‘Minoritarianizing’ voter-mind and other academic slippages
are passionate affairs in Sri Lanka. Given that the ordinary citizen
gets a few weeks to feel like king/queen-maker this is not surprising.
Sometimes, however, people go overboard and there is nothing as
grotesque and ugly as when those who are supposed to be informed, sober
and even dispassionate let their emotions mess with reason.
It is natural to be upset when the candidate or party that one
supported gets defeated. It can even be a tad embarrassing when you’ve
predicted a rousing win for the eventual loser. A loss by a huge margin
when you’ve said it was ‘too close to call’ also makes for blushing. By
and large, people get caught up with their fantasies and invest the
world of propaganda with so much passion that they often start believing
their own lies. I am thinking of all those people who were in the
unenviable position of having to support Sarath Fonseka.
These were people who were quite keen on giving legitimacy even
parity of status vis-a-vis the Government to the LTTE, operating on the
principle ‘my enemy’s enemy is my friend’. That was quintessential ‘self
before country’ (ratata pera mata). In treating Prabhakaran as pal they
had to, therefore, call Mahinda Rajapaksa’s key men in the battle,
Fonseka included, ‘enemy’. They had a lot of pride to swallow in coming
forward to support Fonseka, naturally, and this explains the
argumentative contortionism they demonstrated in the initial stages of
the campaign. I am thinking of people who claiming they are renaissance
creatures, or seek ‘commonality’ by saying they are nobodies or try to
cover up blandness by taking spicy names, and the familiar gang of
ENJOYISTS who talk of human rights, democracy, good governance and what
not even as they beef up terrorism ideologically and otherwise.
Intelligent voters have cast their vote for peace and freedom.
Corruption and nepotism
They couldn’t exactly come out in support of the ex Army Commander,
so they framed it in different terms and tried to give Fonseka’s
campaign a boost by saying ‘it is going to be touch and go’, or, like
the renaissance guy, calling Fonseka a last-straw option and gently
urging people to clutch at him (after trying to make people believe that
the entire nation was about to drown). They must be all quite
disappointed and I don’t blame them. While I am amused by their
contortionism I saw nothing wrong in them supporting Fonseka. They all
had legitimate reasons for preferring Fonseka over Mahinda Rajapaksa;
they’ve been quite open in their objections to the regime and have been
calling for regime-change frequently. Sure, they frilled it all with
allegations of corruption and nepotism and sauced it with epithets such
as ‘hawk’, ‘war-monger’, ‘chauvinist’ etc etc., but the bottom line was
always apparent: they preferred a UNP or UNPish regime and ‘Fonseka’ was
the closest to that particular Utopia they could imagine.
It’s when those who try to give ‘objectivity’ to preference by waving
academic qualification slip up that it all goes beyond ‘amusing’. We had
Jayadeva Uyangoda, widely quoted ‘expert’, ‘analyst’ and ‘political
scientist’, coming up with this amazing sour-loser’s
explanation/prognosis: ‘It is ironic that minorities favoured a military
leader who led the ethnic war’. That’s just the first part.
‘Ethnic war’ is it? Not a struggle against terrorism? And these
minorities, did they ‘reject’ only Mahinda Rajapaksa? It is not as
thought the majority voted for Fonseka. Uyangoda forgets that more than
half the voters opted not to choose either. Why is it that he doesn’t
notice that those who did vote voted against Douglas Devananda, Karuna,
Pilliyan and yes, even the TNA? What happens to the ‘ethnic’ in the
equation when you throw in these salient factors? One can almost here
Uyangoda mumbling soberly, ‘Rajapaksa’s victory is a deep blow to the
minorities, for their hope for change has been rejected; for them the
future is clear - they will be second-class citizens from now on!’
I wonder what would have given Uyangoda an electoral orgasm. Does
nothing excite him this side of the Sinhala voter embracing a ‘change’
defined in Eelamist terms? Does everything this side of Eelam amount to
a rejection of ‘change’ and therefore a condemning of minorities to
‘second class citizenship’? If this is nuanced analysis then I pity the
undergraduates and graduates who are taught and whose research is
supervised by this man.
Then there was Deepika Udugama, another Colombo University Professor.
She’s ‘noted’, we are told, ‘how national apathy and populism have taken
over the electorate after the decades-old war’. Here’s the punch line:
‘The lack of political maturity in Sri Lanka is obvious. The voter
cannot go beyond the rhetoric of the politicians. As long as the
economic needs of the individual are looked after, there is no attempt
by the voters to insist on addressing minority grievances, which is what
should have been seen in this elections by voting for change’.
She could have qualified each little wish in this wish list as being
her personal preference. For example, she could have put it this way:
‘Sri Lankans are not as politically mature as I am. Unlike me, the
rest of the voters cannot go beyond the rhetoric of the politician; I am
smart they are stupid. I am smart and sensitive and I addressed minority
grievances by voting for change because that is what this election was
about; whereas the stupid majority chose to think about their economic
needs. I observe, therefore, that all those who voted for Sarath Fonseka
were concerned only about one thing: addressing minority grievances.’
Had she put it that way she would have appeared honest. Nauseating
and elitist, yes, but still honest. As it is, it’s just nauseating and
elitist. And she has the gumption to say that minorities are now
condemned to suffering Rajapaksa’s paternalism!
Considering Uyangoda’s disappointment and Udugama’s
‘minoritarianization’ of voter-mind, I think I have more respect now for
the renaissance guy, the ‘nobody’ and the coriander-baby.