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Asian Tribune is published by E-LANKA MEDIA(PVT)Ltd. Vol. 20 No. 78

The Rebirth of the UPFA

[b]The Rebirth of the UPFA[/b]

By Tisaranee Gunasekara

[b]“Column by column in a cloud of dust
They marched away enduring a belief
Whose logic brought them, somewhere else, to grief.”[/b]
[b][i]Auden[/i][/b] ([i]The Shield of Achilles[/i])

. The UPFA is born again. This is evident in the recent agreement between the Prime Minister and the JVP. According to media reports Mr. Rajapakse will contest under the UPFA symbol, and as the candidate of the UPFA.

So it is small wonder that the President is angry. The Rajapakse-JVP accord amounts to a clear departure from her line and the definitive defeat of that line. The way things are now she will leave the political stage not in a cloud of glory but as a vanquished leader with a tarnished legacy which is rejected by her own party.

The P-TOMS has not been lucky for the President since her commitment to that controversial accord with the Tigers brought her nothing but a string of defeats: her government lost the majority in parliament; the P-TOMS itself was emasculated by the Supreme Court; she lost her attempt to stay on as President till 2006; she was compelled to appoint her PM as her successor; and she finally could not prevent her party from re-entering into an alliance with the JVP, more or less on the latter’s terms. She has lost the gamble.

When Chandrika Bandaranaike Kumaratunga is angry she has a tendency to lash out in all directions, caring little for the consequences. And right now it looks as if she is going to take on her own party and its Presidential candidate. According to media reports she has accused the PM, in writing, of violating the SLFP constitution by entering into an agreement with the JVP; and she had demanded explanation for his conduct. As the past experience shows the lady is a doughty fighter and is likely to fire more salvos during her American sojourn. Since the Mahinda vs. Ranil contest is such an uninspiring one, more attention is likely to be drawn to the Mahinda vs. Chandrika battle.

What is becoming increasingly clear is that the SLFP is slowly slipping out of the President’s control. The SLFP wants to win this election, and it knows that without an alliance with the JVP victory is impossible. Against this inescapable truth even the President’s towering ‘off with their heads’ rages may not prevail. She can order, she can forbid, but it remains to be seen how many of those decrees and fatwas will be heeded. Even in 2003 she was unable to prevent her party men from taking part in the JVP’s march from Kandy to Colombo, and later from Matara to Colombo. She forbade and found that no one was paying attention and had to take rescind her ban. Whether it will be a repeat performance this time remains to be seen (it is better not to underestimate the lady; she had time and again confounded her enemies and proven wrong those who predicted her political demise)

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