A happy beginning
Well begun is half done, says an old adage. The
inaugural meeting of the 14th Parliament Tuesday ended on a
happy note. There was complete unanimity on the choice of the
Speaker. This was in stark contrast to what happened following
the General Election 2004. It was one of bitter contest and
acrimony. The Speaker was then elected with a majority of one.
To the credit of the Speaker thus elected then it should be
said that he maintained the dignity and decorum of the House and
always acted as a unifying force even after tense debates or
The same spirit of unity prevailed in the election of the
Deputy Speaker and the Deputy Chairman of Committees.
This augurs well for both the Government and the Opposition.
The people had given a clear mandate. They have not left any
room for ambiguity. Their allegiance is clear. It is to the UPFA
However, the latter has been denied the magical two-thirds
majority though they are within an inch’s reach. This has given
the Opposition a choice. They could provide the Government the
balance votes to reach the two-thirds.
It is gratifying to note that the Opposition has got the
people’s message. The voters compelled the Opposition to
cooperate with the Government. Experience of last Parliament
shows that it was a wise decision rather than letting individual
MPs to decide.
It is time for both parties to develop this cooperation on
all fundamental issues affecting the people and the country. In
the same spirit they could unite and put forward a new electoral
law reform at the earliest. The two major parties in Parliament
have both suffered from the intra-party rivalry generated by the
preferential system, the drawbacks of which are now legion.
There is also no need for them to fight over developmental
issues as both acknowledge the need for rapid economic take off.
This is not to exclude rational debate and constructive
criticism. They are as valid as ever before. What should be
excluded are acrimonious name calling and mud slinging.
The rehabilitation and resettlement of the remaining IDPs and
the development of the livelihoods of the people in the war zone
is another area in which the entire Parliament could unite. Such
unity would be a moral incentive for reconciliation of estranged
communities. It could also lay the basis for working out a
consensual package of proposals to solve the National Question.
In fact, the Government has repeatedly asked for cooperation
from the Opposition on this matter.
For various reasons, such unity was lacking in the past.
However, in today’s changed circumstances there is an
opportunity to forge such unity. What is necessary is to think
anew and work anew without carrying over age-old dogmas that all
sides adhered to.
The ITAK with its 13 members could play a vital role in this
matter. No longer fettered by invisible chains woven by the LTTE
they could represent the actual aspirations of their people and
cooperate with the Government in finding a workable solution.
The very first day of Parliament had been propitious for the
Government on account of other developments too. The NUW led by
V Digambaram MP has decided to leave the UNF and support the
Government. There was also talk of the DPF splitting from the
The rapidly evolving developments would certainly give the
Parliamentarians a clear message to deliver without
Test of endurance
Voters are funny people. They have sent home several
politicos who aspired to enter Parliament. Ungrateful citizens,
the vanquished heroes would say, for every one of them cannot
understand why the hoi-polloi could not understand the colossal
service they have done the blokes.
Those that have been thrown out of the Cabinet are also in
similar state of distress. Pity the poor souls!
Now they must learn the art of simply staying afloat, for
trying to swim with a heavy load of sorrow (or guilt?) could
drown them sooner or later. As every good swimmer in distress
knows the best hope is to stay afloat till some Good Samaritan
comes to the rescue. So gentlemen, stop wailing, stay afloat,
and keep up hope. Amen!