5th Column

Common candidate

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My dear Roshan,

I am writing to congratulate you on being sacked as the Minister of Sports. After battling Shammi, you again proved what we knew: We can change Presidents, governments, ministers and Sri Lanka’s status with the International Cricket Council (ICC), but we can’t change who runs cricket in Paradise.

That is why the lifespan of our sports ministers are very short. In the past 8 years, we have had 9 Sports Ministers: Mahindananda, Naveen, Dayasiri, Faiszer, Harin, Dullas, Namal baby, you and now Harin again. No wonder our sport is what it is today – pathetic.

You did give it a good try, and for a moment, when Parliament passed that unanimous motion asking for Shammi to be sacked, it seemed as if you had the upper hand. However, Shammi and the wheels of justice worked in mysterious ways. You were out of a Cabinet job before you could say ‘Sagala’.

In fact, you did say Sagala. You asked ‘who is he?’ in Parliament. Some say that is why you are out of a job now. So, now you know who he is. In Parliament, you made some startling statements that day. I hope you had planned your speech and didn’t make those remarks just on the spur of the moment.

Previously, also in Parliament, you said you didn’t want to drink even a glass of water from your boss’s office. Your boss let that go, without taking action against you. I can only assume you knew very well what you were doing and was prepared to get sacked when you made those accusations.

Why I say so is because, as a Minister, you can’t expect to accuse your boss of trying to endanger your life and tell the whole country that Namal baby thinks of him as a ‘snake’ – although Namal baby got all hot under the collar and denied it promptly – and still remain in the Cabinet he heads.

You are not the first minister to be sacked in Paradise. You probably won’t be the last. Still, the manner in which you were sacked was probably a first. It suggested that your boss was very angry with you. For someone who doesn’t show his anger easily, you must have annoyed him quite a bit!

He let you attend the meeting but asked why you met Sajith and also about a list for distributing land, then handed you the letter dismissing you and you had to leave. It must have been like a teacher sending a naughty boy out of the classroom – while your colleagues watched in stunned silence.

Your ‘loss’ was Harin’s gain. He will now go before courts, give an undertaking that your ‘Interim Committee’ is a thing of the past and restore Shammi’s status. Shammi will then write letters to the ICC saying ‘all is well’. Since the ICC does what Shammi wants, our suspension will be lifted.

Uncle Ranil, Harin and Shammi will then tell us they scored a great victory by convincing the ICC to invite us back – so that we can continue losing to countries such as Bangladesh and Afghanistan on a regular basis. Cricket in Paradise will continue as a business where only a few people make money.

What you told us about financial irregularities, audit reports, and reports from committees headed by judges will be in vain. Yet, I am congratulating you because, with all the publicity and goodwill you earned, you are one of a very small number from the ‘pohottuwa’ who will be guaranteed re-election!

Even so, we hear that it won’t be from the ‘pohottuwa’ that you will be running. Rumour has it that Sajith will have a place for you on his Polonnaruwa list. I will bet, with more confidence than I have on our team beating Zimbabwe next month – that you will win more preferences than Aiyo Sirisena!

Beware, though. They are hot on your heels accusing you of a scam to import vehicles. Charges of contempt of court have been filed against you for what you said in Parliament. Isn’t it funny that all this surfaces only after you leave Cabinet but no one noticed any of this while you were a minister!

We also found it strange that, through all this, support for you from the ‘rathu sahodarayas’ has been lukewarm. They have been all about punishing corruption but their response to corruption in cricket is quite muted. We wonder whether AKD missed a trick here, or is there more to it than meets the eye?

Shammi may think he ‘won’ against you but, in the final analysis, it was Sri Lanka’s cricket that lost. We admire you for what you tried to do and for having the courage of your conscience, even at the cost of your portfolio. The ‘third umpire’ who makes the final call will be voters at the next election.

Yours truly,

Punchi Putha

PS: Gota maama sacked Wimal and Udaya last year. It was the beginning of the end for him. Some say it could be the same for Uncle Ranil. Others are calling you the ‘common candidate’ already, but, after our experiment with one chap from Polonnaruwa, I don’t think we are ready for another just yet!