The Opposition owns Bathiudeen and can’t stick him to the government | Daily News


The Opposition owns Bathiudeen and can’t stick him to the government

Opposition Leader  Sajith Premadasa -ACMC Leader  Rishad Bathiudeen
Opposition Leader Sajith Premadasa -ACMC Leader Rishad Bathiudeen

The Opposition has wanted to stick former Minister Rishard Bathiudeen to the government with super glue, but that effort became spectacularly unstuck last week.

The Opposition SJB is trying to jump out of its anti-national skin in an attempt to make itself pseudo-nationalist, and this has led to much hilarity in the past few months after the August 5th election. The sleight of hand is in keeping with the willy-nilly steamroller style that was in evidence when the SJB was then in power its previous incarnation as the UNP.

Bathiudeen or his brother cannot be imprisoned on a mere supposition that these people were in cahoots with terrorists. Bathiudeen in any case is and was their man.

While the leadership of the current government jettisoned Rishard Bathiudeen long ago, the SJB had him as their electoral partner at the August election as well.

He graced their stage on more than one occasion. He was a part and parcel of the alliance of forces that the SJB sported for the polls.

‘The Samagi Jana Balawegaya (SJB) leader will be allowed to choose the party’s national list representatives, allied parties said on Tuesday’, stated a News First web article on 11th August.

The piece went on:

“We have asked Sajith Premadasa to make a decision and that we will agree with him,” Rishad Bathiudeen, leader of the All Ceylon Makkal Congress said.

Bathiudeen is and has been SJB folks’Comrade-in-Arms, but they think their support base sounds authentic raising hackles over the non-event of Bathiudeen joining the government. It’s a non-event, and a never-will-happen event.

Politics may be the art of the possible, but if Bathiudeen is the man that the opposition flaunts as a Comrade, they will have to own him. If they purport that he is anti-national, they will have to own these anti-national proclivities too.

They can’t own him and then try to stick him to the government with super glue when they think it’s convenient.

Let them not offer this much of comic relief. Why do they think the government has any need for Bathiudeen when it has a two-thirds majority in parliament to pass provisions of the 20th Amendment for instance?

The Opposition tactic of lunging at every straw to save itself is not brilliant considering that the people gave a mandate to the governing party. Letting the government govern, and being constructive about it seems to be alien to the SJB types.

They are gung-ho because they got used to an artificial atmosphere of a rigged playing field when they were in power. They were used to bending the rules, what with their appointed IGP saying once upon a time in so many words that the rules could not be broken, but they could be bent.

They haven’t still got rid of the hangover from that era, and they’d better do that soon. They have to get it into their systems that police work is not the purview of the President.

Besides, if the SJB is of the view that that Bathiudeen or his brother should be prosecuted, they should be the parties making the complaints to the police. They can’t, because he is and has been their Comrade-in-Arms.

So all this noise being made about the government veering towards the anti-national camp sounds a gigantic own goal by the SJB and its support base. They are admitting that they are harbouring an anti national element within their primary political machinery.

It’s not a good position to be in, particularly when they are bending over backward to portray the government as being anti-national and having a soft spot for Muslim extremist elements!

Each time they paint themselves into a corner in this way, they are exposing the political brittleness of their operation. They can’t be all things to all men all the time — and simultaneously crown themselves the champion nationalists around.

The SJB leader cannot stop trying to copy the SLPP leadership, especially the charismatic Mahinda Rajapaksa. Premadasa first pretended that there were thousands to meet and greet him after he lost the presidential election, the way there were thousands to meet and greet PM Rajapaksa after the presidential election in 2015.

Now, he has taken to copying the nationalist image of the SLPP but nobody is buying it, especially with the kind of allies he has in his political movement. The gentleman has no political location whatsoever, and his politics is essentially targeted to the lumpen element of society.

Be that as it may, it seems that the SJB is trying some sort of inorganic nationalism, by attempting to whip up various scares such as the Bathiudeen bogey.

Premadasa is trying to revive the temperance reputation of the UNP because he has to latch onto something. Not that there is any temperance in the SJB, which essentially has a lumpen base. But it’s not the temperance that Premadasa is after, but the vague nationalist image that he associates with the early UNP.

After all, the founder of the UNP the late DS Senanayake began his politics as an amadyapa or temperance activist. He was arrested by the British for trying to foment trouble through the amadyapa movement, as the colonial rulers characterized early temperance activism in that era.

The movement had some early success, when DS and FR Senanayake managed to get all taverns in Halpitigam Korale shut by holding a referendum within the Korale borders on the tavern issue, as the British challenged them to do.

But those were the nascent roots of the independence movement, and though he wore top hat and tailcoat, DS Senanayake’s fealty to the independence cause was genuine, and to this extent his nationalism was organic.

Sajith Premadsa by contrast wants to dream of that era, but steal Mahinda Rajapaksa’s nationalist clothes and run away with them.

It has made him and his party look utterly comic. To this extent at least, Mangala Samaraweera has a point.

The SJB is now a mere pseudo-nationalist clone of the SLPP, and even though the SLPP has authentic, organic nationalist support, the SJB has just affixed a Sinhala Buddhist name board onto its frontage.

Premadasa’s other failure is that anything he does is over the top. During the elections, he tried to look presidential by acting as if he is already president, with regular speeches ‘addressing the nation.’ His wife overdid him, by acting the goat in her imaginary future First Lady role.

So, a series of tragi-comedies does not a movement make. He acts as if his Sinhala Buddhist nationalism is something he can put on and take off like some safari suit top. When it suits him, he is a Sinhala nationalist. When it is nightfall, he transforms into the Shakespeare quoting ham actor. It’s unintended burlesque, and in serious politics, it just won’t do.

His support base is hilarious, trying to read what’s not there into a photograph of Chamal Rajapaksa greeting Rishard Bathiudeen. They have tried this before and everyone remembers how they vilified the SLPP as anti-national just because Karuna Amman was an ally.

But the people know who Sambandan is in cahoots with, and how they come to Court together on anti-government issues.

He’s not trying to disown Sambandan’s politics either, and he can’t because that’s half his voter base.

He and those such as Eran Wickremaratne are trying to ram this confused and utterly mixed up brand of politics down people’s throats, but they don’t even know as a new party how they should take baby steps.

Totally out of depth, the party resembles a drowning man clutching at straws, and Bathiudeen seems to be the latest straw in the mire that they are sinking onto. It’s a miserable failure — the more they do it, the more people are reminded of the fact that along with Bathiudeen in their Cabinet, they laid waste to the country, and jeopardized our security for the five years they ruled.