SLFP ethos betrayed | Sunday Observer

SLFP ethos betrayed

The statue of slain Prime Minister S.W.R.D. Bandaranaike on Galle Face Green must be feeling lonely, betrayed and left-behind. His was the statue that was erected outside the old Parliament lawn, signifying true freedom, unlike those of many national leaders, from colonial precursors to his contemporaries in the first Parliament of Independent Ceylon, all nudging for space. Standing splendidly a tangent above the long and straight stretch of Galle Road, Bandaranaike’s view dominated the lush Galle Face Green and embraced the infinite blue horizon, while his half-raised open arms reassuringly welcomed the world with confidence as his once blood-stained torso was silently consoled in the breeze.

That was then.

Today, condemned to remain a squatter in a land owned by the country that once built a gigantic convention hall in his name, Bandaranaike’s open-armed gesture laments him being rendered a miniature at the feet of a towering foreign-held hotel.

The blue ocean is being swallowed up to become a foreign-held city. As he still looks on with such profound and placid indifference in his reduced self, he may still not find inner solace.

Like a ferocious serpent whose tail devoured its head, the political movement that he set in motion to free Sri Lanka from shackles, with hopes as pure as the blue sky, is now being swallowed whole by a vicious clan of deceitful mercenaries clad in the colour of that fateful blood stain.

Hands off policy of the President

Last week, when Sri Lanka Freedom Party (SLFP) pledged its support to the Presidential candidate fielded by Sri Lanka Podujana Peramuna (SLPP), it happened with a great deal of fanfare. But the contents of the agreement remained highly secretive, withheld from the party membership on both sides.

It was a clear enough sign that neither party wanted transparency. At least, the Chairman of the party President Maithripala Sirisena chose to keep a distance by appointing an election time chair to the party. Perhaps he has felt the pricking of conscience that he cannot lend his party’s support to elect the very forces that he ousted with the support of 6.2 million well-meaning citizens of Sri Lanka.

On the other hand, at the exit point of a Presidency that was largely consumed with staging an anti-Ranil Wickremesinghe resistance, the President cannot stand hand in hand with a UNP Presidential candidate, with Wickremesinghe poised to retain the premiership even post-election. Under the terms of the 19th Amendment to the Constitution, a Prime Minister cannot be removed at Presidential whim any longer.

End of SLFP ethos

The Sri Lanka Freedom Party was the largest party in Sri Lanka’s left-of-centre politics. The SLFP stood for welfare, reforms and a fair amount of nationalism. Today, as the SLPP consumes the SLFP, it would be difficult for it to guide the policy of the SLPP, which dominates the largest vote block of nearly 37%.

The SLFP will now find itself a log in the river full of SLPP waters. SLFP was once the party that united the scattered Leftist parties to form a broad coalition against the UNP. Such coalitions defeated UNP-led campaigns in 1956, 1960, 1970, 1994, and 2005. However, the party’s golden days are now spent. In the event the SLPP emerges victorious in the November 2019 presidential election, the SLFP will find itself an identity spanning over 60 years, absorbed completely into the SLPP monolith.