There was a wonderful feature in the last presidential election. The National Democratic Front named a Prime Ministerial candidate although it was a presidential election. Presidential candidate Sirisena promised in his manifesto to appoint the UNP leader, Ranil Wickremasinghe as the Prime Minister within twenty four hours of his election. This is illegal and undemocratic. 

In terms of Section 79 of Presidential Election Act No 15 of 1981, promising an office, offering an office or accepting an office in order to secure victory at a presidential election is a bribery offence. Hence, President Sirisena has committed two offences namely, promising an office and offering an office. Prime Minister is guilty for bribery by accepting the office.

In this case, the bribe giver is the first citizen of the country. The bribe recipient is the second citizen. The bribe is the second highest office in the country. Hence, it is no doubt that this is the largest bribery incident recorded in the history of Sri Lanka. We, Pivithuru Hela Urumaya (PHU), complained to the Bribery Commission about this historical bribe. We urged the commission to investigate into the complaint on priority basis considering the VVIPs involved in the case. However, the commission shamelessly displayed its partiality towards the ruling party by ignoring the complaint.

In addition to illegality, it is undemocratic as well because it distorts one mandate given by the people by another mandate. In other words, President’s mandate at the presidential election cannot be used to distort the mandate given to the parliament at the parliamentary election by nominating a prime ministerial candidate. Let me explain it with an example. Colombo Municipal Council (CMC) has been continuously ruling by the UNP since 1958. Although the UPFA had been in power in the Central Government for 21 years, it failed to capture power in the CMC. Hence, President Rajapakse had the opportunity to mention in his manifesto for the presidential election held in 2010 that he would appoint opposition leader of the CMC, Ajantha Liyanage as the mayorif he was elected. He did not do so as it is undemocratic.
The mayor should be appointed based on the results of municipal council election. Similarly, the Prime Minister should be appointed based on the results of parliamentary election. In the light of above, nomination of a prime ministerial candidate for a presidential election is unusual and hilarious. After this undemocratic and illegal joke, President Sirisena now gets ready for another joke. That is avoiding nomination of a prime ministerial candidate for the parliamentary election.

It is important for voters to know their future prime minister before casting their votes. It was not very important at the last parliamentary election held in 2010 because everybody knew that the nation would be led by President Rajapakse irrespective of the person who would be appointed as the prime minister. However, present situation is different due to several reasons.

Although President Sirisena is the de jure head of the government, Prime Minister has been de facto head of the government for the last five months.President Sirisena was not aware of his government’s plan to introduce a federal model until Prime Minister’s announcement in his interview with NDTV television channel on 17th January. President Sirisena admitted at the parliamentary group meeting of the UPFA that the Financial Crime Investigation Division (FCID) of the police department was established without his knowledge. Although he promised to abolish it forthwith, he so far failed to do so. These incidents clearly establish that Prime Minister is the true ruler of the nation.

19th Amendment to the Constitution (19A) has limited presidential powers and increased the powers of the Prime Minister. Hence, Prime Minister has become more powerful not only by practice but also by law. Hence, parliamentary election has turned to be the election for choosing the genuine leader of the nation. Hence, people have a right to know who would be their next leader before the election.

Even before the 19A, there were instances where the Prime Minister became the de facto leader. In 1994, it was obvious that People’s Alliance(PA) would secure victory at the parliamentary election. People felt that the Prime Minister of the PA would be the true leader of the nation despite the presence of President D B Wijetunga of the UNP. Hence, people demanded the PA to nominate its prime ministerial candidate. As a result, the PA was forced to nominate Chandrika Kumaranatunga as the Prime Ministerial candidate in the middle of the election campaign.

In this backdrop, it is essential to nominate a prime ministerial candidate at the forthcoming parliamentary election. The UNP has already nominated present Prime Minister, Ranil Wickremasinghe, as its prime ministerial candidate. He promised to stop construction of Colombo Port City during the presidential election campaign. As he promised, it was stopped soon after the election ignoring the significance of the fact that foundation stone was laid by Chinese President. It was an obvious slap on the Chinese face. As a result, of the irreparable damage caused to Chinese dignity by this action, Chinese aids and direct investments have now been crippled down. Although US State Secretary visited Sri Lanka and complimented the present government with sugary words, he did not pledge a single cent as aids. In fact, the USA is not in a position to spend lavishly because of the economic crisis undergone by it.

The Present government resumed the project of strengthening the separatism and terrorism from where Ranil stopped it in April 2004. It has been discussed in detail in previous columns. He is now implementing his liberal ideology by weakening the State sector and ignoring the local culture. Hence, he has now become the Sri Lankan symbol of pro-west pro-separatist liberalism. Hence, his rival at the parliamentary election must possess opposing characteristics. The prime ministerial candidate of the UPFA must be strongly independent anti-separatist nationalist leader.

No big plants would go under the shade of a huge tree. Similarly, there is no leader in the UPFA with a great personality with those characteristics since they were under the mammoth personality of former President Rajapakse. Hence, the party has no choice but to invite President Rajapakse to come forward as the prime ministerial candidate of the UPFA.

The national security is now in danger beyond any doubt with re-emergence of Tamil separatism. There have been only eight national leaders who have unified Sri Lanka for the last 2,600 years. The first leader to unify Sri Lanka was King Gemunu. Thereafter, Walagamba, Dhathusena, Vijayabahu the Greatest, Parakramabahu the Greatest, Parakramabahu II, Parakramabahu VI unified the nation in the chronological order. After, 1449, there has been only one leader to unify the nation for the last six hundred years. That was President Mahinda Rajapakse. These eight rulers are considered as the giants of the Sri Lankan history considering the task accomplished by them. If the motherland is in danger and the leader who save the motherland is still alive, will there be an alternative to inviting him to take the reign.

Let us assume that you had been suffering with an ailment for 37 long years. A doctor was able to miraculously cure you. After six years, you witness the symptoms of the ailment. Whom will you choose for treatments? Will you choose Dr Chandrika who had been treating you for 11 years without any success? Will you chooseDr Ranil whose treatments made the condition worse instead of making it better? Will you choose Dr Nimal Siripala who has never treated any patient? Alternatively, will you go back to Dr Mahinda Rajapakse who miraculously cured you in the previous occassion? The answer is crystal clear.

Udaya P Gammanpila 07.06.2015