Sri Lanka in the shadow of two scheming giants
Posted on April 15th, 2012

The following is an edited texst of the speech delivered by H. L. D. Mahindapala at the Royal Asiatic Society last week.

Let me locate our position in the geo-political map to understand where we are right now and to find out whether there is a way out.

Today we are in a position where we have never been before. Never in the history of Sri Lanka has this nation been caught in the naked power struggles of big powers as in the 19th session of the UNHRC in Geneva. Never in its history had foreign powers ganged up, from the East and the West jointly, to squeeze Sri Lanka until perhaps it cracks at the center, or caves in to their will. Never in its history have two big powers stepped in uninvited, against the will of Sri Lanka, to dictate terms to Sri Lanka jointly and aggressively as in Geneva.

The advent of Western intervention began with the arrival of the Portuguese. But the Portuguese, Dutch and the British were “invitees”, if you can call it that, of the Sinhalese sovereigns whose sole intention was to exploit the foreigners’ fire power for their internal security and political gain. This time in Geneva it was different. This time two big powers “”…” US and India — maneuvered their way, through sheer power of their might and through soft spots in the UN system to impose their interventionist roles in Sri Lanka.  Sri Lanka which was also insulated against the overwhelming pressures of the Cold War is now caught right in the middle of Big Brother politics where India and America have launched a joint operation to pressure Sri Lanka from their two ends.  We are now forced to live in the shadow of two big scheming powers which are ruthlessly bent on forcing their will upon Sri Lanka.

Of course, during the 33-year-old war the international community did get involved in Sri Lankan affairs but it was always at the invitation of Sri Lanka. Sri Lanka “invited” India to come in even though it was done at the point of a gun. India came in with the IPKF and the Indo-Sri Lanka Agreement. When India failed Sri Lanka asked the West to come in and Norway stepped in at the invitation of GOSL. The four co-Chairs “”…” EU, US, Japan and Norway “”…” produced the Ceasefire Agreement and that too flopped.

The pincer movement from the East and the West came after the failure of the big powers “”…” India and the co-Chairs — to restore peace and reconciliation on the ground. Two factors are noticeable in this failed background: 1. it is the identical forces of the West and India that failed to produce a solution to the war that is raising their heads now to prescribe recipes for peace. 2. it should also be noted that the East-West joint attack came after the lesser forces in the West failed in their bid to force Sri Lanka to surrender to their will.

The Western forces initiated their aggressive and assertive interventions when the British Foreign Minister, David Milliband, and his French counterpart, Richard Kouchner, stepped in to stop the Sri Lankan offensive in its last stages. It is a move comparable to the foreign minister of Japan rushing into the office of Churchill to stop World War II when he was on the verge of crushing Hitler.

Just before Milliband arrived here he told his Labour Party colleagues that he was spending 60% of his time on Sri Lanka, according to Wikileaks. After their repeated failures on the ground in Sri Lanka the Western powers shifted their battle ground to the international arena. But the medium they picked is also significant. They picked the UNHRC, the most convenient and the softest spot through which they could pin down Sri Lanka.  They could not move against Sri Lanka in the Security Council where they could not go pass China to have their way.  So they sneaked in through the UNHRC “”…” the backdoor. To creep in through the backdoor doesn’t speak much for two big powers like US and India “”…” and that too after two failed attempts earlier at the UNHRC.  The West failed to win in 2009 and 2011. It was in the third attempt in 2012 that they succeeded “”…” and that too with America and India throwing their mightiest weight to corner tiny Sri Lanka. It was a pathetic case of Big Brothers firing cannons to target flies.

In a crowded international agenda where multifarious issues of greater import are at stake to preserve and protect the security, stability and global peace the country-specific US-Indian Resolution focusing on Sri Lanka is completely out of proportion to the needs, or the realities of the times. On any scale of morality there is no earthly reason why the West and their new Indian “strategic partner” in the east should selectively target Sri Lanka.  Yes, there were lapses on the part of the Sri Lankan government. Yes, the Sri Lankan government mishandled some issues. Yes, Sri Lanka did not work to the time table set by US and India. But these are not crimes that deserve to be hauled up before the UNHRC particularly when the Big Brothers get away with crimes against humanity and war crimes repeatedly and with impunity.

The clear pattern of the West’s diplomatic maneuvers in the international forums reveals convincingly their anti-Sri Lankan mindset determined to punish Sri Lanka for not dancing to their drum beat. The initial moves were made in the UN where the West was manipulating to put Sri Lanka on the UN agenda in the last days of the counter-terrorist campaign. Sri Lankan diplomats, with the backing of China, managed to keep it out of the Security Council. When they failed at the UN they shifted their battleground to the UNHRC. They did not need any moral principles, or Darusman report or the LLRC report to go to UNHRC. Nor did it take long for them to move against Sri Lanka. Within weeks of the counter-terrorist campaign ending in 2009 they made their first move to accuse Sri Lanka of violating international humanitarian law. It was naked diplomatic aggression against a nation that had fought a just war to eliminate one of the most ruthless terrorist organizations that had killed more Tamils than all the other forces “”…” including the IPKF “”…” put together.

Ever since the first resolution was brought up in UNHRC in 2009, with Navi Pillay making her appearance on the in-house screen, demanding that the UNHRC should take punitive action against Sri Lanka, the West never gave up their campaign against Sri Lanka. As events have proved the use of the LLRC was just another excuse to beat the householders with an instrument found in the kitchen. It is not the violations of the international humanitarian law, or the failure of the GOSL to implement the LLRC within a specified time, or the unwillingness or the incapacity of the GOSL to move towards reconciliation that provoked the US-Indian Resolution. The Western agenda was to get Sri Lanka from day one. With each successive Resolution in 20011 and 2012 they merely shifted their line of attack using whatever report came their way and without shifting one inch from their main objective of targeting Sri Lanka.

