On April 09, Ratey Raala proposed a modified programme for the country through his article “Two proposals to Ranil.”
Ratey Raala believes it to be the minimum that the country backtracks for a programme of national consensus. Beyond that, such a programme cannot exist.
Here, Ranil’s non-political president role remains unchanged. Ratey Raala’s modified proposal is a government of national consensus under him.
The first question here is how we can get there. Ranil and the UNP have a big job to do. But, that does not mean it is their programme. The first step is theirs.
Ranil and the UNP cannot plan that national consensus programme. That cannot, and shouldn’t be allowed. Then, no one can question Ranil by placing the entire burden on him either.
It is not a programme to squeeze Ranil’s hand and demand solutions. The basis is national consensus. It’s a joint attempt.
It is not the UNP’s or Ranil’s. It belongs to the country - to us.
Next comes the question of how to do it. Ratey Raala proposes an independent council of academics. It should, in collaboration with the president, present the programme within a certain timeframe.
Ranil should invite the country to submit proposals to this panel. Then, all parties and people’s organizations can do so.
Although the opposition has not been agreeable to a common programme, the SJB, NPP, 43 Brigade, SLFP, SLC, National Movement for a Just Society and people’s organizations have all presented their own programmes.
So did the groups involved in the Galle Face struggle. All these are now public knowledge and there is no obstacle to their being used. Every time a common programme failed was because the government at the time tried to implement its own while getting those of the others’ only for the sake of doing it.
The best example is the all-party government proposal made to Gotabaya. What the Rajapaksas tried to do was to show a picture of all-parties involvement while carrying on with their family rule.
They were so dishonest that they lured several SLFP MPs from the negotiating table to their side. Talks between Ranil and the SLFP ended in a tragedy.
The main responsibility of this panel of academics will be to create that national consensus without falling to that past level. Due to hostilities among the parties, they might be reluctant to submit proposals in the beginning. The panel should have a solution to that.
Through its action, the panel can change opinions a lot. Then, it can study the programmes already made public and incorporate their positive aspects to its own plans.
Then, these parties and groups cannot oppose downright, because their own proposals are included in the final one. On that basis, talks can begin.
The UNP too, can make proposals. Government affiliates SLPP and other parties as well. Ranil can submit his own.
The main target of the programme should be on economic and political reforms.
For instance, pros and cons of the IMF mechanism and reforms can be identified. So do about the 13th amendment and the executive presidency.
The panel can go forward by incorporating agreements and discussing disagreements. On that basis, short and long term programmes can be planned.
The short term one can extend up to when the presidential election takes place. The long term one can be taken forward by the next government or the next president. That will not be a difficulty as it will have a new mandate.
It is the panel’s and all others’ responsibility not to disrupt it with party politics.
The national consensus programme should have nation building as the basis.
Then, a collective plan of action that is not the UNP’s, SLPP’s, Ranil’s or the opposition’s becomes active.
Towards that, public opinion and trust can be built. People are not at an extremist end any longer. Majority wants a solution. Therefore, the programme can be taken to the people to take firm root.
If needed, Ratey Raala’s Force is ready to do that.
The UNP has a big role to play – to keep continuity and collectivity in this process.
It should have good intentions and a positive mindset. Each party and organization can decide how it will support a government of national consensus. They can either join the government or stay in the opposition while doing so.
This could help end the blame-game on politicians. Whatever has happened in the past, anyone has the right to contribute towards nation building. From then on, anyone can be treated as a nation building contributor.
That could be used as the benchmark to measure the politics of Ranil, Anura, Sajith, Maithri, Patali or anyone else.