It would be prudent to listen to the speech made in parliament yesterday by petroleum and power minister Kanchana Wijesekara.
Kanchana strongly criticized the burden of the oversized public sector on one hand, and the arbitrary conduct of the similarly powerful trade unions, while also taking a swipe at the opposition that has given into both their ideals.
A 75-year curse, unsuccessful political projects and the usual talk about waste and corruption are not valid any longer because such talk will not resolve issues. On the other hand, all people’s representatives in both the government and the opposition are to be blamed for that. All of them have more or less contributed to that through their roles in state administration.
In contrast, a situation has arisen to mark a positive refutation with regard to the Sri Lankan people. Had all those politicians destroyed the country in the past 75 years, it should not be forgotten that they had done that in accord with the people. It was through their vote that all the governments came to power.
Also important in his speech was Kanchana’s steadfast stand that he would not backtrack on the decisions he had taken. His admission of not seeing in Ranil what Gotabaya had done when he reversed on his decisions could be a hint that he is a dictator, but it should not be forgotten that this very same group ridiculed Gotabaya as a ‘gazette reverse.’
Kanchana stresses the need to firmly adhere to the decisions taken in this difficult time. On one hand, it rejects the wish of the opposing parties for an interim reconciliation. On the other hand, it strengthens the proponents. For those who are undecided between remaining weakened and headstrong politics, it supports them to choose either of the opposing sides.
In whatever situation, finding fault with the past cannot help any revival. Though we like it or not, there is no other alternative but to take the path recommended to us by the IMF. The so-called alternatives are not only obsessions, but are bound together with regressive prejudices as well.
Kanchana’s intervention also points to a tendency of the SLPP to deviate from the Rajapaksas. That is the most important thing. Instead of the Rajapaksas’ typical dress, he has chosen the western attire, which shows his inclination towards Ranil Wickremesinghe. It also marks a shift from the regressive Sri Lankan thinking of the Rajapaksas. Kanchana surpasses the political perimeter of a person like Namal Rajapaksa, which indicates an involvement of youth in politics.
This is where Kanchana becomes more progressive than a person like G.L. Peiris. As G.L. fades away from the world of the Rajapaksas which did not suit his upbringing or education, Kanchana has been able to grow up as an outsider.
If the SLPP plans its future politics within the confines of its old model, it is ironic that Kanchana has marked his place with Ranil. It will be a worthwhile drama to watch how Sagala Ratnayaka or Ruwan Wijewardena face the situation.