Going by their unrelenting anti-Sri Lankan line it apparent that the US-Indian Resolution of 2012 would have come with or without the LLRC. The West that was beaten twice before was not going to stop until it got its pound of flesh. Having failed twice before US was given the task of leading the attack at UNHRC in 2012. The Indians stabbing Sri Lanka in the back at the last minute gave the finishing touches to the scheming politics of both powers. So to blame the GOSL alone is not only unfair but a gross distortion of the realities faced by Sri Lanka at the hands of the Big Brothers pretending to be brotherly towards Sri Lanka.

This unwavering one-track behavioural pattern of the West, aided and abetted by our Indian Big Brother, confirms that their anti-Sri Lankan offensive was not driven by morality, or international humanitarian law, or concern for the Tamils of the north and east, or reconciliation, or peace, or even their own historical experiences of wars conducted by them for building their nation (as seen in the case of America) or peace in Europe. I shall come to these aspects by and by. But first let me deal briefly with the US Resolution amended at the last minute by India. It is thrust upon Sri Lanka as a solution to the problems related to  (1),  human rights; (2) the Tamils of the north and the east (3) peace and reconciliation in Sri Lanka and (4) meet the challenges faced by Sri Lanka. It is also craftily pegged on the LLRC though it condemns the report for not addressing “allegations that LLTTE cadres and Sri Lankan Security Forces violated international humanitarian laws, international human rights laws during the final months of the conflict.”(Report of Stepphen J. Rapp, Ambassador-at-Large in the Office of Global Criminal Justice at the State Department to Congress.) Despite this failure of the LLRC to address some of the fundamental issues that concern the West they are not unhappy to use it as a weapon against Sri Lanka.  Any stick or stone is good enough to whack Sri Lanka.

Now that we have come through the tensions, pressures and the diplomatic maneuvers at the UNHRC it is necessary to review the entire saga with a few salient questions:

1.      Was the US Resolution, amended at the last minute by India, the “strategic partner” of US in the east, necessary at all “”…” particularly as a solution to peace and reconciliation in Sri Lanka? Or has this Resolution exacerbated the process leading to peace and reconciliation?

2.      Was this international intervention the only means of dealing with peace, reconciliation and human rights violations in Sri Lanka? Also in known human experience is it possible to resolve issues leading to peace and reconciliation within three months of the publication of the recommendations?

3.      If not for whose agenda was it necessary? Was it necessary for the people of Sri Lanka or was it a prime requirement for the movers of the Resolution to reinforce and consolidate their command in the Indian Ocean to protect their shipping lanes, their trade and strategic interests?

4.      Besides, if UN / UNHRC resolutions are the means of resolving issues in conflict zones why haven’t the numerous resolutions passed by these bodies solved the nagging crises from Kashmir to Palestine “”…” two issues on the UN agenda from day one?

5.      Or is this a tactical move to keep Sri Lanka listed in the UN agenda for future use, particularly for US and India to use it against Sri Lanka in case it moves too close to China?

6.      Or is this US-India Resolution a cynical exercise to “teach Sri Lanka a lesson” for stepping out of line with the political agenda of the Big Brothers?

These are some of the issues that the Minster for External Affairs, G. L. Peiris, will have to bear in the mind when he meets Secretary of State Hillary Clinton on May 18. This meeting is vital to figure out the US-Indian agenda because the two Big Brothers have bonded together in Geneva to force Sri Lanka to implement “”…” no not the LLRC “”…” but their agenda, particularly 13 plus, by using the LLRC as a stick to beat Sri Lanka. Geneva was, of course, a diplomatic coup to the two Big Brothers. But the hidden political agenda of the US-India Resolution will be revealed only at this meeting. Hilary Clinton will be all smiles and charm to convince G. L. Peiris that America had the best interests of Sri Lanka in moving the Resolution. But more importantly, Hilary will try to lord it over G. L. Peiris because she is now armed with the US-Indian Resolution. Both US and India argue that their interest is to promote reconciliation, peace by restoring dignity to the Tamils by implementing the 13th Amendment. She will also insist on a time frame.

It is at this point that she must be reminded of American history, which the Americans invokes ad nauseam when it suits their domestic needs and jettisons it when it doesn’t suit their foreign policies. America’s Resolution should be unacceptable to all Americans because it denies the dynamic forces of Americana history that determined and defined the essence and the substance of the United States of America. America became the “united states” after the liberal north defeated the slave-owning fascist culture of the south. The highest amount of American casualties (750,000, according to the latest revised figures) was recorded in the four-year Civil War (1861 “”…” 1865). Though the wounds of the Civil War still bleed in some parts of the Bible Belt in the south a whole new nation emerged stronger than before by quelling violent separatist politics. It was a just war even though the casualties were high. It was a war that America had to have to define it as a united nation.

Besides, post-war recovery and reconciliation in America did not take place as speedily as stipulated by America in Sri Lanka. Apart from the bitter memories of the northern and southern whites the blacks too experienced the horrors of the white man’s oppressive discrimination even after they were officially liberated, Abraham Lincoln announced the Proclamation of Emancipation in 1863. But the implementation of that Proclamation took over a century to restore dignity, equality and liberty to the Afro-Americans in the land of the free. This sketch is drawn not to expose the hypocrisy of American politics but to point out that American historical experiences should guide America to a more enlightened appreciation of a nation recovering from a 33-year-old.

Finally, let me deal with the main charge of the Sri Lanka not making any substantial moves to advance towards peace and reconciliation. This is a serious charge if it is true. But the ground situation is vastly different from the grim picture painted by the NGOs and their masters in the West and the wild accusations leveled against Sri Lanka.

Let me deal with one of the main issues raised by the Western, Indian and NGO sources. The biggest accusation was that 40,000 Tamil civilians were killed by the advancing Security Forces. The exponential growth of this figure is not substantiated by the facts on the ground. To begin with no one has counted the dead bodies to back up this figure of 40,000. Besides, the figure quoted originally by Gordon Weiss, the UN representative in Sri Lanka before he left the job and went back to Australia is 7,000. London Time’s correspondent who flew over Mullativu plucked figures from the air and claimed a figure of 20, 000. Weiss goes to Australia and decides to write a book for which he had to inflate the figures and he arrived at a total of 40,000. A pro-Tamil American professor came up with a figure of 50,000. Tamil websites hit a new high with a figure of 100,000. But the growing consensus has settled on a figure of 40,000.

