By C P Thiagarajah –
Mahinda Rajapksa’s defeat in the 8 Jan 2015 polls came as a surprise to Rajapkse family. It simultaneously alerted political circles the need to be democratic and humble in politics. Mahinda Rajapaksa (MR) gave a manipulated form of democracy to SriLanka that encouraged Sinhala hegemony in all walks of live be it political, administrative or judicial. MR and his coterie were caught unawares with their pants down during their electioneering campaigns. Though they sensed that the fight would be tough after the challenger Maitripala Sirisena (MS) was snatched out of MR cabinet by Madame Chandrika Bandaranaike (CB) to contest him. MR hoped to emerge as victor in the election using his Buddhist Sinhala stance and his image as Dutugemunu the II after the war of May 2009 in which nearly 150000 Tamil civilians were alleged to have been killed ignoring human rights considerations. With this game plan he never gave any political concession or made any agreements with even the Muslim community that backed him in his last government. For the same reason he kept the TNA too away totally rejecting the implementation of 13th Amendment that is in the Sri-Lankan statute book. His supporters were over confident that the communal trump card would work.
In fact his neo Nazism campaign worked in the coastal areas of Sri-Lanka and in the deep western provinces as revealed in the final election count below. One of MR campaign moments of xenophobia was circulated in many Youtube videos. This was a challenge to the Tamil Nation to gulp it and wait what would happen to them in the election. Probably a doom like Mullivaikal and the end of democracy or the vanishing of his archaic rule and a dawn of democracy and a new age of ethnic harmony.
Even if some extremist Sinhalese want to assume that Sri-Lanka is for the Sinhalese the reality is counter wise. Many Sinhala people living in areas like some parts of the hill country and East and West of Sri-Lanka feels that extremism is not a game changer any more. That is why MS got this astonishing victory over his onetime boss MR. Sirisena was voted in by the Sinhalese and not by the Tamils or Muslims as MR told the press no sooner he returned crest fallen to Hambantota recluse. The minority’s democratic votes only tipped the scales. The result of 8 January is shown below.
In these 7 districts, from Polonaruwa down one could see how the votes polled between Sirisena and Rajapaksa were almost equally split in Badulla, Puttalam and Gampaha districts. Champika Ranawaka of Jatika Hela Urumaya says that his party gave 9 lakhs of Sinhala-Buddhist votes (Uthayan paper Jan 11). Champika and others including CB might have influenced the Sinhala Buddhist voters to change over to MS.
In Badulla distrct the vote of the Tamils of Indian origin carried Sirisena into victory. It is pertinent to recollect that Mahinda Rajapakse promised 50000 houses for the estate Tamils but he sadly disappointed them by his empty promise. This angered them and hence it is a protest vote of vengeance. In Puttalam, the population is half Muslim and Tamil and half Sinhalese. The Muslim party leaders asked their followers to vote for MS as a protest against attacks on mosques by Budu Bala Sena that supported MR. Nuwara Elia and Kandy have substantial Tamil and Muslim voters and it appears they swayed towards MS. The voters in the Traditional Homeland of the Tamils (TH) of North and East gave full backing to MS that raised his percentage of votes polled.
Former President Rajapaksa won Kalutara, Matale, Galle, Matara, Hambantota, Kurunegala, Anuradhapira, Moneragala districts.
During the hey days of his raj MR tried to be an iconoclast; to overshadow the memory of the founder of SLFP and the father of Chandrika, Mr Soloman West Ridgeway Dias Bandaranaike. Hell knows no fury as a woman scorned. Her daughter whose mother and father were Prime Ministers resented this and mulled over bringing this man down for a long time. She very often reminded the public meetings and at forums his father’s policy as enunciated during the formation of the SLFP. She harped on the main point which the peasants liked. In 1951, when S.W.R.D. Bandaranaike founded the SLFP, the party constitution emphasised that it would be a social democratic party which would not tolerate the rule of one person or one group-monopoly. That is precisely what has happened to the SLFP today. MR has simply resorted to this misdemeanour. Today-the total expenditure of the last budget was 1.7 trillion rupees of which 1.2 trillion rupees are directly controlled by the Rajapakasas.
Consequently, CB had axes to grind. Hence she carefully orchestrated a strategy to claim legitimacy among the voters. She was one time called the Bandit queen by the editor of the Sinhala daily Ravaya, Victor Ivan. She had to rehabilitate herself to be trustworthy, even though the common man respected their parents for their contribution to the man from the village. They made the central college students to enter the senior civil service. Eg late Mr Nawagamuwa, the first commissioner of Ayrvedha was a central college product. Therefore, it was not a surprise that CB functioned as the honest broker behind the Sirisena candidacy in order to pulverise the power MR wielded in the SLFP portraying him as ‘fake hero’. She made the Sinhala masses realise that MR’s “Mahinda Chintanaya” was an imposters work and that he was imitating the Chinese revolutionist Mao Tse Tung in producing a policy document. She resurrected herself as well to bring about her political rival’s downfall.
Another factor that caused the revolution in the election was indeed mysterious. Human nature is to be free and independent and the Sinhalese are no exception to this basic truth. Though some extremist say that MR gave the very poor peace and security by demolishing the terrorist LTTE, it came by at a great cost of innocent human lives; 150000 of them in May 2009 alone. Lord Buddha said thou shall not kill. So did Lord Jesus. MR and his brother, ex-army personnel Gotabaya Rajapaksa, sanctioned the bombing knowing quite well that there would be severe casualties. Under UN world order, any violators of this command of unjustifiable killings will be facing the consequences for transgressing this sacred truth. UN is organising an inquiry into this sordid affair of May 2009; that of violating the universal law and human rights.
Hence it was no wonder that bad karma also worked mysteriously to the downfall of the semi dictator MR. Hindu scriptures add that Karma operates mysteriously and it does not obey any laws of physics except that any action have equal and opposite reaction. Having been driven out by his own people he has enough time to study meta-physics the phenomenon for his plummeting to an ordinary citizen in the backwoods of Hambantota. He might ponder on performing some penance before the UN begins the International Inquiry into war crimes committed by the armed forces in May 2009 during his command in the war against the LTTE that resulted in the extermination of nearly 150000 Tamil civilians.
MR was the kingpin of ultra- nationalism and maintained it through many of his actions till his time of downfall on 8 January 2015. The world rejoice in the change of regime and the minority Tamils in their Traditional Homeland of North and East are relived that an oppressor and the man who dictated terms to their governance contravening democratic principles is finished at last. Under the newly elected MS’s government the world expect to see justice is being served for the crimes of the past government. His holiness Pope Francis, an Argentinian, said at a mass in Mannar Madu church “The great work of rebuilding must embrace improving infrastructures and meeting material needs, but also, and even more importantly, promoting human dignity, respect for human rights, and the full inclusion of each member of society” The visiting Pope also urged the newly elected SL President to seek reconciliation and truth. “The process of healing also needs to include the pursuit of truth, not for the sake of opening old wounds, but rather as a necessary means of promoting justice, healing and unity,”
MR’s fall and MS’s victory are lessons for historians and aspiring future politicians should make a conviction that they should not trudge the path of hate and instead embrace compassion as their beacon.