As the Rajapaksa regime pulls out all stops to prevent further erosion to the opposition, the Colombo Telegraph can now exclusively reveal details about the money bags behind stopping defections from the ruling UPFA coalition.
One Nadesan, businessman and a close aide of President Mahinda Rajapaksa is said to be offering large sums of money to UPFA members on the fence about who to support at the presidential election in January.
The Rajapaksas have entrusted the moneybags to Nadesan, whose own track record on criminal financial activity could be exposed if he fails to do the regime’s bidding.
Colombo Telegraph learns that Nadesan has informed confidants that all those SLFP members taking funds from the President and his family in exchange to remain with the Government will have hell to pay if he wins a third term.
“To really enjoy their money they will have to pray for him to lose because if he wins he will demand the money back with interest,” the businessman is reported to have quipped in the company of friends and associates.
The President is livid about having to spend money in hundreds of millions to hold MPs and Government Ministers from decamping, the Colombo Telegraph also learns.
Former Government Minister of Public Reforms Navin Dissanayake claimed that he had been offered 100 million to remain with the Rajapaksa government. Colombo Telegraph learns that to retain some ministers and hold back MPs on the fence, the Government has also written off housing and other loans to the tune of millions. In the case of Janaka Bandara Tennakoon who cried about the fate of the SLFP in a widely publicised speech recently President Rajapaksa has threatened to recall his children serving in Lankan missions overseas if he crosses over, Colombo Telegraph learns.
Over 20 SLFP members were scheduled to cross over to the opposition in order to support the candidacy of Maithripala Sirisena, but the flood has turned into a trickle since the Rajapaksa regime put their counter strategy in motion.
Throwing hundreds of millions at MPs was akin to small change for the Rajapaksa campaign, some sources noted. It is not clear if Nadesan is spending his own money or the Rajapaksa brothers’ cash on stopping defections.
Meanwhile the Colombo Telegraph can now reveal that President Rajapaksa held a meeting with six separate private advertising agencies two weeks ago. Each agency was handed over an advance of Rs. 50 million to start production and book air time for the President’s re-election campaign. The incumbent President is reported to have submitted his declaration of assets to the Elections Commissioner Mahinda Deshapriya but this document has not yet been made public. It is unclear if the asset declaration shows enough amassed wealth to afford a publicity campaign of the scale the Rajapaksa administration is undertaking.
On December 8, Nominations Day, every major newspaper published in the country – 15 in all three languages carried false front pages featuring the President’s return to Sri Lanka after the end of the war on May 18th 2009. Each newspaper carried an article of its own front page on the historic day. Sources said that in the English newspapers alone such a false cover would cost upwards of Rs. 2 million while Sinhalese newspapers would cost much more.