Is this true? The GOSL made one wise move to determine the figure as close as possible to actual deaths. It hired Tamil teachers, Tamil public servants and other available Tamil hands in the north and the east and sent them from house-to-house to make a sensible count. This count was conducted by the Census and Statistics Department and the results are posted on its website. The final figure as revealed by this survey is 6858. There could be a margin of error which,however, is not likely to vary vastly the census figure. But this story has not been told to the world. What is touted and accepted generally is the figure of 40,000. So how can there be reconciliation when facts are replaced by fiction? Truth is vital for reconciliation and until the GOSL refines its media machinery the negative narrative will dominate the public discourse.

This census is also linked the census of the north and east which is now complete. This prepares the electoral register for provincial council elections, almost after 30 years. The population of the Tamils in the north is now estimated to be slightly above 900,000 in round figures. The census figures which have sizeable political, social and economic consequences is a vital step towards assessing the needs of the Tamil people. The facts and figures in it can be considered as a step towards understanding the new realities particularly by dispelling the cobwebs that cloud the north-south debate.

Take also the case of the 300,000 IDPs that descended on the back of the Government like an avalanche. Overnight they shot into global headlines though there are 21 million IDPs scattered in various parts of conflict zones. Of this 21 million IDPs only the Tamil IDPs caught the attention of global media. Predictably, the negative stories of Menik Farm hit the headlines, overshadowing the positive stories that had brought relief to the victims of Prabhakaran’s human shield. What is left now in Menik Farm is around 5,000 IDPs and that too because some of them do not want to go back fearing the land mines and other obstacles in their way. Is this a step towards reconciliation? And does this achievement qualify the GOSL to be brought up before the UNHRC for not taking speedy action?

Consider the steps taken with regard to 11, 500 combatants. This figure has come down to 635. There are 635 in detention in Boosa camp. Also there are 200 in judicial custody. Over 10,500 ex-combatants have been sent home. Is this for reconciliation or confrontation?

There are 53 NGOs operating in Jaffna.  There are 2582 Tamil police officers in 368 functionary divisions. An affirmative action plan has been introduced to give easy access to jobs in the public service to Tamils only, violating the principle of equality enshrined in the constitution. In the last three years 789 public servants have been recruited to run the administration in the north and the east. Was this evidence of willingness and capacity to reconcile taken into consideration when the US-Indian Resolution was moved in Geneva?

GOSL has provided economic incentives for the the growth and agriculture and fishing “”…” both of which are thriving on a promising scale.

The Government is investing billions in the development of the north and the east. The government is committed to build 78,144 house of which 27,893 have already been completed. It has secured $5 billion for reconstruction. The reconstruction of the infrastructure is happening on an accelerated plan. Harbours, railways, roads, schools, hospitals have been renovated and/or constructed in the north and east.

Militarization is another charge leveled against the government. There are two main arguments that debunks this issue. First, World War II ended in 1945. Yet American bases are still maintained in Okinawa and Germany despite sporadic protests from the people against American GIs. Second, the presence of the military in the north and the east is least obtrusive. Besides no government can risk withdrawing its forces from an area where there are 11,500 combatants on the loose. British forces are still hanging around in North Ireland.  Their presence is for the security of all communities.

As for the 258 recommendations contained in the LLRC they have been broken down into four categories: 1. National policies 2. Final phase of conflict 3. National Security concerns and 4. Resettlement and development. The Cabinet and the public service are fully engaged in handling  these issues though it may not be publicized or done according to the US-Indian timetable.

Without going into further details this outline should be sufficient to debunk the massive propaganda war waged against Sri Lanka. From the start we had to face two fronts: 1. The military front on the ground and 2. The propaganda front waged by the Tamil diaspora aligned to academia, media, churches, NGOs etc. abroad. We won on the military front at home. But we are facing the consequences of the government failure to win the propaganda war abroad. The government policy of hiring Satchi & Satchi of Bellinger is not the answer. The government has to place the propaganda warfare on the same footing as the war waged on the ground. This campaign needs new generals and not the pundits and the spokespersons who are neither competent nor trained to fight the propaganda war.

There are, of course, a variety of issues related to the plight in which we are right now which I have left out. These I presume can be explored during question time. What has to be recognized in the coming days is that we are the cross-roads of a situation that can grow out of hand if we do not handle it with courage and competence. There are many recipes recommended by many sources to solve the issues before us. Our main task is to the get the two Big Brothers off our back without surrendering to them totally.  Many factors will come in to play and how we manage the coming events confronting us will go a long way to determine the future of the nation.

14 Responses to “Sri Lanka in the shadow of two scheming giants”

  1. AnuD Says:

    [An affirmative action plan has been introduced to give easy access to jobs in the public service to Tamils only, violating the principle of equality enshrined in the constitution. ] This is govt backed Reverse Discrmination. Why did not he govt implement the same policy in South. Because Sinhala people are silent. They think they are the majority.

    [The government policy of hiring Satchi & Satchi of Bellinger is not the answer. ] These foreign consulting firms give hugh commissions to who find them business.

    [Was this international intervention the only means of dealing with peace, reconciliation and human rights violations in Sri Lanka? Also in known human experience is it possible to resolve issues leading to peace and reconciliation within three months of the publication of the recommendations? ]

    For me, this is where two ideologies, middle eastern – judeo-christian thinking has won over the asian accommodating always showing compassion to the other kind of ideology. Sinhala people are continuously losing in that. Because, governing politicians are not brave or strong. They are just there for politics. So, they satisfy those cry out loud and who seem to be stronger. If our politicians were there, Israel would have never been established. IF they were there Cuba would not be in the situation that they are in now and there are many examples now.

    No one is discussing how much the jailing of Fonseka was a factor in UNHCR resolution. Probably, that is the deleted or edited part.

