Sri Lanka is described as the tear drop of India only due to geographical reasons. However, this tiny island has many a time, literally driven the world powers to tears owing to historic and political reasons.
The wounds from having had to face excruciating experiences of authoritarianism and genocide for decades, have not healed even today. It was when the country has been moving ahead on the path of building a new nation over the past few years by gradually recovering from all those factors, that the demons of those worst times possessed President Maithripala Sirisena. With that, everything was shattered. He plunged the nation into the deep abyss of Fascism by dismissing Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe and appointing Mahinda Rajapaksa in his place. When it became evident that the new Prime Minister cannot prove a legislative majority, Sirisena dissolved the Parliament and announced elections in the first week of January. When the political alliance of Wickremesinghe is all set to resist this move which is totally unilateral, both legally and politically, Rajapaksa has entered the arena under a new party banner in order to retain power which he had regained after a hiatus. With the judiciary intervening in the matter, Sri Lanka is once again heading towards political uncertainty.
After shifting allegiance from Sri Lanka Freedom Party (SLFP) 4 years ago, Sirisena became the president of the country by contesting against Rajapaksa and emerging as a ‘consensus candidate’ with the support of the opposition. Earlier, Sirisena had been a credible person who had adorned the post of a Minister under Rajapaksa. One of the election promises by Sirisena who entered the contests by ditching that friendship, was a ‘welfare state with peace and political stability’. He had been committed to that assurance in the initial days of being in power. After the Parliament elections held in 2015, he succeeded in showcasing a totally transparent rule with the support of Prime Minister Wickremesinghe and his party. It was as part of that that several antiquated and totally anti-human laws were amended. The 19th Constitutional amendment was one such. The crux of this amendment is that an elected Parliament cannot be dissolved before four and half years or without the support of two out of three members in the house. World countries took this amendment as due diligence to stop turning the Parliament into a stooge of any autocrat. However, it has to said that it was Sirisena himself who lost that vigilance first. The Parliament which was elected in August 2015 cannot be suspended using this law. This move also lacks the support of even half of the Parliament. How else can this move be described other than Fascism?
It is pertinent to wonder what the motive of Sirisena, whom the Lankan people had voted to power as an exponent of peace, would be behind this deviation. His explanation that such a step was taken in order to avert a clash of members in the house, is not entirely plausible. At the same time, the observation of some political commentators cannot be easily dismissed, i.e. it was the big surge of SLFP in the recent local elections that endeared Sirisena to Rajapaksa. This overthrow came when the government has been conducting serious enquiry about the excesses and coruption during Rajapaksa era. In other words, one has to assume that the sole driver for his move is the agenda of hanging on to power at any cost. As for Rajapaksa, he is gearing up for a political game by quitting SLFP (which his father DA Rajapaksa and others had formed in 1951) and by joining the Sri Lanka People's Front (SLPP) formerd two years ago by his admirers. Rajapaksa told the media the other day that he will sweep Sri Lanka in the elections to be held in January. And he has begun his preparations for that, even under the frowning eyes of world powers. Afterall, Rajapaksa is a man whom the world has assessed as a perfect autocrat.
What Sirisena has done through this overthrow is a historic blunder of putting such a man back on his own track to power. News emerging from Colombo do give some clear indications about the future of that country. Take a look at the the protest demonstrations held in the capital on the days following the dissolution of parliament. Each of the rally was sharing with the world the message of concern that with the country coming into the hands of Rajapaksa, those black days will make a comeback. They reasonably believe that all the cases against human rights violations made during Rajapaksa's era, will be buried. Many of Rajapaksa's close relatives, including his brother, are facing trials in several cases - which the world may have little chance to see. It will be a Herculean task for the Lankan people to get past this political complexity. Even if there is a surprise judicial intervention by annulling the dissolution of parliament, that will be only a temporary reprieve. For, this 'shadow politics' of state terrrorism, based on racism, is still haunting that country. Which also makes a lasting democratic order in Sri Lanka just a mirage.