CENTRE for POLICY ANALYSIS

CENTRE for POLICY ANALYSIS

“Social progress can be measured by the social position of the female sex” - Karl Marx

OPINION


Ensuring Strident Voice Will Not Become Majority Voice


The past weekend saw a meeting between 120 members of district inter religious groups from Mannar in the Northern province, Puttalam in the Northwestern province and Nuwara Eliya in the Central province.  Although diverse in region, ethnicity and religion, these community leaders demonstrated a high degree of goodwill in engaging with each other in private and group dialogue.  Their meeting and their dialogue was a reassuring sign that that the vast majority of people in the country, whether Sinhala, Tamil or Muslim, and whether Buddhist, Hindu or Christian, share a common desire to live in peace and harmony with each other.  The overall warmth of the interaction, and their hope that their future engagement would be constructive, contrasts with the rhetoric of political leaders that threatens to sunder the peace in the days to come.  

There is once again a mass mobilization taking place that compares with the mass mobilization that took place two years ago, hardly a year after the change of government had taken place in January 2015. Before the year was out, those who had lost power due to their electoral defeat launched a tremendous mass mobilization effort to resist and defeat the new government.  They utilized the resources they had generated during the previous decade when it was they who were at the helm of the country's affairs and began to organize long marches and organized mass rallies.  Without giving the new government the time to settle in, they demanded that the government should step down to make way for them to return to power in a short time.  Today in a return to that turbulent past, the Joint Opposition is planning another mass mobilization effort.

The mass mobilization efforts of the opposition political parties that took place two years ago did not bring down the government.  The government had not only won a five year mandate to govern the country according to the constitution, they also had the powers of the presidency as well as a 2/3 majority in parliament.  However, the opposition protests had another outcome and probably the intended outcome.  They deterred the government from delivering on the more controversial of its election-time promises.  These included taking action against those charged with corruption, in pursuing those accused of violating human rights and securing a constitutional settlement of the ethnic conflict.  The government appointed commissions of inquiry into allegations of large scale corruption, expedited the police investigation into human rights and started a constitutional reform process.  But the results so far are desultory giving rise to a popular perception that the government is not a strong or effective one.  

LIKELY POSTPONEMENT    

The timing of the Joint Opposition rally in Colombo is significant.  It comes shortly after the entire opposition in parliament failed to vote on the provincial council electoral commission report on the delimitation of constituencies.  The rejection of this report has meant that the provincial council elections will necessarily be postponed.   Provincial council elections are currently overdue in three provinces and will shortly fall due in another three provincial councils.  If the Joint Opposition was indeed concerned about having provincial elections soon they would not have abstained from the vote when the matter was taken up in parliament. It is reported that among the main issues to be raised at the mass rally that is to take place shortly is the postponement of provincial elections and the demand for early national elections.    

 However the Joint Opposition's failure to vote in parliament on the issues of the delimitation report suggests that having early elections is not the real goal of the opposition parties.  The opposition is reported to be facing their own problems with regard to elections.  They have yet to decide on who would be their presidential candidate.  The attempt to resurrect former president Mahinda Rajapaksa's candidacy, when he has already been elected twice and the 19th Amendment bans a third term, is an indication that the opposition is at the end of is tether on this issue.  In these circumstances it is not likely that the Joint Opposition wishes to force early elections.  It is more likely that two other factors are motivating the opposition to make this effort.     

One would be to deter the government from delivering on its promises made during the period of the last national election campaign more than three years ago.  The speakers whose voices are most likely to be strident at the forthcoming mass rally will be those who talk in terms of threats to the nation and the dangers posed by the ethnic and religious minorities.  It is reported that among the opposition slogans will be to defeat federalism and evoke blessings on the armed forces. Another would be to protest against the alleged persecution of government's opponents by trying them before special courts.  The setting up of the anti-corruption special court, with senior judges at its helm, and with the court mandated to sit continuously till they arrive at a verdict, is likely to be a matter of concern to members of the former government who hold leading positions in the Joint Opposition.   