  2. Naram Says:

    HLDM, This is an excellent presentaton. One should not forget the historical perspective that Western powers are well aware. One cannot forget that Sinhala nation is forged in blood. Many incursions to Senkadagala in the last 2 centuries that left trails of blood and massacre, Frederick North’s failed attempts in 1803 leaving many burnt down cities and villages, more massacres in Matale and Wellassa expropriations 1818 & 1848, ethnic cleansings. Incongruity is that now the same powers demand invastgations into human rights violations invertently made by Sri Lanka in the course of humanitarian operation carried out. This was an activity amidst LTTE aircraft bombing Colombo, massive stocks of ammunition still being trasported by the likes of Father Nagulan and bombs seteven in Mosques in Akuressa. The folks who voted for theresolution are hiding their heads in sand.

    .

  3. Lorenzo Says:

    May be the best analysis on the matter.

    Well said, HLDM

    DESTROYING Tamil nationalism and humiliating it is the solution.

  4. Voice123 Says:

    Good points by HDLM. As part of this new propoganda war we need to start prosecuting LTTE war criminals in the West one by one, primarily people like Adele Balasingham. They should not be allowed to live their lives in peace and quiet after all the murders and massacres they did on our people. These could be the very first salvos of us fighting back. Why is nobody taking serious action about this? From personal observation, many Tamils will also join us in this endeavour because she has the blood of innocent Tamils on her hands also. What happened to the class action against the TNA by the way? Are we waiting for the government to do something as usual? If Sri Lankans privately organise against these treacherous LTTE war criminals in the West, a lot could be achieved. I, for one, would sacrifice and give hundreds or even thousands of dollars towards this objective if a serious and professional attempt was made.

  5. Lorenzo Says:

    India-China “balance” in SL need not be an equal one.

    May be 70%-30% in favour of China would be ideal.

    Or follow the ethnic percentages.
    Chingala (China) – 75% (Development work is MAINLY in Chingala areas)
    Thamil (India) – 15% (Development ONLY in Thamil areas).
    Islam (Pakistan) – 10% (Development MAINLY in Islam areas).

    China – 75%
    Pakistan – 10%
    Total – 85% (They are friends).

    India – 15%.

  6. douglas Says:

    The main topic that is under discussion, by these Big Powers is our own LLRC Report. As our Presieent siad, what right have they in “owning” this report? This expression must be carried with force and every Government Administration limb including the Partiament must be geared to carry that “slogan” from now ownwards. In short it should not be allowed to be “abducted”by these “bullies”.

    Of coourse we made a blunder at the start by asking these Big Powers to await the publication of the LLRC Report. But that does not necessarliy mean they have the final say or the commanding authority to “order” us to implement its recommendations. It is our country and its Legislature which have the authority over considering the recommendations and it’s implementation. Do we communicate that in clear language to the outside world?

    As stated by the author of this presentation, through the UNHRC, USA and India with the backing of other Big Powers have surreptitiously “abducted” the LLRC and are in the process of twisting the arms of S/L Government to destabilize the whole country. Their main mechanism will be to forster and develop a monster type “communal”or better called “Tribal” political structure in the North and East and divide the country to fullfil the aspirations of the TNA and give a dulicate key to South India.

    We hope Sr Lanka government will smell a rat in these manoeuvres.

  7. Leela Says:

    HLDM, you have done it brilliantly. And I hope MR is convinced of its rationality and GLP would take it thoughtfully. And particularly what is quoted below which I think is the most important part of the speech.

    “The government has to place the propaganda warfare on the same footing as the war waged on the ground. This campaign needs new generals and not the pundits and the spokespersons who are neither competent nor trained to fight the propaganda war.”
    Leela

  8. Vis8 Says:

    The west suddenly woke up to Sri Lanka after they discovered ‘campaign donations’ and “votes” are freely-availabe through the ltte-diaspora. Essentially, they are carrying out the intentions of the ltte, just for their own gain. This type of action will never stop as long as there is ‘politics’. All it matters is to get votes to get back in power.

    Sri Lanka will continue to be harassed and eventually a forced-entry of foreign forces is possible. Thanks HLD for this article. We need to stand up on our own, now. The question is, how?

  9. Vis8 Says:

    Time, HLD, for you to step in and lead the propaganda war.

  10. AnuD Says:

    [Of coourse we made a blunder at the start by asking these Big Powers to await the publication of the LLRC Report ]

    Even after 35 years of experience with India and IC was not enough and tried to make them happy.

  11. Nalliah Thayabharan Says:

    Rajiv Gandhi began to a show keen interest in evolving an acceptable political package to bring an end to the ethnic conflict in Sri Lanka to deflect attention from domestic issues. Rajiv Gandhi had been at the center of a heated political controversy since March, 1987. It all started with Assembly elections in Kerala, West Bengal and Jammu & Kashmir. In Kerala on March 23, 1987, the Congress-led coalition government was driven out of power by the leftist front, meaning that the opposition regional parties had now taken control of Andhra Pradesh, Tamil Nadu, Karnataka and Kerala. At the same time, Congress, under the leadership of Rajiv Gandhi, miserably failed to wrest power back from the communists in West Bengal, while Congress did manage to retain its hold in Jammu and Kashmir as junior partners.

    At this time, Finance Minister V.P.Singh was transferred to the Ministry of Defense by Rajiv Gandhi.

    In early March, the intelligence branch of the federal government raided the offices of the Indian Express newspaper. During the raid, the government stumbled on information that the Ministry of Finance had employed the services of a US consulting firm, the Fairfax Group, to investigate illegal offshore transactions of such distinguished business luminaries as the Bachchan brothers and textile magnate Dirrubhai Ambani.

    V.P.Singh admitted that the investigation had been undertaken under his authority, which prompted the Congress leaders and a section of the media to accuse him of selling national interests to foreign operatives closely linked with CIA of America. Never mind that the investigation was aimed at alleged economic crimes, and had nothing to do with security issues. Rajiv Gandhi tried to play down the seriousness of the issue by making it a subject of a closed-door examination.

    But the public impression lingered that, something fishy was going on. This impression was reinforced by V P Singh in his role as minister of defense. It was alleged that kickbacks, as much as 7 percent, had been solicited by Indian middlemen, on a US$340 million submarine order, placed with a West German shipyard during Indira Gandhi’s rule. Such commissions were banned under Indian law, and there was speculation that the alleged payments had been a kickback to the Congress ruling party.

