consumerist attitudes of the people stemming from Greek Judaic Christian Chinthanaya. A great revolution in school education is needed but the leaders including the leading Buddhist Bhikkus have to resort to simple life and educate the masses by setting an example. No country including China seems to have an economic and development policy independent of the western policy and by trying to emulate a policy of somebody else based on the assumption that there is only one world the non western countries are only following the western countries to disaster. Mao forgot Tao and had to pay the price at the end. The present rulers of China also seem to have forgotten Tao and Yin Yang philosophy, and the development that China has acquired during the last twenty years or so is nothing but a mirage.
The Sinhala people and the SLFP should learn lessons from what has happened in the world during the last twenty five years, and should extend the nationalistic policies from the political arena to other fields as well. It is true that except on an individual basis the Muslims and the Tamils do not vote for the SLFP en masse, arising out of nationalistic feelings. While the Muslim countries in the world continue to vote with Sri Lanka in UNHRC and other fora the Muslims in Sri Lanka appear to vote against the SLFP led UPFA. There is a contradiction in this state of affairs, and leaders such as Hakeem form an obstacle in Muslims and Sinhalas coming together on a nationalistic basis.
The SLFP having won the confidence of Sinhala Christians/Catholics should strive to win over the Muslims and the Tamils based on nationalistic policies. It will take time as these policies cannot be worked out in a year or two. However, the west takes advantage of these delays, and would cultivate anti Sinhala feelings among those communities through TNA leaders, and leaders such as Hakeem and Mano Ganeshan. The SLFP should educate the Muslims and the Tamils of the historical injustices to the Sinhala people, especially the Sinhala Buddhists and that some of these have not been rectified after sixty six years of independence.
The west makes a hue and cry over the implementation of the LLRC report. The LLRC report is not a report of the government as it is only a report of a commission appointed by the government. The government is not bound to implement all the recommendations of the LLRC, and it is clear from the results of the Provincial Council elections held on Saturday the Sinhala people are against the implementation of the entire report. On the other hand the SLFP under Mr. SWRD Bandaranaike undertook to implement the Buddhist Commission report, a promise that has not been fulfilled to the satisfaction of the Sinhala Buddhists. It was on a recommendation of the Buddhist Commission that the schools were taken over in 1962, and the Christians/Catholics have now realised that proposal was not against their religions. The SLFP is the only nationalistic party that can address the cost of living problem as well as “reconciliation” of Sinhala people and others and it could be achieved by implementing the recommendations of the Buddhist Commission report rather than the LLRC report produced by a group some of whom who did not have grass for their feet. The SLFP should extend its nationalistic policies approved by the people to other areas not confining itself to the political arena.
Nalin De Silva