By Hilmy Ahamed –
The call by the ex-socialist turned ultra capitalist, Wimal Weerawansa for an unholy alliance of the left to support the candidature of President Mahinda Rajapaksa to be the Prime Ministerial candidate at the next parliamentary elections could be the real threat to good governance and rule of law initiated by the Maithri–Ranil nexus to steer the country out of corruption, nepotism and all forms of misrule that existed during the last decade under the Rajapaksa regime. The threat could be real when one takes in to consideration the desperate predicament of some of Rajapaksa’s cronies in parliament, who may not even get nominations from the SLFP under a Maithri/Chandrika leadership. The need to safeguard their ill-gotten wealth is probably the cause for their strategic move to promote Mahinda Rajapaksa to the fore as a Sinhala Buddhist leader who would safeguard the interest of the Sinhalese. Sri Lankans are well aware of the antics of these corrupt and unethical political animals, and Mahinda too would be reluctant to gamble, knowing the possible outcome of another failure. The new guard SLFP would never want to go back to another Rajapaksa nepotism. The current opposition leader, Nimal Siripala de Silva has reached his dream position of heading the opposition and a possible Prime Ministerial candidature. He would not entertain any proposal that would drive him back to insignificance; So, Nimal Siripala would be Maithri-Ranil’s best bet to keep Rajapaksa in retirement at Medamulana. It is yet to be seen whether extremist Buddhist forces would attempt to bring Gotabaya Rajapaksa to the fore and continue their campaign of hate. Some of them have claimed in the past that they have selected their candidate to take over from Mahinda Rajapaksa. Could Gotabaya be the genie that would pop out of Aladdin’s lamp to save the Bodu Bala Sena and other extremists?
The leftist’s firebrands of Sri Lanka, who were once considered the custodians of good governance concepts have shed their red blood and infused themselves with dark blue. They see no evil or corruption amongst the Rajapaksa clan. They obviously are fighting for their political survival and seem to already miss the privileged perks enjoyed under the Rajapaksa regime. Opportunistic politicians of the caliber of Weerawansa could be expected to hide behind sheep’s skin, but the likes of Dinesh Gunawardena, Vasudeva Nanayakkara, Tissa Vitarana and DEW Gunasekera are the biggest disappointment. These four real leftists were probably not corrupt; hence they may not posses the resources to retire and survive out of political office.
The huge public demand to fast-track investigations in to the corruption and misrule of the Rajapaksa regime is unprecedented, yet it is important to put in place mechanisms that would ensure that the Rajapaksa form of corruption would never be repeated in the country that our children would inherit. The Maithri-Ranil duo would have to quickly spring a surprise on the leftist nexus that is building up to pose a threat to the government’s commitment to democracy. It is time to confine these (former) firebrands into cold storage, forever. Failure would encourage racism and communalism to thrive as seen from their approach, including the remarks by President Mahinda Rajapaksa insinuating that this government is a proxy of Tamil/Minority separatist groups. This remark alone has rejuvenated the dying Bodu Bala Sena in to action.
The Bodu Bala Sena’s Galagoda Aththe Gnanasara Thero’s attempts to forge an alliance with other Sinhala Buddhist forces including the Jathika Hela Urumaya should be a cause for concern to the Maithri-Ranil administration which is already showing signs of cracking. President Mahinda Rajapaksa probably would not touch them with a barge pole, as they were architects of his defeat at the Presidential elections of January 2015. The extremist Buddhist monk, Galagoda Aththe Gnanasara Thero and his compatriot and Chief Executive Officer of the Bodu Bala Sena, Dilanthe Withanage probably would have a place in history when narratives of the fall of the Rajapaksa empire is recorded.
Re-emergence of their hate campaign on the minorities, that was encouraged and allowed to be undertaken with impunity by the then Rajapaksa government would probably have no place under the Maithri-Ranil administration. The two leaders are fully aware that the single most important factor that made the Muslims and Christians to overwhelmingly vote against President Mahinda Rajapaksa was the violence and pogrom unleashed by the Bodu Bala Sena. The assumption of former President Mahinda Rajapaksa that he could win without minority votes that proved to be his downfall, would certainly be in the minds of Maithri and Ranil.
While corruption, nepotism and breakdown in law and order were of equal concern to all communities; the fear and helplessness experienced by the Muslim and Christian communities due to the intimidation of the Ven. Gnanasara’s clan cannot be expressed in mere words. Today, they are able to sleep in peace as the fear of powerful persons who were behind these extremists are no more. Their numerous attacks on the places of religious worship and businesses would not have gone unchallenged, if the minorities felt that they had recourse to justice. Further, their attempts on two occasions to invade and threaten Muslims in their own bastions of Grandpass and Slave Island would have caused a repeat of the 1983 rioting if not for the timely intervention of the Muslim religious, political and civil society leadership. The few who attacked could have been surrounded by thousands of Muslims who reside in these areas that could have caused another major blemish on Sri Lanka.
The Muslims and the Christian minorities voted for President Maithripala Sirisena in unprecedented numbers expecting him to re-establish the rule of law in the country and ensure peaceful co-existence. There were deep concern over the partnership of the Jathika Hela Urumaya in the coalition of the common candidate, but the stand taken by Ven. Athuraliye Rathana Thero and Ven. Sobitha Thero provided the necessary confidence for the minorities to stand by the common candidate. If only 200,000 voters from the Tamil, Muslim and Christian minorities had voted in favour of President Mahinda Rajapaksa, the dreams and destiny of Maithri, Ranil and the country would have been shattered.
It is time that President Sirisena and Prime Minister comes out boldly and silences these anti-social elements who thrive on causing divisions between communities for their selfish motives and destroy the peace.