    V.P.Singh ordered a fresh departmental probe into the scandal, when he took over the Defense portfolio. He did not notify either Rajiv Gandhi or the cabinet, which is customary procedure on launching such a probe. He only announced the investigation on the floor of parliament – the Lok Sabah – on April 9, 1987.

    Congress party leaders were quick to accuse the defense minister of a cheap publicity stunt, bent on grabbing media publicity without regard to cabinet or party procedures. On April 12, V.P.Singh resigned as defense minister over charges that, he had intended to malign and embarrass Rajiv Gandhi. V.P.Singh went as far as to proclaim his loyalty to Gandhi and to the party, when he announced his resignation.

    No sooner had the kickback scandal arisen than, Swedish radio broadcasters reported that Stockholm’s premier arms maker, BOFORS, had paid a $16 million commission into Swiss bank accounts of Indian middlemen to secure a $1.3 billion order for 400 howitzers.

    The allegation involving BOFORS targeted for investigation both Ajitab Bachchan and his brother Amitab Bachchan, a Congress member of parliament from the Alahabad constituency, in Uttar Pradesh. Rajiv Gandhi and Amitab Bachchan were childhood friends. The arms deal was consummated while Rajiv Gandhi had been Minister of Defense. He left the post to replace Singh as Minister of Finance.

    The governments of India and Sweden, and also BOFORS, rushed to deny the allegations, claiming that the howitzer deal had been concluded from direct negotiations, between Rajiv Gandhi and the late premier of Sweden, Olaf Palme, during the latter’s state visit to India in 1985.

    Rajiv Gandhi’s political vulnerability became increasingly apparent and rumors were rife of an impending “constitutional coup” to be staged by Giani Zail Singh, the president of India. Zail Singh, an Indira Gandhi loyalist, was about to complete his five-year term as president. He felt that a second term would not be forthcoming and he felt snubbed by Rajiv Gandhi, who neglected him on issues of government.

    Beginning in April 1987, newspapers reported that Giani Zail Singh was quietly seeking advise on his constitutional power to remove the prime minister. The president was said to be waiting for possible evidence that, Rajiv Gandhi himself had been involved in the graft scandal.

    On May 1, Rajiv Gandhi lashed out at unidentified opponents, whom, he said, wanted to stage a coup against the democratically elected government. The prime minister added that even the highest elected officials could be held answerable to parliament. Following the outburst of a veiled threat on the president, Giani Zail Singh’s public repudiation of the idea of removing Rajiv Gandhi was reported in the national press on May 5, 1987. The opposition were reluctant to entertain the idea of having a democratically elected prime minister dismissed. In one statement, leaders of the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) said that such an action by the president was “too dangerous a proposition for the future democracy and the country”.

    While Rajiv Gandhi struggled with corruption scandals and open hostility to his country’s president, the ruling Congress party was handed an overwhelming defeat in the state assembly election held on June 18, 1987 in Haryana. The defeat was the party’s sixth loss in the past seven votes that, it had contested under the leadership of Rajiv Gandhi.

    On July 13, 1987 Ramaswami Venkataraman was elected as the eighth president of India. Venkataraman, a senior Congress party leader from Tamil Nadu, South India, had served for four years under Indira Gandhi, both as Minister of Finance and later as Minister of Defense and had become vice president of India in 1984.

    Venkataraman was Rajiv Gandhi’s nominee for the mostly ceremonial post of president, and his chief opponent was V R Krishna Iyer, a retired Supreme Court Judge, who was supported by a collection of opposition parties.

    Balloting for the presidency was confined to members of the national parliament and state assemblies. Venkataraman brought a breath of fresh air to Rajiv Gandhi and to the Congress party, by garnering about 71 percent of the votes.

    Emboldened by this result, Rajiv Gandhi began to purge leading dissidents in the Congress party. On July 15,1987 he expelled party leaders Arin Mohammad Khan, V C Shukla and Arun Nehru. Again, on July 19, 1987 he expelled V.P.Singh. Infighting within Congress was not the single issue that confronted Rajiv Gandhi. The Punjab problem, Sikhs uprising for the formation of a separate state, coupled with problems in Nagaland and Mizoram became major issues.

    So, for distraction, Rajiv Gandhi latched on to Sri Lanka to divert attention from his mounting domestic problems, with the airdrop of supplies on June 4, into Jaffna, being a turning point in the Indo-Sri Lankan relationship.

