24 June, 2024


Mahinda Rajapaksa: Sculptor Of A Brutal Political Architecture

By Vishwamithra

“There are only two tragedies in life: one is not getting what one wants, and the other is getting it.’’ ~ Oscar Wilde

Mahinda Rajapaksa is an extraordinary individual. His passion for power seems to have overrun all plausible limits; his determination to cling on to something that is very tangible that comes in the guise of sheer ‘power’ saw to it that his political journey never came to an unforeseen halt. After entering Parliament in 1970 at a very tender age, thanks mainly to the ‘Blue Wave’ under Sirimavo Bandaranaike, Mahinda’s first term in the House of the People was not a remarkable one. Raising the hand for each and every government-sponsored bill and engaging in heckling and harassing a depleted Opposition does not require a disciplined professionalism in Parliament.

Politics is not merely getting elected on a heap of empty election pledges and wasting time and public resources thereafter. Being subjected to a new political culture that saw the light of day in the wake of the ’1956 Revolution’ and exposing birth pangs of another nihilistic and existentialist culture, a culture and behavioral pattern of those who came to occupy seats of power in Independent Ceylon, Mahinda Rajapaksa and other political tyros were no exception to the rule of the day. Sirimavo’s government was a coalition of the Bandaranaikes and socialists of post-Independent Ceylon. Their economic principle and policy began and ended with socialism, the total concept of which was, in effect, ‘State Capitalism’. Sloganeering and palatable phrasing of harsh economic measures began gaining ground in the immediate aftermath of the ’70 general elections. 

Brainwashed in a populist political agenda, Mahinda Rajapaksa could not understand the nuanced aspects of liberal democracy and was closely tutored by a charismatic leader in the stature of Sirimavo Bandaranaike. Mahinda could experience, on a firsthand basis, how giants like N M Perera, Colvin R de Silva and Peter Keuneman cowed down to ‘Her Majesty Sirimavo Bandaranaike’. His close association with Anura Bandaranaike at the time was well known in all political circles and that association would have helped Mahinda a whole lot which he could not learn in school. That learning included, among others, as to how a democratically elected government could assemble all powers within a single family. It may have occurred to him at that time that one day he could replace the ‘Bandaranaike Family Rule’ with a ‘Rajapaksa Family Rule’, which he did. 

He surely has learnt how to navigate a flimsy boat in ferocious waters. Sirimavo Bandaranaike was a unique leader. She, unlike other SLFP leaders, was fortunate to have had the services of one of the most intensely sharp political minds Sri Lanka ever produced, Felix Dias Bandaranaike, a distant relation of S W R D Bandaranaike. Felix, unlike his contemporaries in the SLFP clique, was a results-oriented politician. And Sirimavo’s trust and dependability on him was total and unreserved. A brilliant student at Colombo Royal College and Law College, Colombo, Felix, in fact, barring JR Jayewardene, did not have any match. But his propensity towards ‘one-man rule’ (in this case, ‘one-family rule’) ultimately led to an electoral debacle for the Sri Lanka Freedom Party a process that also claimed the political lives of longtime parliamentarians such as N M, Colvin and Keuneman.

Mahinda Rajapaksa who learnt his political ABC from Sirimavo/Felix- combine apparently learnt only the uncouth lessons. Mahinda was either too lazy to learn or did deliberately choose to disregard the consequences of the politics of quasi-dictatorship cum family rule. Fortunately, or unfortunately, Sirimavo/Felix-combine was not to enjoy the uses and abuses of Presidential powers. Were he given the Presidential powers that were inherent in that office, Felix would have schooled Mahinda Rajapaksa. Absence of a brainy political mind close to him was greatly felt in the Mahinda-era. Basil or Gotabaya was no match to Felix. In fact, inserting Basil’s and Gotabaya’s names into the same sentence with Felix would be an insult to the stature and brain power of Felix Dias Bandaranaike.

Yet, how did Mahinda become so powerful a political figure in the first decade of the twenty first century? The answer is simple: Presidential powers and victory against the LTTE. Mahinda learnt from his predecessor, Chandrika Bandaranaike, the daughter of Sirimavo, the enormity of the inherent powers in the Executive Presidency but greed for material wealth and comforts conquered the ultimate electability, come election time. Mahinda’s singular loyalty to the majority of voters, Sinhalese Buddhists, and dependency on his brother Basil to deliver them at the polling station, through the Grama Niladarai, Agriculture Extension Officer and Samurdi Niladarai, the three most decisive government servants at the grassroots level, failed in 2015. It was even alleged that raw cash was given away to the voters in the villages on the day before election.

