Mahinda Rajapaksa is down but not out. The fact remains he polled 5.64 million votes from the 16 districts predominated by Sinhalese in the south barring the solitary Nuwara Eliya electoral district. He also won 10 out of 22 electoral districts in the south.
Yesterday, the Sinhala supremacists in the SLFP, NFF and other fringe parties held a largely attended rally at Nugegoda. The aim of the rally is to bring back Mahinda Rajapaksa to active politics and promote him the next Prime Minister of Sri Lanka. Not surprisingly former Ambassador Dr. Dayan Jayatilleka attended the rally. As we all know DJ is in the forefront deftly playing the national security card to whip up Sinhalese racism. He read a message sent by Mahinda Rajapaksa to the organizers of the rally. The message said that the thing he told the people who came to meet him was that what he suffered was not a defeat but the result of a conspiracy.
He does not explain what the conspiracy is about. He does not name the conspirators. But, we may make an intelligent guess. The conspirators’ are Maithripala Sirisena and Ranil Wickremesinghe. May be we have to add USA and India as those behind the conspirators.
Mahinda Rajapaksa conveniently forgets the fact that in the 2005 presidential election he e just scraped through only by a razor thin majority of 186,786 (1.57%) votes. So he should not complain about Sirisena’s victory margin of 449,972 (3.70%) votes.
Not surprisingly one of the organizers of the rally is Vasudeva Nanayakkara the erstwhile Trotskyite leader. Comrade Trotsky must be turning in his grave seeing him in good company with another red-shirted pseudo Marxist Wimal Wimalawansa. Both are supporting the return of the fascist, chauvinistic and murderous regime of Mahinda Rajapaksa.
“I do not hesitate to accept the defeat as a defeat because it is not new to me and disgrace is not new to me either. Even jail is not new to me. All of you know that I have undergone all of them for your sake,” he said in the message. This is clear when you consider the two-thirds majority of the Opposition in parliament. I challenge the opponents of the country to state that they had obtained a great victory with their heads straight. I emphasise to them that enjoying the benefits of a shrewd agenda is not a victory.”
Mahinda Rajapaksa has repeatedly claimed he will not accept the democratic verdict of the people. After Rajapaksa vacated Temple Trees and went to Medamulana his ancestral home he addressed his supporters. In an emotional speech he gave went to his frustration as follows:
“The Prime reason for the defeat in the Presidential Election is caused by the vote banks of the Tamils from North, East and from the Upcountry, therefore, I cannot accept this defeat, which has been caused by the Tamils by voting against me. Therefore, I am not at all accepting this as a defeat. Even now the power has not gone out of Sinhalese from the government. Because of my defeat, the Tamil community is not going to get any benefit at all”. This is the same Rajapaksa when he went to the North asked the Thamil people to forget about the past and support him at the elections.
What does Rajapaksa implies when he says he cannot accept this defeat? The votes cast by the Thamils don’t count at all? They are not citizens of the country? Of course he relied on the Sinhala – Buddhist vote bank to win the 2005 and 2010 presidential elections. This time too he relied on the same Sinhala – Buddhist votes but the voters turned against him. He lost 247,844 votes in 2015 compared to 2010 despite an addition of 955,990 voters to the electoral register.
Ironically immediately after the defeat of Mahinda Rajapaksa Wimal Weerawansa said “Basil Rajapaksa did every possible thing to defeat Mahinda Rajapaksa. If it wasn’t for Basil we would have won the election.” Does Mahinda Rajapaksa endorsing this claim by Weerawansa?
It is obvious stung by defeat, Rajapaksa will make clarion calls and will beat the racist drum to higher pitch in the coming weeks and months leading to the parliamentary elections scheduled for June.2015.
At the rally, National Freedom Front (NFF) leader Wimal Weerawansa as usual breathed fire and brimstone. He called on the people who were disgusted by voting for the ‘Swan’ to come forward to make Mahinda Rajapaksa the prime minister to save the country from the clutches of the Western forces.
“The creation of a federal government is imminent in the country and the unitary state of the country is in danger under the present government. We must make Mahinda Rajapaksa the prime minister to save the country. We will go to every city with this national struggle to achieve that goal,’ he told some thousands of supporters. Mr. Gammanpila, the erstwhile deputy leader of the JHU was more blunt and open. He said a separatist agenda was in operation under the pretext of 100 day programme and they had predicted before the election that if Maithri won it would be the victory of the LTTE.
