By Nishthar Idroos –
“Veni, vidi, vici” (I came , I saw, I conquered) a classical Latin phrase: Its popular usage reportedly originates from a letter Julius Caesar wrote to Roman Senate around 46 BC, in the city of Zela (now in Tokat Province, Turkey), after achieving victory in his short war against Pharnaces II of Pontus at the Battle of Zela. The phrase is used to refer to a swift, conclusive victory. Our hero today though not even remotely related to Julies Caesar earned a swift and emphatic victory in the recently concluded Presidential election in Sri Lanka, palpably heralding a new era for the people. It was a historical triumph. People were relieved and happy at the turn of events and it was evident in their faces. Pallewatte Gamaralalage Maithripala Yapa Sirisena is his name and hails from the rustic and emerald countryside. He is a product of Polonnaruwa Thopa Vidyalaya and Polonnaruwa Royal College. Born to a family engaged in farming. Here is a guy who unmistakably and authentically fit the idiom and character of mother Lanka unless God forbid he becomes a victim of his own Chintanafication.
He was given less than two months to plan and execute a suitable course of action to become the next ruler. Though the time afforded was pitifully inadequate the man had little choice. Amidst a multitude of constraints and a socio-political milieu favouring the opponent he had to initiate his planning process against many odds. He had to do everything right and in utmost secrecy. A single mistake could have irreparable consequences. Assistance and good counsel was readily forthcoming from allies and well wishers. Collectively did they rise to the occasion and marshalled resources according to a set plan. When battle lines were drawn Maithripala Sirisena unleashed his marauding warriors to fight. Fight they did with a strange cornucopia of arsenal. He led them by example and extended able and charismatic leadership till the very end. It was reminiscent of the biblical battle between David and Goliath as told in the book of Samuel. His opponent’s immersion in murky waters contaminated with extravagance, corruption, inequity and conceit afforded Maithripala to craft an acceptable and unobjectionable product untainted and unharmed. He doubtless stood as the most suitable candidate clean, tolerant, inclusive and with loads of ”Maithri”
He may have not lithographed a million pamphlets with a zillion well crafted lies for public consumption and calling it “Maithri Chintaniya” nor did he enroll the services of servile demagogues notorious to shriek and scream from their ever expanding and contacting esophagi. There was no such need because he was reasonably well endowed with the realities confronting his people. As someone who trod mother earth more often than those who flew over, he was acutely aware of the day to day issues countenanced by the general folk. He showed a profound distaste for the general retinues that came with high office. Simplicity was a hallmark of the man. Some wise guy once said “Simplicity is the outcome of profound thought” He has already indicated that he’ll only be a one term President. He’s not an actor and need not be the cynosure of all eyes. He is a man touched by the essence of Buddhism and fully understands the need of peaceful co-existence. Maybe his parents had more than one reason to name him Maithri. He’s his own man, responded to a call and the people affirmed him. The 63-year-old farmer from the rajarata made vociferous jihad to “end the pernicious Rajapaksa family rule” and romped home victorious
His opponent was no push-over. Mahinda Rajapaksa and his administration were responsible for comprehensively defeating the LTTE. He became an unrivalled hero overnight as a result. He was a colossus in every sense of the word. Allocated a bizarre if not extraordinary “discreet” spending budget for his third term. Some even wondered whether Santa was in town busy doing a lot of overtime work! Its rumoured legislators were offered as much as a billion rupees to switch loyalty. Mahinda Rajapaksa who was born in Weeraketiya in the southern rural district of Hambantota achieved monumental stardom after defeating the LTTE. He knew from the very outset that his challenger was quite formidable. Mahinda Rajapaksa hailed from a well known political family in Sri Lanka. His father D. A. Rajapaksa a prominent politician of an era gone by. Wearing the earthy brown shawl sure gave him subtle differentiation and visual brand identity. For one thing he was easily recognizable in a crowd and enjoyed his celebrity status.
How the son of a World War II veteran pulled it off is still a mystery to many. Sirisena was once jailed on suspicion of leading a revolt against the government in 1971. He also escaped an assassination attempt by the Tamil Tigers. The 63-year-old farmer-turned-politician wearing a Modi-style waistcoat had become a favourite rallying point for discontented and dissatisfied Sri Lankans, especially the minorities who overwhelmingly voted for his success. Never, ever in the history of presidential elections had the minorities stood so united against the incumbent. The end of the Rajapaksa family rule is being watched with pregnant expectation. The minorities want the new President to keep a check on racist elements that use the craft to further their own political agenda whilst stoking communal flame. For sure the minorities they want inter-alia their dignity. The honor of a people is in their their dignity. We are confident Maithripal Sirisena will address all these issues and remain victorious.