 POLITICAL BACKLASH    

The second reason for this mass rally would be as an image building exercise and to demonstrate to the voting public that they are a massive force that is destined to win the next set of national elections.  The Joint Opposition intends its present political advantage over the government to be preserved.  They scored victory over the government parties at the local government elections held earlier this year in February.  It is reported that the each of the 3,475 local council members belonging to the opposition will be expected to bring a busload of people each, which will be a very large number.  Political parties have mastered the method of bussing in vast numbers of people through the sponsorship of travel and meal costs.  The resources for such an initiative will either come from the political parties themselves or from the local business community which is forced to take out insurance policies against a change of government.   

At each and every turn people are willing and eager to criticize the government mainly for its failures to deliver on its election-time promises which accounts for its dismal performance at the local government elections.  However, the memory of the past abuses that took place under the previous government also remain alive. The government continues to retain the appreciation of the people on account of the fact that people of all regions, religions and ethnicities feel there is greater political freedom at the present time.  The challenge for the government is how to prevent those who are extremists and who have strident voices from taking the centre stage and making the majority of people in the country also become extremist like them.  

At the gathering of the community leaders of the three districts of Mannar, Puttalam and Nuwara Eliya, there was evidence of thought and relationships that belie the strident and racist rhetoric of political leaders.  One woman community leader said that gatherings such as the one she was attending with participants from different regions, ethnicities and religions had provided a platform for her to see what is not seen, to hear what is not heard and to learn what is not known.  A Buddhist monk spoke of the Maha Gosinga Sutta where deep in the forest the Buddha urged his disciples to see the beauty of human diversity and coexistence that dwelt within that forest and not only the natural beauty of the forest environment.  There is depth and wisdom in Sri Lankan society that is enabling it to transcend thirty years of war at the present time and can also transcend the political storms that are about to descend upon the country.  The government needs to deliver on its election-time promises having confidence in the people and not hold back for fear of the political backlash.  

 

