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Asian Tribune is published by World Institute For Asian Studies|Powered by WIAS Vol. 12 No. 2791

Beleaguered Yahapalanaya regime brings in heavy artillery: Enter the Field Marshal

By Raj Gonsalkorale

Sri Lankan political scene resembles a jungle in disarray. It appears that a no holds barred battle is on for the survival of the fittest. There is President Sirisena, obviously keen on being the King of the jungle now, and beyond his self-declared one term Presidency, surrounded by some who resembles cunning Foxes waiting to see which side is winning.

Then there is Prime Minister Ranil Wickremasinghe who is playing second fiddle for the moment, having learnt from his erstwhile uncle that everything comes to he who waits, and then there is the wounded former Lion, Mahinda Rajapaksa, now showing strong signs he has recovered from his wounds and is ready to fight, even to the end.

Mr Sirisena’s ambitions are very clear to anyone with even a modicum of intelligence. He surely would not want control of the SLFP if he wished to do what is right for the country if he was just a one term President. In fact he would have served the country well had he taken the high moral ground and worked with all parties and personalities to do just what his Yahapalanaya manifesto promised. Instead, he has joined the grubby political battle and has steadily lost even the little credibility he had after he double crossed his leader he was with for 9 years as a cabinet minister and the secretary of the SLFP.

Ranil Wickremasinghe has never hidden his ambition or intentions. At least on that score he has to be given his due. His smothering of his party to make sure he remained as its leader, and outmaneuvering the political lightweight and pretender Sajith Premadasa, showed not just his skill but his single minded ambition to be the number one in Sri Lanka. The Sirisena led camp provided an unwanted and strategically foolish proverbial ladder to a jumping Monkey (no disrespect is meant to Mr Wickremasinghe).

Mr Sirisena and his platform is only a stepping stone for Mr Wickremasinghe. He must be counting the days for the SLFP to break up as that would give him the opportunity to strike for the number one spot. It’s just a matter of time before this happens.

What of Mahinda Rajapaksa? He certainly has a gathering momentum especially in the hinterland where a bulk of the Sri Lankan electorate lives and votes. The dilemma for him is the direction his supporters are heading and the risks associated with a breakup of the SLFP. Statistically, there is no doubt that the winner of such a breakup will be the UNP, unless a sizable number of Elephants walk with Mr Rajapaksa.

The current regime has made the cardinal mistake of placing the economy of the country behind considerations like a focus on a new Constitution that are of mundane importance at best, to the majority of the people of the country.

Seriously, a majority of people in South East Asian countries, including India, have not benefitted from the Westminster system of governance. The majority of people in India are in dire poverty and democracy hasn’t meant much for them. If one looks at other countries in the region, it’s almost a joke to say they have functioning democracies in the Westminster spirit.

Whilst not belittling democracy, the focus of the present regime should have been the economy. It is no secret that the economy of the country is in the doldrums. Even supporters of the UNP say that. They could have won the hearts of the people by making sure they had food in their stomachs, some money in their pockets and a future for them and their children.

This not being the case, the person who would benefit most from this situation would be Mahinda Rajapaksa as he has the ear of the hinterland and he has his feet firmly on the ground in the territory that is suffering most from the downturn in the economy. He also has a record to boast about that during the last 5 years of his tenure, the country witnessed unprecedented economic growth.

No doubt the President and the Prime Minister knows this, and hence their no holds barred attacks on Mahinda Rajapaksa. They have done their utmost to target him, his family and his supporters and discredit him by attacking his credibility as an honest leader who delivered peace and economic growth.

Until allegations against him and his family and his supporters are proven, they are all naturally innocent and till enough evidence is found to charge him and his family, Mr Rajapaksa can ride the high ground and turn the tide away from him and towards those who are attacking him.

Although the regime denies a political vendetta is going on, many are of the opinion that there is one as no one except a Rajapakse or a supporter has been questioned or arrested. The structure of and the powers given to the numerous investigative bodies appear to be highly questionable and even unconstitutional and illegal. Unfortunately, these very reasons might result in some guilty persons going scot free when the normal investigative bodies and the country’s justice system would have convicted those who might have been guilty.

In the environment the two Rajapaksa antagonists are in, they have now decided to bring some heavy artillery to destroy the one unquestionable area where Mahinda Rajapaksa and his brother Gotabaya Rajapaksa has undisputed credibility.

That is the defeat of LTTE terrorism and winning the final war against them.

While there is no doubt that Field Marshall Fonseka also played a major part in beating the LTTE, and also that he was treated shabbily by the Rajapaksa regime, there cannot be any doubt that even with his best efforts, Mr Fonseka would have won the war had Mahinda Rajapakse not been the President and Gotabaya Rajapakse not been the Defense Secretary and the brains behind the defeat.

Even better soldiers than Mr Fonseka failed in the past because they did not have leaders at the helm to provide the political support and the guts to take on the LTTE and sections of the international community who supported them.

The Rajapaksa brothers could have found another Army Commander to take on the battle, but Mr Fonseka could not have found another President or a Defense Secretary to give him the backing he got to take on the LTTE in a no holds barred battle.

The only reason to bring the Field Marshall to Parliament and very definitely give him a plum ministry, is to begin the process of discrediting Mahinda & Gotabaya Rajapaksa with Goebbelsian propaganda, in the one area where they are held in very high esteem by an overwhelming majority of Sri Lankans.

The country will be witnessing the unfolding of this strategy and an attack on the Lion who has recovered and has taken on the other two vying to be the King of the jungle.

- Asian Tribune -

Beleaguered Yahapalanaya regime brings in heavy artillery: Enter the Field Marshal
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