By Granville Perera –
The inaugural presidential campaign meetings are over. President Rajapaksa, true to his style showed off his forced support or otherwise with a ground full of people. Pressured or otherwise, the human deluge that filled the Salgado grounds in Anuradhapura had no parallels.
United National Party (UNP) Member of Parliament and opposition firebrand Pelisge Harrison representing Anuradhapura on the national list claims that there were 1108 busses that transported an estimated 26,000 members of the Civil defence force and their families from the rural areas of Anuradhapura and surrounding districts. Social media is full of videos that shown this human avalanche descending on Salgado ground from government sponsored busses. What matters at the end of the day is that they were physically present and President Rajapaksa pulled off, yet another media spectacle.
Common Candidate, Maithripala Sirisena kicked off with multiple meetings but the crowd and glitter was no match to that of the President, Mahinda Rajapaksa. Yet, the mood of the majority of Sri Lankans seems optimistic and the confidence levels of the general public for a Sirisena presidency should be a cause for concern for the Rajapaksa camp. The governments attempt to ridicule his “Modi” jacket is ludicrous, I for one assume that he is wearing a specially made bullet proof vest fearing a Gotabaya sniper. We may know the truth behind the “Modi” jacket – some day!.
The beautiful Hirunika Premachandra, as expected switched on to the side of “Sirisena Maame” and vowed to provide justice to her dead father who was assassinated in a street brawl with fellow SLFPer and parliamentarian, Duminda Silva. Silva’s memory loss probably will not be reversed until Hirunika is on the saddle, to avenge her father’s murder. Hirunika probably doesn’t have a file with the president, but all indications are that she would have plenty of videos and photos of her modeling days in London, which the Government will unleash at the first opportunity. She too probably is in possession of good material of the presidential siblings and we certainly are destined to be entertained.
The present day Dutugamunu, who got totally rejected by Maithripala Sirisena despite several attempts to reach out to the common opposition lashed out at a journalist with his choices words, denying his attempt to join the Maithri camp.
His verbal diatribe in typical style was full of filth aimed at Maithripala Sirisena.
The uncultured and filthy mouthed Minister of Higher Education, S B Dissanayake’s vulgur and despicable threat to undress President Chandrika Kumaratunga Bandaranaike, and chase her naked down the streets speaks volumes of the standards this uncouth minister could impart through our institutions of higher learning. It is time that legal action is instituted against this barbarian.
The mass scale expected crossovers did not take place and the general public is disappointed. Expectations were high for prominent government personalities to abandon the Rajapaksa clan and extend their support to the villager from Polonnaruwa who is promising a Parakarama era once again. Is it a temporary lull or an end of the road for cross overs to the opposition. The man behind the halt to cross overs is none other than Gotabaya Rajapaksa who has invested his time in talking in person to all the possible pole vaulters.
Rishard Badurdeen, the Minister of Industries exhorted his pound of flesh by getting everything that he could dream of, for not crossing over to the opposition. Amongst other goodies, he was rewarded with a national list slot in parliament for his close buddy, Ameer Ali after the fouled mouthed A H M Azwer resigned on the orders of President Mahinda Rajapaksa.
The Sri Lanka Muslim Congress (SLMC) in typical style has NOT made up their mind as to whom they should support at the forthcoming presidential election. This is consistent with the SLMC’s Hakeem strategy to get more than a pound of flesh. How much would the prime candidates cave in? All indications are that the common opposition has asked him to fly a kite. The Muslim community in all probability has decided to vote against the Mahinda Rajapaksa candidacy, and Rauf Hakeem, Rishard Badurdeen or Fouzie’s loyalty to anyone is immaterial. It is a disgrace to see the antics of the present day SLMC compared to the vision of the founder leader of the SLMC, M H M Asharaf. His quest to create harmony through the formation of his National Unity Alliance that he spearheaded in the last days of his life speaks volumes of his vision for a united postwar Sri Lanka.
Leaked information from the high command meetings of the Sri Lanka Muslim Congress indicate that Hakeem is fully supportive of the SLMC remaining with the Government while a majority of the members feel that it would be political suicide as their constituents have had enough of the onslaught by the Rajapaksa sponsored Buddhist extremists led by the disgraceful priest Gnanasara Thero of the Bodu Bala Sena.
The Bodu Bala Sena’s pledge to support the government after Maithripala rejected their offer of support is one of the primary reasons for the majority decision of the SLMC’s high command to keep away from the Rajapaksa administration. Their fear is that the nexus between the Defence Secretary, Gotabaya Rajapaksa and the Bodu Bala Sena has been clearly exposed with the declared support to president Mahinda Rajapaksa by Gnanasara Thero.
The minority vote certainly would be the deciding factor and in the absence of concerted effort by President Rajapaksa to reach out to the minorities, it could cost him his third term as presidency