5th Column

Muddled memories

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My dear Mahinda maama,

I am writing to you after hearing that you suddenly issued a statement about selling State institutions. It was then that I realised that you were still around. Otherwise, we were hearing only from Basil and Namal baby who also made an appearance on a talk show recently, making some interesting remarks.

You want Uncle Ranil to halt the ‘privatisation’ of government-owned institutions until the next big election. You recalled the time you were in charge, saying you didn’t privatise a single institution. In fact, you took back some which were sold earlier and the economy ‘flourished’ under you, you claim.

What you have conveniently forgotten to include in your statement is that this ‘flourishing’ economy collapsed a few years later when Gota maama was the boss, you were PM and Basil was Finance Minister. It is not just your political rivals saying that, the highest court in the land said so too.

You are entitled to your opinions, Mahinda maama, but what is baffling us is whether you consider yourself to be part of the government or the opposition. We are under the impression that this is still a ‘pohottuwa’ government because 15 out of 19 ministers were elected from the ‘pohottuwa’.

True, Uncle Ranil is the boss and he leads the push for privatisation. Still, it was the ‘pohottuwa’ which chose Uncle Ranil as the boss after Gota maama ran away two years ago, opting not to vote for your own man, Dullas. It is still the ‘pohottuwa’ people that we see, running the affairs of the State.

Your friend Mahinda’s son Kanchana doesn’t mind changes being made to the Electricity Board. He and your ‘golaya’s, ‘Kappam’ Prasanna, Pavithra and Bandula are all in the Cabinet. They sing Uncle Ranil’s praises as do those you mentored who are in the ‘B’ team, Shehan, Lohan, Pramitha and Dilum.

So, Mahinda maama, if you don’t like what Uncle Ranil is doing, selling off anything and everything that can be sold, shouldn’t you summon your ministers and state ministers and tell them to oppose this publicly, instead of issuing statements on the sly? Or, is it that they no longer listen to what you say?

We know that Basil and Uncle Ranil meet almost every week. Basil pleads for a general election to be held first and Uncle Ranil just smiles, says ‘salakala balannam’ and does nothing. Surely, since all of you are now very good friends, Basil can have a quiet word in Uncle Ranil’s ear about privatisation?

That is why people are puzzled by your statement. Some wonder whether you have woken up from a long political slumber. Others make unkind remarks about age catching up with you. So, reflecting on all this, Mahinda maama, do you think you should have left the political stage some time ago?

Yesterday was the fifteenth anniversary of the end of the civil war. Those were your glory days. You were hailed as the saviour of the nation. People wrote songs about you. They said ‘MR’ stood for ‘Maha Rajaaneni’ or ‘Great King’. Who wouldn’t want to be remembered in that manner?

Having won the war, you had a unique opportunity to resolve differences between our communities. The majority community had so much faith in you, they would have accepted any ‘solution’ you offered in your second term. Instead, you played to the gallery with your eyes firmly set on a third term.

You embarked on many projects that carried your name, be they harbours, airports, conference halls or cricket grounds. Most of them are white elephants now. There were many allegations of corruption. Your ‘golaya’s were drunk with power. Ultimately, even someone like Aiyo Sirisena could defeat you.

All that cannot be undone now. That is also why listening to Namal baby the other day was very interesting. One would have thought he would have learnt from past mistakes and become a better politician. Ah, but sons of Presidents seldom do that. He is not the first one to make that mistake!

Namal baby does not think that, apart from making organic fertiliser compulsory, Gota maama made any other mistakes. He sees the shortages of fuel, gas and electricity as being the result of the Covid pandemic. The ‘aragalaya’ was a conspiracy to oust the ‘R’ clan and it was an ‘inside job’, says he.

However, that was not his best piece of wisdom. No ‘pohottuwa’ supporters are responsible for the May 9 attacks near Temple Tress and on ‘Gota Go Gama’ and the late Sanath was leading people only to ‘protect’ them, he says. To his credit, he manages to keep a straight face while saying this too!

We know that the ‘pohottuwa’ is desperate. You are not in a position to field a suitable candidate for the big race due in a few months’ time. That is why some suggested that you should let Namal baby run. It was then that you said, “he has some more time”, Mahinda maama. Now we all know why!

Yours truly,

Punchi Putha

PS: You may worry about what happened to the Green party happening to the ‘pohottuwa’, about the party dying a slow death. Still, Mahinda maama, the political culture introduced by the ‘pohottuwa’ is very much alive and well. If you need proof, just watch ‘Miris Kudu’ Prasanna in action at the airport!

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