It is the season of alliances. With local government elections pending, forming an alliance seems to be the trend- but these alliances only reflect the pathetic plight of the participating parties and their desperate struggle for political survival.

Leading the way are the ‘big two’, the two parties which are currently governing the country, not because they enjoy a mandate from the public anymore but because circumstances dictate that they do.

Officially at least, the Sri Lanka Podujana Peramuna (SLPP) and the United National Party (UNP) are not in an alliance to contest local polls just yet but everyone is aware that the two parties are talking to each other about the best possible practical arrangement. The most likely outcome is that there will be a ‘UNP list’ on what used to be traditional UNP strongholds (such as in the urban areas) accommodating SLPP candidates and there will also be a ‘SLPP list’ on what used to be traditional SLPP strongholds (such as the deep South or Rajarata) accommodating UNP candidates.

There is no rhyme or reason why the SLPP and the UNP should come together politically- except for the fact that SLPP chose Ranil Wickremesinghe who leads the UNP as President, replacing their own Gotabaya Rajapaksa.

The other, often unsaid but equally obvious reason is that both the SLPP and the UNP are mortally scared that if they get beaten badly- as the UNP was at the last general election- it will create a wave of support for whoever beats them- be it the Samagi Jana Balavegaya (SJB) or the Jathika Jana Balavegaya (JJB)- that will carry through to the next national elections, both presidential and general, due by 2024 and 2025 respectively. The SLPP and the UNP hierarchy believe that contesting together will diminish the possibility of a defeat of such magnitude.

The Sri Lankan voter, we believe, is more intelligent than that, especially after witnessing the tumultuous events of 2022 which sent Gotabaya Rajapaksa fleeing from President’s House. In fact, that fact that the UNP and the SLPP have now combined could well alienate them even more from the average voter.

It is laughable that the SLPP- an offshoot of the SLFP- and the SLFP’s arch-rival for decades, the UNP should now co-habit in a partnership. D.S. Senanayake and S.W.R.D. Bandaranaike or even Sirima Bandaranaike and Dudley Senanayake would be turning in their graves at this turn of events!

Then, another alliance was born last week. That included the Sri Lanka Freedom Party (SLFP), the Uttara Lanka Sabhagaya (ULS) led by Wimal Weerawansa, Udaya Gammanpila and Vasudeva Nanayakkara and the Nidahasa Janatha Sabhawa (NJS) led by G.L. Peiris and Dullas Alahapperuma.

Also joining in to form this new alliance of parties were several other smaller political parties such as the group of SLPP dissidents led by Anura Priyadarshana Yapa, Athuraliye Rathana thero of the Vijaya Dharani Jathika Sabhawa and Gevindu Kumaratunga of the ‘Yuthukama’ organisation. Together, they now call themselves the Nidahasa Janatha Sandhanaya (NJS).

This is an alliance of convenience and consists of politically disparate partners who are like chalk and cheese. One recalls how Wimal Weerawansa ridiculed Maithripala Sirisena during the 2015 presidential election campaign, mocking him in public rallies. Yet, there in the same alliance now.

Similarly, Athuraliye Rathana thero and Gevindu Kumaratunga, known for their communalist rants from time to time, shares the stage with the likes of Vasudeva Nanayakkara and Tissa Vitarana who, whatever their faults, do not subscribe to racism. Then there is G.L. Peiris who has cohabited politically with Chandrika Kumaratunga, Ranil Wickremesinghe, Mahinda Rajapaksa and Gotabaya Rajapaksa- and has betrayed all of them at some time or the other. Therefore, this newly formed NJS represents a collection of political opportunists, if ever there was one.

The common thread that binds this group of people is that they all contested from the SLPP at the last general election in August 2020. With the popularity of the SLPP down in the dumps now and another general election due in 2025 (or even earlier, if Parliament is dissolved), the politicians who lead these different partner parties realise that if they don’t distance themselves from the SLPP right now, their fate too will be sealed at the next poll. Hence this mad rush to form a separate alliance.

It is quite likely that the voter will see through this ruse quite easily. After all, the leading personalities in this alliance are all who said ‘Yes, Sir’ to the Rajapaksas for decades without a murmur of dissent. So, what is the guarantee that they won’t once again re-align with the Rajapaksa dynasty? Why then should the voter trust these assorted group of political ‘has been’s who are engaged in a last resort attempt at returning to power or, at least to Parliament at the next election?

Then, the most recent alliance to come into fruition is a partnership between the Nawa Lanka Nidahas Pakshaya, led by Kumara Welgama and promoted by Chandrika Kumaratunga and the ‘Group of 43’ led by Champika Ranawaka. Both of them contested the August 2020 general elections under the banner of the SJB but have since distanced themselves from that party, though not officially relinquishing all ties. The prospects of this alliance are unclear because these are two new, relatively less known political parties making their debut, their only redeeming feature being the forceful personalities of their respective leaders.

So far, the only two major parties not to engage in forming alliances is the SJB and the JJB. In fact, some constituent parties of the SJB are considering going it alone in areas where they are politically strong. This indicates that both the SJB and the JJB have the confidence that they can muster enough support by themselves, instead of having to rely on other parties to boost their numbers.

The formation of the kind of alliances we saw emerging in recent weeks is therefore an insult to the intelligence to the Sri Lankan voter who, we hope, will reflect that sentiment when marking their cross on the ballot paper.




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