Rajpal's Column

10th June 2001

The land that was loved by Jagland

By Rajpal Abeynayake

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Mr. Jagland was here. He had apparently done a King Dipendra on Erik Solheim. Well, almost. Solheim had been jettisoned from high level talks.

But, not only was Thorbjorn Jagland ditching Solheim, he was apparently enjoying caviar and Schnapps at the poolside here on Wednesday, when he was contemplating ditching almost everybody around.

He was considering holding talks with three judges of the Supreme Court.

"After all,'' he is supposed to have told his favourite five star hotel manager, "if I can ditch Solheim, I can just as easily decide to ditch Kumaratunga.''

It sounded like the democratic thing to do too. "Even the de-banning of the LTTE is easily achieved through the Supreme Court,'' he had said, commenting that the caviar was better than any he could find in Oslo.

"After all,'' he went onto say, as if he was in love with that new phrase he had picked up from the Sri Lankan minister. "After all, if Vajpayee, our old Hinduthva pal can ditch Kumaratunga and embrace your leader of the opposition, why can't I embrace anyone who seems to be able to solve this crisis.''

The hotel manager, who was passive all this time, and taking in these things as if he was vying for the Nobel prize for peace, said that Ranil Wickremesinghe was doubly qualified as he had not placed his signature on the impeachment motion, before he went for talks with Vajpayee.

At this, Jagland's eyes lit up, and he pronounced that the manager will indeed be recommended for a peace prize. "Everything is falling into place,'' he said. "I am going to negotiate with the judges, and bring peace to this country, and this whole thing shows that even Wickremesinghe will be by my side.''

"Why can't one pillar of the state suddenly become the other pillar,'' Jagland said suddenly, and if the statement was delivered in a gauche manner, it even threw the hotel manager off balance, and he sort of keeled over and asked "Sir?''

"This whole thing,'' he said , "was finally about constitutionalism, wasn't it. President Kumaratunga was trying to change the constitution. She is still trying to change the constitution. Peace is about changing constitutions. Therefore it stands to reason, that constitutionally speaking, there are three pillars of the state, and for the sake of peace let us assume that two of these pillars, or indeed all three of them, are at a given time, interchangeable….''

"Any more caviar, Sir?'' was all that the manager could muster at this startling turn of events, which he wagered, would, if he were to paraphrase the Speaker, "go down in the history'' of this hotel. In his mind he already had a mental picture of the plaque that was to be erected here, which would say "here, a lasting peace was first hatched by Hon Jagland.''

But, the thoughts of the Honourable Speaker had sent him in to a reverie, and momentarily he was disturbed, and was distracted, even from these gems of wisdom that were flowing torrent like from this eminent man of peace. To think that the Speaker, having been speaking of sharing a Blue Label with him just the day before, had to go off to London to talk to the QC's about giving a ruling.

What would the QC's say. "Which wig is big, old chap?" or, "Who is batting, the judges or the others?'' He felt a certain empathy for the dear Speaker, and wished he could send a Blue Label to help him in his discomfiture.

But, Hon Jagland was surprising him so consistently, that this should not have come to him as a surprise at all.

"Talking of your Speaker,'' he said, "he is a remarkable man. He believes in third parties, which is why we Norwegians should raise our hat to him in the first place.''

"Third parties, sir?'' said the Manager, now collecting himself, and helping himself back into the conversation.

"Yes, if he didn't believe in third parties, he wouldn't be consulting QC's when he has to resolve an issue back home, would he?'' said Jagland, adding that he should read Erskine May - not the one in the newspapers.

Wickremesinghe, Vajpayee, Bandaranaike, QC's and caviar, all of it was becoming rather confusing however for the manager, more confusing than the a la carte accharu the Chef had been bragging of the day before in the kitchen.

"Look at it this way, my friend,'' said Jagland, finally coming to the rescue of his favourite hotel manager. "in your country, even if it is the executive, the legislature or the judiciary, it is always a Bandaranaike,'' he announced, triumphantly. He needed no more to be convinced. The pillars of the state were interchangeable indeed.

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