  12. Nalliah Thayabharan Says:

    Rajiv Gandhi’s sad demise delayed the Swiss and Russian exposé on Antonia Maino (aka Sonia Gandhi). But Indian media’s interest in it actually coincided with Antonia Maino assuming leadership of the Congress. A G Noorani, a well-known columnist, had reported on both Schweizer Illustrierte and Albats’ exposés in Statesman (December 31, 1988). Subramanian Swamy had put out the photocopies of the pages of Schweizer Illustrierte and Albats’ book in his website along with the mail of the Swiss magazine dated February 23, 2002 confirming that in its article of November 1991 it had named Rajiv Gandhi with a total of Swiss Franc 2.5 billion ($2.2 billion) in secret account; it had also offered to supply a original copy of the magazine to Subramanian Swamy. (See: http://www.janataparty.org/annexures/ann10p43.html)
    These facts were again recalled in The New Indian Express (April 29, 2009) written in response to Antonia Maino’s speech at Mangalore (April 27, 2009) declaring that, “the Congress was taking steps to address the issue of untaxed Indian money in Swiss banks”. The article had questioned her about her family’s corrupt wealth in Swiss banks in the context of her vow to bring back the monies stashed away abroad.
    Rajinder Puri, a reputed journalist, has also earlier written on the KGB disclosures in his column on August 15, 2006. In India Today (December 27, 2010) the redoubtable Ram Jethmalani has referred to the Swiss exposé, asking where is that money now? So the Indian media too has repeatedly published the details of the secret billions of the Gandhi family investigated by the Swiss and Russian journalists. Amal Datta (CPI(M)) had raised the $2.2 billion issue in Parliament on December 7, 1991, but Speaker Shivraj Patil expunged the Gandhi name from the proceedings!
    Edvige Antonia Albina Maino was born December 09, 1946 to Stefano and Paola Maino in contrada Màini (“Maini street”) in Lusiana, a little village 30 km from Vicenza in the region of Veneto, Italy. She spent her adolescence in Orbassano, a town near Turin, attending a Catholic school. Her father, a building contractor, died in 1983. Her mother and two sisters still live around Orbassano. In 1964, she went to study English at the Bell Educational Trust’s language school in the city of Cambridge. She met Rajiv Gandhi, who was enrolled in Trinity College at the University of Cambridge in 1965 at a Greek restaurant while working there, as a waitress to make ends meet. In all three years of Rajiv Gandhi’s tenure at Trinity College had not passed a single examination. Sonia and Rajiv Gandhi married in 1968.
    Antonia Maino was given the name ‘Sonia’ by her late mother-in-law, Indira Gandhi. But there is no notification in the gazette regarding this change in name. This change of name runs in Nehru family is to fool the Indian public for their votes. Indira Gandhi’s real name was Indira Priyadarshini. In 1934–35, after finishing school, Indira joined Shantiniketan,a school set up by Rabindranath Tagore. Subsequently, she went to England and sat for the University of Oxford entrance examination, but she failed, and spent a few months at Badminton School in Bristol, before passing the exam in 1937 and enrolling at Somerville College, Oxford where she never finished her degree. Khushwant Singh, who has personally known Indira Gandhi, has said that she felt uncomfortable around educated people because she had no real education. During her stay in the UK, she frequently met Feroze Gandhi, whom she knew from Allahabad, and who was studying at the London School of Economics. Feroze Khan was quite sympathetic to Indira and Indira married Feroze Khan in a London mosque as per Islamic rites Feroz Khan after converting herself to Islam. Indira’s muslim name was Maimuna Begum and later both had changed their name to fool the public of India by an affidavit in a court to Indira Gandhi and Feroz Gandhi.
    The second son of Indira known as Sanjay Gandhi was not the son of Feroze Khan. Sanjay’s real father was Mohammad Y. Baby Sanjay had been circumcised following Islamic custom, although the reason stated was phimosis. Sanjay was notorious in getting unwed young women pregnant. Menaka too was rendered pregnant by Sanjay. It was then that her father, Colonel Anand, threatened Sanjay with dire consequences if he did not marry her daughter. And that did the trick. Sanjay married Menaka. It was widely reported in Delhi at the time that Mohammad Y was unhappy at the marriage of Sanjay with Menaka; apparently he had wanted to get him married with a Muslim girl of his choice.
    Mohammad Y who cried the most when Sanjay died in the plane accident. Sanjay used to blackmail Indira and due to this she used to turn a blind eye when Sanjay started to run the country as though it were his personal fiefdom. When the news of Sanjay’s death reached Indira, the first thing she wanted to know was about the bunch of keys which Sanjay had with him.
    Rajiv Gandhi changed his so called Parsi religion to become a Catholic to marry Edvige Antonia Albina Maino. Rajiv became Roberto. His daughter’s name is Bianca and son’s name is Raul. Quite cleverly the same names are presented to the people of India as Priyanka and Rahul. What is amazing is the extent of Indians’ ignorance in such matters. The press conference that Rajiv Gandhi gave in London after taking over as prime minister of India was very informative. In this press conference, Rajiv boasted that he was NOT a Hindu but a Parsi. Mind you, speaking of the Parsi religion, he had no Parsi ancestor at all. His grandmother (father’s mother) had turned Muslim after having abandoned the Parsi religion to marry Nawab Khan.
    After Rajiv’s birth Indira and Feroze lived separately, but they were not divorced. Feroze used to interfere in Nehru’s political activities. Nehru got fed up and left instructions not to allow him into the Prime Minister’s residence Trimurthi Bhavan. The death of Feroze in 1960 before he could consolidate his own political forces came as a relief to Nehru and Indira. Feroze had even planned to remarry. The second son of Indira known as Sanjay Gandhi was not the son of Feroze Khan. Sanjay’s real father was Mohammad Y who served as India’s ambassador to Turkey, Indonesia, Iraq and Spain. Mohammad Y represented India at the Non-Aligned Summits at Lusaka, Algiers, Colombo, New Delhi, and Harare. Baby Sanjay had been circumcised following Islamic custom, although the reason stated was phimosis. Incidentally, Sanjay’s marriage with the Sikh girl Menaka took place quite surprisingly through a civil ceremony(on 23 September 1974)in Mohammad Y’ house in New Delhi. And the marriage with Menaka who was a model (she had modeled for Bombay Dyeing wearing just a towel) was not so ordinary either. Sanjay never attended college, but took up an apprenticeship with Rolls-Royce in Crewe, England. Sanjay Gandhi’s name was actually Sanjeev Gandhi. He was arrested for a car theft in England. Since his passport had been seized, the then Indian Ambassador to England Krishna Menon changed his name to ‘Sanjay’and procured a new passport for him. On February 3,1956 Krishna Menon was inducted into the Nehru cabinet as minister without portfolio. Mohammad Y who cried the most when Sanjay died in the plane accident.

    At the end of Rajiv Gandhi’s five years in office, the Bofors Scandal broke out. Rajiv Gandhi was paid by Bofors through Ottavio Q. Ottavio Q was merely a conduit for siphoning money. He was not a regular arms dealer. His company Snamprogetti dealt in fertiliser and petrochemicals. He was nobody in India without the backing of Rajiv Gandhi.
    Interpol revealed two bank accounts, 5A5151516M and 5A5151516L, held by Ottavio Q and his wife Maria with the BSI AG bank, London, containing Euros 3 million and $1 million, a “curiously large savings for a salaried executive”. Ottavio’s son, Massimo Q, grew up with Sonia’s children Raul(Rahul) and Bianca(Priyanka).

