Lucien Rajakarunanayake, in Island, 11 July 2020, where the title is “Playing Cricket against rogues in politics”
“I am Tamil, Sinhalese, Muslim and Burgher. I am a Buddhist, a Hindu, a follower of Islam and Christianity. I am today, and always, proudly Sri Lankan” – Kumar Sangakkara
The Elections Commissioner has said the Vote is your right, your voice, your power and your future. How can the voters show their real power through the ballot? The answer today comes from the game of Cricket.
As the election campaign moves on with just three weeks ahead for the poll, there are not many signs of policies and plans of action by the so-called rival political parties. The rivalries are not in the core of politics and governance, not in the economics of living, or in service to the people. It is the rivalry of names – Rajapaksa fraternity, the Premadasa family – from father to son, the Wickremesinghe hangover of repeated defeats, and the names and initials of other alliances. This is hardly the stuff of politics for service to the country and the people.Amidst all this confusion and indecision one sees the rise of Cricket with a new political role and capacity. The names of our cricketers who have brought glory to the country, as both winners or losers in this gentlemanly game, are now drawn to the public mind, much more than the names of the political crooks, culprits and swindlers who are trying to beat the limits imposed by Covid-19 in their political banditry.
It is Mahindananda Aluthgamage – of the SLPP or Podujana Peramuna – who brought this rise of Cricket to the field of electoral politics, with his boastful talk about how the Cricket World Cup in 2011, was crookedly gifted to India, when he was himself the Minister of Sports! We have seen a Police search about this reported felony in sports, with much more interest than the claim by Karuna Amman of killing thousands of Sri Lankan troops.
Karuna Amman will move into the background of the political stage, despite the loud demands of some yellow robes and cheaper actors in the electoral drama of today. But the images and voices of the cricketers – especially Kumar Sangakkara and Mahela Jayawardene- have come to the fore of the new political stage in search of truth and reality, against falsehood and fabrication. The Police brought in Aravinda de Silva, Kumar Sangakkara and Upul Tharanga for questioning, and also called Mahela Jayawardene, though not questioned, in the hunt for the truth behind Aluthgamage’s claim.
With public protests taking place against what was seen as the harassment of cricketers who have brought deserved glory to Sri Lanka in the world of sports, the Police wrapped up their exercise in folly, admitting there was no evidence of match fixing revealed.
Mahindananda Aluthgamage maintains he was correct – and also raises questions about the police search for the truth. That is his own way of trying to fool the people with the stuff of crooked politics. There is now a rising call for the entry of Cricket into the electoral politics of today, which could well pave the way to a true search for progress in leadership and governance in the country.
The bowlers, batsmen and fielders and game watchers will be the voters in the coming election. It will be a National Team of cricketers, playing against the political teams of the crooked. It is a match we have waited for a very long time, especially after the 2/3rd majority of JRJ in 1977, when the politics of decency gave way to that of the masterly crooked. It is not surprising that the search for a 2/3rd majority is the echo of ‘podujana politics’ in this campaign.
Whatever the Elections Commission may think of the game that is lined up, the best play will and must be in the Kandy District, because it is home of both Mahindananda Aluthgamage and Kumar Sangakkara. The voters there, who have any hope of getting back to decent politics and some good governance, and the majority Kandy voters must be thinking on those lines today, should vote against Aluthgamage, to ensure that he and those with such leanings to the crooked have no place in parliament. They should also vote against those who lost last time and crept into parliament from the backdoor of shame.
When the voters go to their polling stations in Kandy to cast their votes, amidst all the anti-Covid precautions, they must take delight in making sure the winner is Sangakkara, who is not running for election, but stands out as the Voice of Gentlemanly Sports.
The cricketing public in their millions have a major role to play in this election. They must remember all the services that Dr. N. M. Perera gave to the rise of the game, until Gamini Dissanayake took us to Test Player status. They must vote to show the country the political trickery and the dirty player teams that are running both politics and governance today; and help open the way to the decent people who are not likely to be in the electoral lists of any major political parties today.
The call for the defeat of World Cup seller politics, is a cry to bring some levels of decency to our electoral politics and the substance of governance in the country. As much as the true cricket lovers play the game and defeat the Aluthgamage play in Kandy, the cricket fans in all other districts, especially in the South and West, have a similar task in the coming weeks. With walk-and-talk politics having a major role today, members of Cricket Civil Societies should take to the field, and expose the crooked politicos who have been ruining our democracy for more than four decades, as members of the major political parties, and planning to bring their children and families to even more corrupt politics in the coming decades.
Every voter must have in mind how clearly and firmly both Kumar Sangakkara and Mahela Jayawardene spoke against the planned Homagama Rajapaksa Cricket Stadium, said to cost so many millions, when the real need was to invest in the good development of school cricket. It is just one example of the huge wasteful expenditure that is part of governance today, in a system of the crooked at play. If Aluthgamage, and his backers, especially those in the organizational structure of Sri Lanka Cricket, thought they were getting a big score with the World Cup sold cry, the cricketing voters can give all of them the best lesson the country has been waiting for in decades of corrupt politics.
Let’s bring cricket back to the glory it deserves, bring true joy back to sports, and move away from the politics of the corrupt, dishonest and untrustworthy. The batsmen, bowlers and fielders in the National Team of the Clean, must take to the grounds for a Glorious Victory, and help push the corrupt – from whatever party or team they come, into the dustbins of history.
Cricket is the Game of the Clean; let our politics be brought as close to it as possible.
“There are no fears out there. There is nothing we cannot handle. It is just how we prepare ourselves mentaly and physically.” – Mahela Jayawardene