It was SLFP-led coalitions that were in power from 1994 to 2014. From 1994 up till 2004, while Chandrika Bandaranaike, the President of the country was sleeping, Mahinda Rajapaksa collected his manpower around his immediate family. The Siblings and children gathered around the patriarch and tried to fine-tune the machinery of Presidential Powers. Instead of fine-tuning, they produced an ugly, out-of-tune symphony of cohorts and henchmen and women. The nepotistic cabal to which Mahinda gave birth made the nepotism so openly practiced by Sirimavo Bandaranaike as Prime Minister from 1970 to 1977 look like mere child-play. 

Yet after becoming President, Mahinda had some of his loyalists occupying key government positions: Lalith Weeratunga as Secretary to President, PB Jayasundara as Secretary to Ministry of Finance and Nivad Cabral as Governor of the Central Bank. To this critical mass Mahinda added his own brother Gotabaya Rajapaksa as Secretary to the Ministry of Defence. His elder brother became the Speaker of the House of Parliament and Basil, the other younger brother became the Minster of Economic Development.

The circle was complete. The architecture was visibly in place. The styling, the process and the product of planning, designing, and constructing a mansion- the very definition of architecture- of unreserved dishonesty, corruption and nepotism was born. Along with this brutal architecture was also generated a genesis of a culture that is still in glaring display, a reflection of a nation that should be ashamed of, mortified and embarrassed with painting of its already docile and tedious profile. A hapless subject people inhaled the outer fragrance of an inwardly rotten culture. From the peon to the highest officer in government service was openly engaged in bribery and swindling off public funds. An unsuspecting general public became willing enablers of a rotting system and decomposing of a nation’s behavioral design.

Mahinda Rajapaksa, designer of this brutal architecture, sat atop this heap of trash which he created with the help of his siblings, henchmen and immediate family. The war-victory against the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Elam (LTTE), he thought and argued, gave him license to do all this pillage. The people too endured their own decay for the visible seductions were sufficient for their starving spirit. An uninspired soul was being fed by an equally crooked and fraudulent predator. An uncommon spectacle of predator and prey indulging in a macabre sharing of a nation’s material and spiritual wealth was in parade. Once again the sculptor of this ugly and brutal architecture watched with gleeful eyes and poised demeanor.

This is the culture the Rajapaksas want this country to go back to. The loss of power was not limited to the mere power over man and woman; the loss of material wealth was a vital and fundamental part of that defeat. Twenty years is a long time to be in power, especially in a democracy where rulers are elected by the people. Electoral fatigue can set in; repeat of failed policies and intolerance of criticisms and brutal suppression of free speech and free movement follow in a time when rulers themselves get tired of seeing the same old cronies hovering around the pillars of power. But the voracious hunger for power of the Rajapaksas and their Parliamentarian-cronies seems insatiable. 

In the midst of such a brutal setting, the next Presidential Elections will be held. The anger and a concealed call for vengeance for the ungrateful Sirisena shall sustain the Rajapaksas’ efforts; their seemingly easy access to cash would bear the increasing dependency on it and it’s availability amongst their cohorts would further encourage them to go on a cash-spree-election campaign that might outspend all other previous campaigns put together.

All these and more has contributed to the architecture Mahinda Rajapaksa has created with his perverted and avaricious mind. The design is not unique but its unseen lines and strokes have generated a working structure that is, to use an oft-repeated cliché, outside the box. But Sri Lankans need to be more focused than they have shown to date. An embarrassing mindset that is ever so susceptible to the caprices and impulses of electioneering is going to make a bad situation unpalatably worse. If that occurs, that is a victory for the Rajapaksas, however big or small. The architecture Mahinda Rajapaksa could claim ownership to, could devour the land and her people and any recovery would take at least a generation or two.

That architecture must be done away with; its consequential culture must be exposed to what it is: one of corruption, nepotism and dishonesty. Ranil Wickremesinghe might be ineffective and uninspiring; but for the sustenance of our democracy, the most ineffective and uninspiring Ranil is hundred times better than Mahinda Rajapaksa. Mahinda and Company has got to go!

‘Carthago delenda est’. Carthage must be destroyed! 

The writer can be contacted at vishwamithra1984@gmail.com           

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Latest comments

  • 16

    Mahinda Rajapakse is a shameless disgusting power crazy lunatic who would go down to any low level to grab power. He does not care two hoots for the Country or the Citizens but will do anything to grab power.

    • 10

      Namal Perera – “He does not care two hoots for the country or the citizens but will do anything to grab power.” Medamulana Meeharaka Percy Mahendra Rajafucksha went to the extent of nominating a teledrama actress as an M.P. mainly to satisfy his biological needs. Disgraceful bastard wanting to come back and eat the rest of the pie!

