Editorial

PCR moves, Sajith beware!

Summary

Sajith Premadasa is the leader. For now. He better watch his back!

Patali Champika Ranawaka (PCR) has resigned from the Jathika Hela Urumaya (JHU), along with a bunch of others. The ‘others’ are inconsequential. Where PCR goes, they go too; add-ons who make up numbers and not too many either. It’s PCR’s move that counts.

The JHU had its moments. Back in 2004, following the death of Ven Gangodawila Soma Thera in mysterious circumstances, the Ceasefire Agreement that the then government signed with the LTTE and other developments which caused consternation among Buddhists, PCR orchestrated the unexpected — Buddhist clergy entering parliamentary politics. They secured nine seats.

The JHU would later support Mahinda Rajapaksa in his presidential campaign, PCR would enter Parliament courtesy the resignation of Ven Omalpe Sobitha Thera’s resignation and become a cabinet minister. PCR’s political star was in ascendence. The JHU declined.

PCR’s history makes interesting reading: 1) Janatha Vimukthi Peramuna (as a university student), 2) Jathika Chinthanaya (towards the end of his university days), 3) Ratawesi Peramuna, 4) Janatha Mithuro, 5) National Movement Against Terrorism, 6) Sihala Urumaya, 7) JHU, 8) United People’s Freedom Alliance, 9) United National Front for Good Governance, 10) Samagi Jana Balavegaya (SJB), the last three consequent to alliance agreements that the JHU entered with major parties (SJB is ‘Nava UNP’ nothing else).

Of these, the first 9 are either nonexistent or of no consequence. PCR, on the other hand, is of consequence. To be fair, he has been quite open about his view of political organizations: means to an end. As all politicians do, PCR cited ‘the political needs of the moment’ and threw in ‘the nation’ and ‘the people’ into the explanation. He fools no one. It’s primary about PCR doing what’s good for PCR.  

But why move and why now? It could be argued that had PCR quit the JHU and dissolved that party (as he has now — the party remains in name with new office-bearers of even less consequence than those who moved with PCR) a few years ago, he may have emerged as a compromise candidate during the Ranil-Sajith spat which resulted in the forming of the SJB.

Better late than never, then, one might say. Now, unfettered by the not so compelling fact of being the leader of an add-on party in the SJB, he can and probably would position himself as a better option than Sajith to contest the next presidential election. His credentials are certainly far superior and moreover simply because he is not Sajith, PCR might even orchestrate reconciliation between the two factions of the Grand Kolumbian Party, the UNP.  

Sajith Premadasa is the leader. For now. He better watch his back!  

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