The triumvirate comprising President Mahinda Rajapaksa, Secretary to the Ministry of Defence Gotabaya Rajapaksa and Army Chief Sarath Fonseka was hailed for providing political, administrative and military leadership respectively in the triumphant war against the LTTE.
One camp said Rajapaksas, not Fonseka, deserves credit for the military victory. Another camp said Fonseka, not the Rajapaksas, deserves credit for the military victory. Victor Ivan divided the victory credit into three portions, the larger portion to Mahinda Rajapaksa, the second larger portion to Gotabaya and the third to Fonseka. Well known political commentator Gamini Viyangoda wrote that the Rajapaksas have not fought in the battle fields like Dutugemunu, so it is unfair to give the large portion to the Rajapaksas. Some argued giving credit does not require taking it away from someone else. It is not a finite commodity. Refusing to credit Fonseka or the Rajapaksas is wrong.
D.B.S Jeyaraj a well known commentator wrote subtlety, but analytically; President Rajapaksa made two crucial appointments at the onset of his presidency in anticipation of a savage war with the LTTE. One was to make his younger sibling Gotabhaya Rajapaksa Defence Secretary. The other was to appoint Sarath Fonseka as Army Commander and extend his tenure. Gotabaya an old soldier himself held Lt. Colonel rank when he quit the army in 1991 and migrated to the United States of America. Although a US citizen Gotabhaya returned to serve his brother and country with a missionary zeal. His objective was to defeat and destroy the LTTE and rid Sri Lanka of a menace plaguing it for decades. It was at Gotabhaya’s behest that Sarath Fonseka was made Army Chief. He was scheduled to retire as he would have reached the mandatory age 55 on December 6, 2005. But Gotabhaya persuaded his brother to make Sarath Army Chief because Fonseka was the best man to lead the army at that point of time. There was also Fonseka’s colossal arrogance. He fancied himself as a combination of Hannibal, Alexander, Julius Caesar, Napoleon and Rommel. In Sarath Fonseka’s self-perception he was Sri Lanka’s greatest military treasure and all glory was due to him alone. It was the “I, me., myself alone” syndrome.
But still the big question remains. Who was the main drive behind this victory? Was it Mahinda or Gota or Fonseka? Certainly Mahinda wasn’t. I recall my own experience with Mahinda Rajapaksa. If I’m correct he only gave an interview re: Ranil Wikremesinghe’s peace process to me. It was published in “Peace Monitor” (Sama Vimarshi) at that time. While President Chandrika Kumaratunge and Mangala Samaraweera were subtly sabotaging the peace process and publicly criticising it, as the leader of the opposition Mahinda Rajapaksa has given fullest support to the Norwegian led peace process. He didn’t believe a war victory was possible. Then who was the main force behind the war victory?
Norwegian peace envoy Erik Solheim answered the question last week. Addressing a Oslo seminar followed by the launch of the evaluation report of the Norwegian Peace effort in Sri Lanka between 1997 and 2009.
Erik said “No one. Maybe with the exception of Gotabaya Rajapaksa, but he’s the only person I can mention who thought a military victory was possible. No one in Colombo thought it was possible. I was very close to Indian intelligence and an enormous amount of time throughout this process and never, ever did any Indian official hint that a military victory was possible until mid 2008. Then they started, I observed the change in M. K. Narayanan and others and gradually shift into the position that may be, still maybe the government can wipe out the tigers military victory. Before that no one thought it was possible, the United States thought it was impossible, USA, India and Colombo thought it was impossible, so again a complete change from what we all based the peace process on until that point.”
Now we know why Gota is so powerful and why Mahinda is so beholden to him. So, thanks to Solheim, problem solved, Gota is the hero. But one thing is there. I would like to quote a comment among hundred comments on Colombo Telegraph.
“That’s exactly what our hero Gota did. He killed the Rat by burning the house.”
Courtesy The Sunday Leader