  • 4

    It was because Of Mahinda Rajapakse we won the war. Only Problem was Mahinda rajapakse did not know how to identify his enemies are. There are other places in the world where Politicians and journalists had been bought.
    Ranil’s Yahapalana govt is far disastrous than What Mahinda rajapakse was. Ravi Karunanayake had changed the Exchange control act and the replacement was written by foreigners and higher officials in the Central bank was only allowed to read it. They say no where in that legislation the word Offence is defined or how to handle or investigate offences are not mentioned. Srilankan financial, Monetary and bank system is big trouble. Peoples bank had gone bankrupt for the third time or so. Mangala wanted to privatize it Maithripala Said no to that. In the same Public meeting Ranil was there. Instead of talking about Peoples Bank ranil had said that the BOC is doing well because it had accumulated more money.. but, the truth is, BOC earned 50% lesser profits than the previous year.
    Mahinda Rajapakse at least won the war and Zaharan would not have blown off if Gotabhaya Rajapakse was behind them, Because,they would divulge everything what would be happening.

  • 4

    Behind all this the fact is that Mahinda had the guts to take on the LTTE ( and the so called NGO , international community) and get rid of terrorism from this country.

    After the Yahpalanaya joke of 4 years, we now see that Mahinda achieved a better economic growth rate than pundits of the UNP. And though Mahinda and his associates were not honest by any means , we also realise that neither is Ranil and his UNP honest, they are even bigger crooks.

    The fact is that the slimy slithery style of Ranil makes anyone else look good and Mahinda look very good. What must be destroyed is not Cathage,but Ranil. If Ranil is gone there is hope of a good alternative emerging

    • 1

      A UNP lickspittle speaks. He is never going to tell us how his Godfather GD made money or burnt a sacred library. He cannot be objective about his own party. Everyone knows this. He cannot talk about the low caste people’s President stole stuff from Presidential palaces and sold at London auctions. He cannot talk about how Carnations were flown on UL flights for a poufty-in-law

      This man can have some credit if he’s honest about the Beeshana period where he enjoyed perks. Can he talk about how he generated wealth?

  • 3

    ” Ranil Wickremesinghe might be ineffective and uninspiring; “

    This is the real problem, not Mahinda’s nepotism. The UNP does not have a viable candidate to contest , as long as the face of their party is RW. JR was a legend, the best statesman since Independence; so good that people are willing to let the useless nephew occupy a permanent place in politics. But not the top post. The author is correct about corruption. Ironically, this corruption is mostly facilitated by the executive presidency set in motion by JR. During a civil war, EP as well as other measures like PTA and white van rides make sense. JR had good foresight when drafting the EP. Mahinda used the EP to defeat the LTTE. Without EP, it would not have been possible. Defeating a deadly terror outfit is not an experiment in democracy. One must resort to extraordinary measures. There is another issue which the author does not mention. For most of its history, SL has had a monarchy. The Westminister System was forcefully implemented by the British. Some lackeys and coolies supported this system; for example, the early Tamil politicians. But for maximum success, it has to be modified along “indigenous” lines. That is the key to tackling corruption, not electing RW to be the top boss.

  • 3

    Hatred has no limits as amply demonstrated in this piece.

    If you create a balanced score card of performance between MR and RW, you would see why MR would beat RW hands down.

    Only way these stooges can save RW from defeat is through establishing obstacles through constitutional tinkering and selective (& bogus) court cases.

    The feudalistic familial power structure was established in 1948 allowing handful of families to control the country’s political power and the economy. The robber culture was irrevocably established under the “free market” economy of JRJ from whom Ranil picked up a single trait that of how to bum suck the Yanks. Rajapaksas benefited from that structure though they were never the architects.

  • 3

    If an angel appeared before me at the 2005 elections and offered me to choose between Mahinda and Ranil – Mahinda with all the attributes Vishvamitra has enumerated here but would take LTTE head on and Ranil who would sign up peace deals with Prabhakaran I would raise my both hands for Rajapaksa with no hesitation.
    I owe my freedom of reading Colombo Telegraph today to Mahinda Rajapaksa.


  • 4

    A lunatic write-up, as usual, for like minded lunatics. Other than ‘hate-Rajapakshe’ gibberish, what else this so called “mithra” is scribblings all over the pages of CT and once to DM? Just crap.

