By Hilmy Ahamed –
The title is a comment from one of my close friends who said, “Ganasara is the god sent saviour of Sri Lanka”. This was a spontaneous statement as soon as Maithripala Sirisena was declared the winner at the presidential elections. I will not give such an honourable credit to someone who profuse so much hate and propagates violence against fellow human beings.
I didn’t need to ask her any further. She went on to explain “if not for that bloody T…g in saffron robes who is a disgrace to Buddhism, the minorities would never have voted Maithripala and booted the Rajapaksas’ out of office”. She is a strong practicing Buddhist and a humanist, and the anger in her eyes revealed her inner feelings for Ven. Gnanasara, hence her pun.
It makes sense to me now, as to why President Mahinda Rajapaksa was thrown out by the vast majority of Sinhala Buddhist voters. With the number of Buddhist moderates now demanding a commission of inquiry in to the hate campaign and the funding that has been received by Ven. Gnanasara and the Bodu Bala Sena it is clear that the Sri Lankan Buddhists were helpless under the Rajapaksa tyranny to demand justice for the minorities.
The minority votes continues to unfortunately become the deciding factor in any election. The 2010 election was an exception. Even though, Champika from the JHU and a small group of other Buddhist racists have now begun denying the power of the minority vote, all that was needed was a mere 200,000 minority votes to shift towards Mahinda Rajapaksa and the dreams of Maithripala Sirisena, Ranil Wickremesinghe and over 5 million Sri Lankans would have been a shattered dream. So, its not a question as to who votes are not, but it’s about how the minorities vote. If the minority votes are split, their contribution is insignificant. The Buddhist vote on the other hand, is split between the two main candidates, more so this time because of the large coalition that was built around Maithripala Sirisena in the just concluded election. The UNP sponsored Maithripala Sirisena was able to garner a larger portion of the Sinhala Buddhist vote because of this coalition. Analysis of the votes in the northern Tamil stronghold, the Muslim East or the plantation Tamils in the central region based on the number of voters who turned up at polling booths matched with the numbers polled for the common candidate reveals that an absolute majority voted for change. It would not have mattered who the candidate was as it turned out to be an anti-Rajapaksa vote. This was not because they hated President Mahinda Rajapaksa, but Ven. Gnanasara Thero and his band of violent racists made sure that Rajapaksas, especially Gotabaya Rajapaksa was made the monster, in their racist agenda. Was this a conspiracy they hatched with their financiers to boot the Rajapaksa administration out or is it just a strategy that went wrong? The songs they sing today for their supper praising Maithripala Sirisena and pledges of support from the Bodu Bala Sena for his 100-day programme may reveal some of the hidden agenda of the Bodu Bala Sena. Will President Maithripala Sirisena fall in to their trap? His voters are alert, and will tolerate no nonsense from President Maithripala Sirisena on this count.
I still cannot fathom as to why the plantation Tamils overwhelmingly voted for Maithripala ditching even their demi-god Arumugam Thondaman, who had pledged to migrate to India if Mahinda Rajapaksa lost the presidential race. Is it because the new breed of Digambarams has taken over plantation politics?
As a Muslim, I can with out any hesitation say, all that the Muslim community would ask for from the new administration is to be allowed to live as equal citizens in this country with equal access to justice, with freedom to practice their faith and vocation, wear their choice of attire and be part of the Sri Lankan nation. Commitment to cultural diversity by the new administration will cement the reconciliation process that has been butchered by the new breed of Buddhist extremists.
I have heard even from the most moderate Buddhist monks that the Muslims have too many mosques. There is some truth in this presumption, but what is important to note and understand is that Muslim men are obligated to pray five times a day as a congregation and no other religion prescribes it as such. So, can they congregate at a private residence five times a day, everyday? Hence the need for common prayer centers in places where Muslims live and work in numbers. This is a priority, for them to practice their religion. Further, any place of worship anywhere should be encouraged because it brings serenity to the environment, discipline to its youth and compassion amongst the people. It would also be important for the Maithripala Sirisena administration to enact building guidelines for places of worship as part of his 100-day programme to ensure that there would be no friction between communities in building places of religious worship. In any case, no one, either they are in robes or otherwise should not be permitted to become vigilantes.
Most polls analysts are talking about the Muslim and Tamil votes and fail to count the anti Rajapaksa Sinhala/Tamil Christian votes. Almost every single Christian too voted against Rajapaksa, because of the hate campaign, destruction of their prayer centers, and intimidation that were carried out by the Bodu Bala Sena, Sihala Ravaya and the Jathika Hela Urumaya. Maithripala’s coalition partner, the JHU too were responsible for this campaign against the Christians, but the voters held the Rajapaksas responsible for allowing these extremist to operate with impunity and failing to bell the cat. So it is very clear that any one of the minority groups could have tilted the balance of power at the last presidential elections, if the Rajapaksas had the slightest interest in treating all communities alike.
I continue to have a very high regard for Defence Secretary, Gotabaya Rajapaksa for the good things he has done for the country. I would like to recall a conversation I had with him in one of our numerous engagements in addressing the concerns of the Muslim community. I asked him as to why he was not reining in the BBS when he led the fight against the most feared and ruthless terrorist movement and destroyed them. He had a ready answer, and he said and I quote “ I am here to support my brother, President Mahinda Rajapaksa to continue being the president. If I touched the saffron robe, he would be finished. If you need to take this up, please take it up with my brother, the president”. If only he had known that the Bodu Bala Sena was the ones who would destroy his brother, he would not have hesitated even for a second to eliminate the BBS.
For the first time in my life, I saw the enthusiasm of my Muslim community to exercise their franchise, and I believe that everyone who had the physical ability to vote voted in every corner of the country. Women, even in the most conservative villages were out in numbers at dawn lining up to be the first ones to vote, a rare sight indeed. How and why did this enthusiasm come about, it is only because of the racist antics of the Bodu Bala Sena., the pogrom at Aluthgama and the destruction of Muslim mosques and places of religious worship .
Thank you, Venerable Galagode Aththe Gnansara Thero. You have helped Sri Lanka to make the change. If not for you, the Muslims would not have voted against the former President, Mahinda Rajapaksa in numbers as they did. For the semi-literate rural folk, the hackneyed jargon of good governance, corruption, nepotism or abuse of power does not resonate with their daily lives. The war victory still remains in their hearts and minds and voting against Rajapaksa was almost treason. Yet, our Venerable Galagoda Aththe Gnanasara Thero’s campaign of terror made sure that the rural voters opted for change.
Like the Rajapaksa’s, Ven. Gnanasara too was not seen in public after the election results were announced. There were rumours that he was on an Emirates flight to Paris, transiting in Dubai. But the sudden emergence of the BBS duo, Ven. Gnanasara Thero and Dilanthe Withanage at a press conference is cause for concern. His racist agenda needs to be halted and the President has enough legislation that could be used against anyone instigating hate. These cardboard patriot hate mongers need to be prosecuted and justice delivered so that true reconciliation amongst the Sinhala, Tamil and Muslim communities would be reestablished. Failure on his part will spell doom for President Maithripala’s coalition in the immediate future.