Tissa we love you please come back to us! Yes?
Or is it, I am Tissa remember me? Please take me back!
The former General Secretary of the United National Party (UNP), yes, the one who crossed over to the Sri Lanka Freedom Party, says now that he regrets his decision to leave the UNP. These things happen. Does it mean that he will return whatever inducement he received to crossover, or does this prove that he came free of charge, therefore he can go, or is it, I need more to remain with you?
At first, these things seem hard to fathom. Circumstantial information may not enable proof of causality. Let’s imagine that I swing from one company to its chief competitor, and after a few months I travel out of the country where a former mover and shaker, (shaker of the money tree?) for a proscribed group resided then I come back and state to the media that I regret I changed my company. So did I go and stash the loot I got for swinging and then come back for more or is it simply something else? Is it somewhat like I needed a time out and went away, but regretted my swing independently of my recent visit and found time to make my regret of changing employer or allegiance known?
Well, maybe the UNP should welcome him in the spirit of conciliation and welcome him back as a prodigal returned. After all the leaving was only for a scant few weeks, that is, if he is welcomed back with open arms and much fanfare. Will it be so? What did he leave for, anyway? Will there be a slaughter of a fattened calf in a manner of speaking?
He is entitled to review his decision, change it if possible. Does he want to come back to the UNP to be included in a future cabinet? All this is possible.
Will the UNP take him in with open arms and announce its open door policy, go, return, sit in any government for awhile, come back, we welcome you, we are happy you came back, please stay, or even go again, whatever?
If we wait, time will reveal whatever can be revealed. Maybe the UNP will take him with open arms, maybe it won’t. Can he remain in the SLFP? Maybe he has doubts that the SLFP will keep him, include him in the roster of contestants in the next parliamentary elections, or will not put him on the “national list” that may be reserved for the likes of the good professor. Hedging is prudent sometimes.
This matter like other swinging affairs requires some examination. In the case of political partys, their constitutions and conventions should be well known to their members supporters and well wishes and would be swingers. This is good practice. People should know well that the representatives that they select might not be bound to remain in the party they were when they were elected.
When the citizen votes for a political party, and a slate of candidates within the party, how do they express their preferences for individuals and hope that the institutions maintain their choice of candidate? How important is the notion of “my representative”, the individual or my representative over the political party that would assign someone to serve me? Customer service is not unimportant and private enterprises try to tailor their services to suit customer needs by assigning or designating specific individuals to customers.
In politics what seems to be desirable for the citizen is clarity and information about the representation. Political parties in their organization and arrangements tend to blur these distinctions of specificity or representative to their advantage. Party first, individual representative later. There are some advantages to maintain this arrangement. If a representative goes to the dark side or even darker side or becomes a rogue the party may wish to slide him off despite the satisfaction of the electorate; the representative may not practice his roguery on his electorate but elsewhere.
The question seems to be what is the bargain that the citizen makes with the party that supplies the representative? What quality control, discipline, policy framework and support will the representative get and what guarantees will the party provide to the citizen regarding the integrity of the service the representative provides? If a representative brings to a political party his representational base and adds it to that of the party then maybe he can be a swinger as well. But at some point the political party should, must be accountable for the representative and the representative should be aware of circumstances when dismissal from the party is possible.
I think the time is here and almost past that political parties at least starting with the two main ones the UNP and the SLFP make a concerted effort to develop their party democracy and maintain good governance in their organizations.
Political parties should file annual reports and file audited financial accounts each year and separately for every election. There are ways to do this and we should start this process. This should be the law and it should be enforced. Corruption has settled itself in this house and the house has to be cleaned, Augean stable or not. We might not need a modern Heracles for this task small people might be able to collectively tend to it of they are assigned to it. But it should be started. Meanwhile swinging will go on.
Will Tissa be joyfully rejoined with the UNP?
Again, time will reveal all.