  • 4

    Oh, I see the fans of of the sculptor coming out to defend his magnificent architecture. Dude why so much of flowery language. Just say SOB, simple and plain.They forget that MR just didnt end LTTE (if that was the actual motive, the losses would have been much less), but he went further in killing innocent civilians to get the Sinhala Buddhist/racist behind him. He used the war for his own political gains. (exactly what JR told in 84, he wanted more killings to satisfy his racist vote bank, the difference is JR was cocky and hence admitted, this SOB simply lied). He knew that by conducting the war in his own way, Sinhala Buddhist racist and their future generations will be loyal to his family for life. As a simple politician he knew, this was his only chance to make any dent within two old parties. He sure succeeded with his plan and now we see the results, where millions are blindly following him (like how white supremacist follow Trump and keep yelling abusive and threatening slogans) regardless of reality, SLFP is no more as a party and now known as “New SLPP.”, UNP too lost some of their hardened racist voters to MR and what ever percentage of those voters MR carries today are theirs for life (because of this Rajapaksas are now indispensable and can never be taken out of electoral equation like RSS and KKK .Some one here is talking about a balance sheet. If dont mind some one please explain me what that balance sheet may look like ???? How many kills, ???How many loots, who stole less???who murdered more ??? who abused less ??? less/more evil, corrupt ?? criminal ??? The comment it self is a proof.

  • 5

    Sirima, JR, Premadasa, CBK all architects long before MR. MR just built the tallest money tree.

  • 3

    Well articulated by Vishwamithra. Hypocrite SWRD started the rot with his nationalistic agenda, his widow came to power on a sympathetic vote & sucked up to the Chinese. The country went backwards with her socialist vision (?) & the Sorbonne (?) educated daughter started the subtle corruption era. MR certainly had good mentors.

    Of course, UNP leaders were no better with autocratic JR, although not corrupt, was selfish in his governance for the sake of the party, turning a blind eye to under the table dealings of his ministers & to racists like Cyril Mathew, who instigated communal hatred & violence. Then there was Premadasa, the first of the uneducated yobs who was not only corrupt but wasted public funds on useless projects, his short term unsustainable ‘vision’. In fact, Premadasa should have been tried for treason for arming the LTTE, as well as, being responsible for the murder of journalist, Richard de Zoysa, & maybe even countless others. DB WIjethunga, harmless but a waste of space, so is Ranil, but perhaps, the most capable out of a bad bunch who has not benefited personally from politics, only to be let down by cronies he protected. Finally, Sirisena, the ungrateful, uneducated, despicable & corrupt yob, may have tried to outdo all the past leaders of SL when it comes to nepotism & corruption but MR remains the king by far.

    As long as there are those who live in denial of all the nepotism, corruption, thuggery & abuse of power but happy with the only favourable factor, the victory over the LTTE {thus liberating the country), MR will be back to fight another election. Only this time, he is here to stay & the Rajapakse dynasty will outlast the Bandaranayake dynasty, given the chance.

    • 0

      A good summary Raj.

  • 4

    Every word of this assay is true. There are many more to add about the way the whole family looted the country. He, his wife, his family, his wife’s family were like sea pirates on the land. Not only they looted the country, they treated the military, specially the Navy soldiers like their servants. No words to describe their despicable ways. Will he able to take his last breath in peace, I doubt. All the horrible deeds he did will come to his mind like a movie at the end. Specially his one time friend Lasantha Wickramatunga’s memories.

  • 1

    The title itself summarises the political and personal life of Rajapakse. A very good paper. Bensen

  • 0

    The write has lack of knowledge of post-colonial political history, of its political parties, its classes and social forces are differ stages reflected in our society. Why is that so ?
    Because of certain features of functions of norms of Democracy of that colonial remnants of governances has been inherited by UNP leadership and its classes. That classes was call as a Compradors bourgeoisie of UNP’s
    They(UNP-political classes) were anti-Socialist and in -depth totally an opposed Welfare Fare system of Education and health services by an opposed govt. intervention of eliminated that rural poor and urban have not’s from that society.
    Therefor, UNP has brought that result of not an Identical with SLFP of politics. While UNP was claim of liberal of privatization of capital and wealth for that neo-colonial order of corny capitalism in an Island.
    Hence that SLFP was shifted in 1956 has brought forward different set of policies due to that consequences were new path of governances of Democracy. That is why on Political development was uneven by Superstructure of (politics, culture and social values) and its Economy run on differ directions. It has vast gap between politics and economy of living reality was widen in an Island.
    Since 1956 UNP and SLFP one of the puzzles in post modern political economy is why voters at all.
    I herewith agreed that poverty of people of Lankan has rise since 71 year.
    Why was that common factors are in post -World War II era of World bank and IMF was instrument of choice of UNP and SLFP ruling parties of Island by last 71 years.
    Ours political and Economic sovereignty to upsurge by USA led that WB & IMF represented of the international creditor.
    Needless to say CB Bond scam of govt. funds that looted by tax payers money by UNP leader of Ranil Wickramasinge clique are that key accuse of Inside Trading of Bonds by govt. interfering.

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