OPINION

  • River in a 'Court of Law' - Legal issues pertaining to its personality
  • Syria: A Testament To International Moral Bankruptcy
  • When the State Sought to Muzzle Privacy, U-Turn Now Only to Accommodate SC Verdict
  • The Bull in A China Shop Wrecks Indian Economy
  • When Buddha Looks The Other Way: The Plight Of The Rohingya
  • A Fatal Blow to The Judiciary
  • The Dramatic Rise in Wealth Inequality
  • Wild And Baseless Speculations of Crisis in the CPI(M)
  • Budget 2018: Fantabulous Schemes With Not A Paisa Earmarked
  • Kasganj: Sankalp Foundation and the Politics of Hate
  • PM Modi Sounds the Election Bugle: Congress and Hindutva the Agenda for 2019 Polls
  • The US Game Plan in Syria
  • Both Nehru and Patel Were the Need of the Hour in 1947-48
  • The Battle of the Two Begums of Bangladesh
  • Why Bangladesh Matters
  • Kejriwal's Apology is Not What the Media Claims
  • Arrest of a '5-minute Dalits' Proves Why SC/ST Act Dilution Will Grossly Impact Real Dalits
  • The Dalits and the Law
  • Winners May Be Losers In Karnataka's Catch 22 Endgame
  • Jinnah and the BJP
  • Jawaharlal Nehru (Nov 14 1889- May 27, 1964): We Still Live In A House That Nehru Built
  • Implications of Trump-Kim Summit: Nuclear Pays!
  • Thomas Reuters Foundation Survey: Measuring Safety, Generating Outrage
  • ROADMAP TO A CEASEFIRE: AFGN - PAK
  • What Are People Voting for?
  • Foreign Policy: A Double Whammy Awaits India
  • Changing Discourse
  • Assam: The Mythology of "Immigrants"
  • Imran Time is Here
  • 71 Years on, Forsty Relations Countinue
  • To Stop Climate Change, We Need to Open Bordera
  • Make Use of Bid to Postpone Provincial Elections
  • Cringing and Fuddled at 71
  • Ensuring Strident Voice Will Not Become Majority Voice
  • Nehru, Vajpayee and Modi
  • Religious Bias Okayed
  • The Oslo Accords: A Bloody Legacy of Betrayal
  • Crushing the Campus
  • Three Stories And Task of The Office Of Missing Person
  • Drama Over Indo-Pak Meeting
  • An ill Wind
  • Symbolic Actions Alone Are Insufficient For Long Term Change To Occur
  • If Democracy Subverts Itself
  • Returning Land to Civilians is a Promise That Needs Follow Up
  • Democracy In Crisis: What we Know and What we Don't
  • Reparations Office Can Bind The Nations Together
  • Implementation Challenges Facing The Ayushman Bharat Program
  • Subverting the Central Bank
  • Under the Yoke of New-Imperialism: A Fake War of Patriotism and Treason
  • India Joins the Club
  • The Third Phase
  • President is Best Situated to Resolve Political Crisis
  • No Country for Adventure: Challenges Extreme Sports Athletes Face in India
  • Setting A Perilous Political Precedent
  • What Rahul and Modi can do in the Next Four Months
  • Finding a Win-Win Solution to Break the Deadlock
  • Temple in the Age of Colliders
  • Four Parameters of a Political Solution at This Time
  • Resolve National Question With President's Support
  • Decapitating the Leadership
  • Four Takeaways From the 2018 Election
  • Science of Words
  • The Ace up Modi's Sleeve
  • The Government Must Not Deny The TNA
  • The Prolonged Wait For Justice And For Political Leadership
  • Endgame in Afghanistan
  • Pluralist Ethos is More Relevant to National Identity
  • A Concerned Citizen's Points For Inclusion in The Manifesto of Political Parties
  • In My Own Voice: Circle of Unreason
  • RBI To The Rescue of Modi Government - It's Election Time!
  • Say No to War
  • A terrifying Fallout
  • The Type of Leadership The Country Needs
  • Death Wish as Nationalism
  • Politics on Kashmir Need Not be About Optics Alone
  • Why an Urban Job Guarantee Scheme is Not a Bad Idea
  • National Security: The New in 'New Normal'
  • Re-Promulgating an Ordinance is a Fraud on the Constitution
  • Elections 2019: India at a Crossroads
  • Peace and Inclusive Development
  • NYAY Providing Basic Income Fulfills the Vision of Mahatma Gandhi and Changed Election Narrative Based on Basic Issues
  • Advani Should Blame Himself For Promoting Modi
  • Kashmir: Tracing the Degeneration of Mainstream Politics
  • Elections and the Issue of Civil Liberties
  • Jumlanomics:Chronicles of a Post-Truth Bharat
  • BJP: Hiding Failures, Targeting Nehru
  • A Mayawati Moment
  • Godse is a Synonym of Hindu Nationalism, Agenda of the RSS Combine!
  • Development Beyond Numbers
  • A Rational Approach to Countering Extremist Violence is Needed
  • In My Own Voice: Is This the Sprit of Democracy?
  • Prevention is The Best Migration Cure
  • The Rise of Hate
  • The Right Mantras for India's Change
  • Coming Home - Where Family Overpowers All
  • Easter Sunday Bombing Used to Create a Major Rift in Sri Lankan Society
  • Hacking Humanity