He said that they pressed the government to accept that the LTTE was raising its head again and requested Mahinda Rajapaksa to return to politics to protect the country.
According to these Sinhalese ultra-supremacists the creation of a federal government is around the corner. Mahinda Rajapaksa should be made the prime minister to save the country from the clutches of the Western forces. The LTTE will regroup and resume their demand for Thamil Eelam. We know these are all imaginary fears bordering fantasy. Even if the oppression of the Thamils continue unabated, it will take another 25 years for anyone to take arms against the state. For people to take up arms, there must be present historically concrete social, economic and political conditions for the birth of insurgencies.
So it is incumbent on our part to allay the fears of the Sinhalese people that Thamils don’t want separation, though they have solid historical facts in support for a separate state. What the TNA which represents the majority of Thamil people and their only authentic voice is demanding maximum autonomy within a united and undivided Ceylon for the North and East.
This government has also promised to bring about a new political culture, good governance, the rule of law, human rights, elimination of corruption, nepotism, waste of government funds etc. If these lofty principles are implemented both the Thamils and Sinhalese stand to benefit. Lack of good governance has led to insurgencies, sectarian violence, conflict and absence of law and order.
Thamils now have to repose trust and confidence on the government led by president Maithripala Sirisena. Unlike Rajapaksa who treated the Thamils with the arrogance of a conqueror, president Maithripala Sirisena’s voice is that of reason in a storm of illogical emoting and communal frenzy.
There are already signs, though slow in coming, the government is easing some of the pressing problems faced by the Thamils like return of 1,000 acres out of 6,382 acres of land grabbed by the army in Valikaamam North which was used to build swimming pools, luxury hotels, presidential mansions, health resorts etc.
The government has partially restored civilian administration in the North and East and police powers vested on the army under under section 12 of the Public Security Ordinace has been annulled. The army mis-used these powers to harass, intimidate and bully Thamil civilians. The government is also taking steps to release Thamil political prisoners languishing in jails for decades without inquiry or charges. A youth arrested in Batticaloa when he was 17 is now 35 years old. His entire life as a youth has been wasted in the jail and there are hundreds like him!
The people who got choked under the family dictatorship are now breathing freely without the atmosphere of intimidation and fear in their daily life. Mahinda Rajapaksa used coercive force including military power against unarmed people engaged in legitimate political protests. He treated the Thamil people shabbily robbing them of their self respect and dignity. Jeyakumary Baldendran who joined demonstrations organized by the relatives of disappeared with his missing son’s photo taken in a rehabilitation camp was arrested by the police and the army almost a year ago. She is still languishing in Boosa prison without inquiry or charges. Her case gets postponed because the Police say inquiries are not completed. It was a vindictive and arbitrary arrest by a politicised Police to silence those who were exercising their democratic right to protest. Democracy means as much about protecting the rights of even the smallest of minorities.
Under Mahinda Rajapaksa’s dispensation arrests, detentions, abductions and torture were common occurrences and alleged perpetrators got away scot-free if they were loyal to the government. Ironically enough, it is in the post war period that armed forces increasingly perpetrating crimes with an astounding degree of impunity. If not for the regime change and had Mahinda Rajapaksa continued in power till 2022, his government would have reduced the entire Thamil population to the status of Jews under Nazi Hitler. Arresting and jailing Thamil people at the drop of a hat claiming they were supporters of LTTE terrorist organization was the norm under Rajapaksa’s regime.
The Mahavamsa, the Bible of Sinhala Buddhism, describes how Duttu Gemunu was in repentance over millions of lives lost in war with Ellalan. “How shall there be any comfort for me, O Venerable sirs since by me was caused the slaughter of a great host numbering millions?” The Arahats replied “From these deeds arises no hindrance in they way to heaven. Only one and a half human beings have been slain here by thee, O lord of men unbelievers and men of evil life were they, not more to be esteemed than beasts….”
Mahinda Rajapaksa suffers from the same Mahavamsa mind set and considers Thamils not more to be esteemed than beasts!
Thamils must at least of self interest join forces with the progressive and moderate sections of the Sinhalese represented by president Mahinda Rajapaksa to thwart attempts to reinstate Mahinda Rajapaksa to power. For this purpose they will use the communal card more intensively in future. Mahinda Rajapaksa’s message that “Even now the power has not gone out of Sinhalese from the government” indicates he will campaign on a platform Sinhalese Vs Thamils.
It is now certain Mahinda Rajapaksa intend to come back raising the battle cry “Not for Prime Minister but for Sinhalese and Buddhism!”