    Around 1974, Ottavio was introduced to Rajiv Gandhi and Sonia Gandhi by an Italian named Mr. Molinari. Then Mrs. and Mr. Q started visiting Rajiv Gandhi and Sonia Gandhi. Children of both sides were frequent visitors to each other. At that time Rajiv Gandhi was a pilot in Indian Airlines. Q became very close to Rajiv Gandhi and his wife. Their children grew up together, and based on this friendship, Q had become so influential at the office of the Prime Minister “that bureaucrats used to stand up when Q visited them. The award of Jagdishpur Fertilizer Plant to Q, changing earlier decision for SPIC, is a clear case. He won about 60 major projects projects including:
    In 1981 – the five Alibag (Thal Vaishet) plants from RCF, four Kribhco plants in Hazira, as well as the ONGC gas pipeline in Hazira.
    In 1983 – National Fertilisers Limited’s (NFL’s) plant in Una[disambiguation needed ] and two plants in Guna.
    In 1984- IFFCO’s three plants in Aonla.
    In 1987- Nagarjuna Fertilizers and Chemicals Limited’s two plants in Kakinada.
    When Indira was found in the bed with her German teacher at Shantiniketan she was chased out of the Shantiniketan by Rabindranath Tagore.

    Before Indira’s marriage, the then Governor of Maharashtra Dr Shriprakash had warned Nehru in a meeting and through a letter, that Indira was having an illicit relationship with Feroze Khan.

    After Rajiv’s birth Indira and Feroze lived separately, but they were not divorced. Feroze used to interfere in Nehru’s political activities. Nehru got fed up and left instructions not to allow him into the Prime Minister’s residence Trimurthi Bhavan.

    The death of Feroze in 1960 before he could consolidate his own political forces came as a relief to Nehru and Indira. Feroze had even planned to remarry. The second son of Indira known as Sanjay Gandhi was not the son of Feroze Khan. Sanjay’s real father was Mohammad Y who served as India’s ambassador to Turkey, Indonesia, Iraq and Spain. Mohammad Y represented India at the Non-Aligned Summits at Lusaka, Algiers, Colombo, New Delhi, and Harare.

    Baby Sanjay had been circumcised following Islamic custom, although the reason stated was phimosis. Incidentally, Sanjay’s marriage with the Sikh girl Menaka took place quite surprisingly through a civil ceremony(on 23 September 1974)in Mohammad Y’ house in New Delhi. And the marriage with Menaka who was a model (she had modeled for Bombay Dyeing wearing just a towel) was not so ordinary either.

    Sanjay never attended college, but took up an apprenticeship with Rolls-Royce in Crewe, England. Sanjay Gandhi’s name was actually Sanjeev Gandhi. He was arrested for a car theft in England. Since his passport had been seized, the then Indian Ambassador to England Krishna Menon changed his name to ‘Sanjay’and procured a new passport for him. On February 3,1956 Krishna Menon was inducted into the Nehru cabinet as minister without portfolio. Mohammad Y who cried the most when Sanjay died in the plane accident.

    Indira didn’t have any knowledge about constitution and constitutional procedures.Indira furthered creation of democratic dictatorship, first kicked off by her father Nehru. Indira never trusted anyone but her family only and so made Sanjay Gandhi and Rajiv Gandhi heroes without any deed during her lifetime. Her leadership plunged India into depths of darkness. India needs enlightened leaders. But it has been getting stupid leaders because the population at large is not “enlightened.”

    For India to get decent leadership, Indians have to change. Indians have to demonstrate that they can take the long view, that they are not willing to vote criminals into office.

    Indians have granted “their obedience by their own consent” to dictators for a long while. The most recent in living memory is Indira Gandhi. Before that it was to their British overlords. Before that to the Islamic invaders.

    Failure of integrity is not uncommon among ministers and that some ministers, who have held office during the last seventy years have enriched themselves illegitimately, obtained good jobs for their sons and relations through nepotism and have reaped other advantages inconsistent with any notion of purity in public life

    Rahul Gandhi & his Columbian girlfriend Veronique , Daughter of a Columbian Drug Mafia were arrested on Sep 21, 2001 at Boston Airport by FBI for carrying $ 200,000 in Cash with them.
    Rahul Gandhi was then freed later on at the intervention of the then Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee.
    Rahul Gandhi was dropped out in 3 Months from Harvard. But Rahul Gandhi lied to Indians that he has Masters in Economics from Harvard.

    Sonia shares a common Educational Background (Grade 8) with her 2G Partner in Crime, Dakshinamurthy Muthuvel who lated changed his name as Karunanidhi as well as with Velupillai Prabaharan who ordered to kill her husband.

    Rahul Gandhi’s Columbian girlfriend Veronique , daughter of a Columbian mafia drug lord is already living in Thuglaq Road in Delhi. If ever, because of India’s misfortune, Rahul Gandhi comes to power, India will have another “Sonia”.

    Democracy is a government of the fools, for the fools, by the fools. – George Bernard Shaw.

    Muthuvel Dakshinamurthy (a.k.a ‘Kalaignar’ Karunanidhi) began his wily, scheming, corrupt, lustful, cinematic, persistent, sanguine, never-say-die political career in 1937 at the age of 13. He energetically fought the Congress Party when the rest of the country focused on the little matter of Independence.

    The imposition of Hindi in the then Madras Presidency was the first political issue he fought against. Fighting against untouchability and suppression of women in Hindu (but not other) societies were some of the causes he championed. It is another matter that he abandoned those causes once he rose to prominence and focused exclusively on power and currency.

    By 1947, Muthuvel Dakshinamurthy and his mentor Conjeevaram Natarajan Annadurai(CN Annadurai) had developed political ambitions. The Independence that others had fought for and won had opened up new vistas of opportunity that the duo weren’t going to miss. But there was one problem. The leader of their sub-nationalist movement Dravidar Kazhagam, ‘Periyar’ Erode Venkata Ramasami Naicker had called for August 15 to be observed as a Black Day. Ostensibly on a patriotic note, Anna and his thambi Muthuvel Dakshinamurthy disagreed with Periyar and parted ways.

    In 1949, they started the Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (DMK)—at least, the first generation version of the party. It would go on to evolve into its 2G and 3G versions that we all know only too well about.