  • Environmental Rule of Law in India
  • Peace is a Word That West Has Taken From Afghans
  • Trump's War Games
  • Modi & States
  • Who is an 'Outsider' in West Bengal?
  • China on Maps
  • 19th Amendment Will Correct Itself at End of President's Current Term
  • Authoritarianism and the Crisis of Public Ethics in India
  • Presidential Candidate The People Want
  • Has India's Kashmir Cape Given Pakistan Reason for War?
  • Icons and Ideology of Religious Nationalism
  • Why NRC in Assam May Create Another Kashmir
  • Campaign to Abolish the Executive Presidency in Sri Lanka is a Red Herring
  • As US Tries to Isolate Iran, China Steps In
  • Of Hindi and Hierarchy
  • Why Sri Lankan Elections May Bring Far Reaching Change
  • What US Policy Tells Us About India's Growing 'Friendship' With It
  • Gandhian Philosophy is a Critique of Modernity and Power
  • Inner Party Democracy is Just as Important as Funding
  • India's Foreign Policy Has Dug Itself a Deep Hole
  • 'Broken Promises' and Politics of Hate': Is Political Autonomy The Way Forward For J&K?
  • The Ninth Betrayal: America Has Let Down Khurd, Yet Again
  • Who Benefits From The WhatsApp Hacking Case?: Pertinent Question Left Unanswered
  • State Elections Results Expose "Limits" of BJP's Nationalist Agenda
  • "Religious Belief" vs. "Rule of Law": Did SC's Ayodhya Verdict Legalise Building of a Theocratic State?
  • What Does Trump's "New Refugee Ban" Mean for America's Immigrants?
  • India Must Change Course as Rajapaksas Return on Sinhala Buddhist Wave
  • The Supreme Court's First Judgment Without an Author
  • Geopolitics in South Asia Renders Millions Stateless
  • "Shakespeare's Vision of the Improbale" Unfolds: Is Modi Today's Macbeth?
  • Sri Lanka Under Rajapaksa: Finding Areas of Mutual Agreement
  • "The Game of Religion is Played by Men": Women Speak From the Margins of Ayodhya Dispute
  • Telangana Ecounter- Failure of Local Police Poses Grave Danger to Democracy
  • The Changing Nature of War and Diplomacy
  • Sri Lanka: Government's Cooperation A "Temporary Phenomenon"?
  • The Role of Corruption in This Season of Revolts
  • New Citizenship Law to a "Brazenly Divisive Agenda"
  • Youth Agitation Against CAA Brings a Historic Generational Shift
  • "Digital Authoritarianism": With Internet Shutdowns Normalised, the Digital Space is Democracy's New Battleground
  • Sri Lanka: The Challenge of Development Amidst Devolution of Power
  • The Political Divides that Split India
  • 'Never Again': Echoes of Nazi Crimes Remain Alive 75 Years After Auschwitz
  • "Legacy of Mutual Suspicion" Plagues Opponents of the Modi Regime
  • "Toxic" India Sliding into an Environmental Abyss
  • Manufacturing Hate: From Anurag Thakur's 'Shoot the Traitors' to Pistol-Bearing Youth's 'Yeh lo Azaadi!'
  • Kejriwal Isn't Communal, But His Desire Not to be Seen Anti-Hindu May Prove Self-Defeating
  • Religion States Won't Oppose US-Taliban Deal
  • Lessons From Pathogens: Coronavirus, A wake Up Call?
  • The Geopolitics of the Covid 19 Pandemic
  • Cold War Begins As Nations Fued Over Coronavirus
  • India Fights Coronavirus...With Scriptures, Morals and Police
  • The Burden of COVID 19
  • Do Israeli Settelemnts in Occupies West Bank Constitute a War Crime ?
  • The Global Debate on COVID-19 Lockdown: Listen to Divergent Scientific Voices or Risk Manipulation by Big Businesses?
  • Sri Lanka's Easter Bombings And The Demand For Justice
  • How India Can Solve the "Catch-22 Situation" of Allowing Migrant Workers to Return Home
  • The Time for Universal Basic Income Has Arrived
  • COVID-19 Crisis Exposes Fatal Weaknesses of 'Strong' Leaders
  • The Pandemic Has Taught Us the Importance of Maintaining an Ecological Balance, Will we Remember IT?
  • The Muslim Elite Has Let Down the Muslim Poor
  • "There is Nothing Nationalist or Non-Nationalist in Reporting"
  • Why WHO Took 3 Months to Declare a Global Pandemic
  • A Political Lockdown That Silences Voices
  • The 'Relief Package' of Online Education May End up "Institutionalising Drop Outs"
  • Can Democracy Survive the Coronavirus?
  • As China Ups the Ante, This is What India Must do...
  • Tackling Racism With Compassionate Reporting-CNN Leads The Way
  • Sri Lanka: Pluralism In Governance Required In The Absence of Parliament
  • Idia's Tactical Non-Solutions To China's Incursions in Ladakh
  • "At The Brink of A New Cold War": Sino-US Ties at a Crossroads
  • In Light of Rising Conservatism, Can The Personal be Political Again?
  • India-China: The Complete Breakdown of Trust, How and Why
  • Rethinking Development After Covid-19
  • The Pandemic Must Transform Our Agriculture
  • Treacherous Road to Make Manu History
  •