    An early indication of what kind of a politician Muthuvel Dakshinamurthy (Karunanidhi) will develop into came after a by-election that the DMK won against the ruling Congress in the 1950s. Party leaders who had contributed the most to the victory had assembled at the celebrations hoping Anna would praise their hard work.

    To their horror, however, Anna presented a gold ring to Karunanidhi, who had played only a peripheral role, and lavishly praised him. Stunned, the leaders asked Anna in private to explain. He told them Karunanidhi had paid for the ring himself and had given it to him the previous night, requesting that the ring be presented to him at the ceremony. “You pay for the jewels and I will present them to you too,” Anna added.

    You can read the late poet Kannadasan’s twin-volume autobiography in which Karunanidhi’s younger days are detailed.

    Karunanidhi was not DMK’s first choice to be the successor for Anna. There were other illustrious, honest leaders who coveted the opportunity. But when Anna died in 1969, Karunanidhi pleaded with the party’s rising star and a heartthrob of Tamil film fans, Maruthur Gopalan Ramachandran (MGR), to support his candidature. Riding on MGR’s backing, Karunanidhi defeated the other contenders and became the chief minister in 1969.

    But as soon as he was sworn in, Karunanidhi began sidelining MGR in the party. He was jealous of MGR’s popularity both within the party and across the state. So he denied MGR a Cabinet berth on the grounds that a busy actor would not be able to do justice to his ministerial duties. When MGR became a bitter critic of the chief minister, Karunanidhi suspended him from the party.

    It is another matter that MGR formed his own party and grabbed power, never to lose to Karunanidhi till his death in 1987.

    In 1976, Indira Gandhi dismissed the DMK government on corruption charges though the real reason might have been her Emergency-era paranoia against non-Congress chief ministers. She set up a panel called Sarkaria Commission to inquire into the charges. The panel defined Karunanidhi and his men as being ‘scientifically corrupt.’ It meant their corruption was systematic and left no trail.

    .In 1976, Indira Gandhi dismissed the DMK government on corruption charges though the real reason might have been her Emergency-era paranoia against non-Congress chief ministers. She set up a panel called Sarkaria Commission to inquire into the charges. The panel defined Karunanidhi and his men as being ‘scientifically corrupt.’ It meant their corruption was systematic and left no trail.

    During the election campaign, he would tell the voters they are the only ‘Gods’ he worshipped. But once they fix him, he would call them ‘beggars’, ‘numb creatures’ and ‘ingrates’.

    In 1984, he was going to lose so desperately in the Assembly elections, that he used an old picture showing him in a happy chat with his (now) archenemy MGR to ask for votes. His argument was that MGR was bedridden in a hospital in the US and could not possibly govern the state. Despite that, the voters gave an overwhelming verdict in favour of the semi-conscious patient and routed Karunanidhi’s ilk.

    He became the chief minister only after MGR died and the AIADMK had split. But then, Jayalalithaa was the new rising star and he couldn’t believe his own eyes. For a man who had engaged in political sparring with C Rajagopalachari, K Kamaraj, Bhaktavatsalam and MGR, a former actress 25 years his junior was a climb-down.

    Given the feudal background of the DMK, Karunanidhi resorted to the only trick India’s male politicians have in their arsenal against powerful female rivals. He attacked Jayalalithaa personally and oversaw a clutch of sidekicks saying horrendous things. But she couldn’t be scared into submission. Jayalalithaa went on to become Tamil Nadu’s single-largest politician, and more popular than Karunanidhi even when out of power.

    The one thing to recommend Karunanidhi for is his tenacity and an attitude that never gives up. Tamil voters have rejected his candidature for chief-ministership six times in the past 35 years. Not once did he lose hope. Never did he contemplate retirement. Swan songs written for Karunanidhi could fill a fat volume but he belied all of them.

    Even now, he must already be thinking of the next step in his political journey. His unfinished agenda includes divvying up the wealth among his sons and daughters, firewall the party from a split after his death and make sure the investigation into the 2G scandal fizzles out. A million-war veteran, he is not going to let these minor ripples force him out of the water.

    The man is 86-years old and bound to a wheelchair. His son, MK Stalin virtually ran the show in the state. None of the party leaders look up to Karunanidhi anymore, either for ideological leadership or ‘practical’ decisions. They are busy falling into the Stalin camp or the rival MK Azhagiri camp headed by his other son.

    Karunanidhi has lost control over his family and party a long ago. Even in 2009, when the DMK was negotiating with the Congress for Cabinet berths in the Centre, he was not informed of the details.

    His fighting spirit hasn’t faded a bit, but his illness prevents him from taking action. He also doesn’t seem to understand the modern aspirations of the newest generations. His political plans don’t cater to their needs such as higher education, job creation, infrastructure or economic reforms. His old-style politics—marked by oratorical flourish and an economic policy revolving exclusively around freebies—cannot capture their imagination.

    When the next elections are held in Tamil Nadu, he would be 91. The voters need a younger, more progressive, less divisive leader to take them into the new millennium. The 1937 anti-Hindi campaigner doesn’t fit the description.

  13. Dham Says:

    I like Lorenzo’s percentages.
    China – 75%
    Pakistan – 10%
    Total – 85% (They are friends).

    India – 15%.

    Looks like University Entrance percentages in Malaysia (inrevers order).
    But almost 60% of our motor vehicles are Indian.
    There was a time that Indian products dominated but thanks to some excellent Sri Lankan alternatives they are out of market.
    Government must openly discuss this percentage and start some closer relationship with the 75% stake holder.

  14. NAK Says:

    Very good explanation. Would have been better if Sarath Fonseka’s involvement was also included. It is time We Sri Lankans stop being defensive. Attack seems to be the only form of defence. As voice 123 says this must not be left to the government alone and since the offensive is coming from abroad it is the Sri Lankans living overseas should get organized and target the perpetrators and take them down one by one. This will not be as easy as said because powers of the respective coutries will be behind those people. Nevertheless this must be attempted and taking down one or two leaders might send the rest of the rats packing.

    Thanks MR.Thayabaran,very informative. Sad state of affairs but hillarious at the same time looking at the things these people do and say.

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