THE RETURN OF MAHINDA RAJAPAKSE  
Posted on March 14th, 2017

KAMALIKA PIERIS

Mahinda Rajapakse, President of Sri Lanka, conceded defeat and handed over the government to Ranil Wickremasinghe when he found that he was losing the Presidential election of January 9, 2016. He did so before the final results were announced. Then he took off in a helicopter to go to his house in Medamulana, Hambantota district. His supporters also went. They were there to greet him as he arrived. You tube has the video.  They went there the next day as well. From then on, supporters started to flock to Medamulana regularly in buses and coaches. This is most unusual. Usually, the defeated candidate is   immediately forgotten.

There were regular gatherings at Medamulana, thereafter.  At the meeting on June 1. 2015, the excited supporters were urged not to climb on to the stage because then the stage would collapse before Rajapakse could get on to it.  They were asked to sit down so that the meeting can be filmed and sent out to the world. Lastly they were asked to stop yelling and listen to Rajapakse. The audience took no notice. They were too agitated. Even Rajapakse had to ask them to stop making a noise and listen to him.   CSN has filmed it and that also is on YouTube.

‘Political watch’ said in May 2015, the buildup of the pro Mahinda camp over the past few months has been an educative experience. Never in our life times have we seen a phenomenon like this.” The public follow Mahinda Rajapaksa in thousands wherever he goes from the day he was defeated. Have we ever seen anywhere such a phenomenon in connection with a defeated man, asked N.A. de S Amaratunge.

At the request of his supporters Rajapakse contested the general elections of August 2015 and was voted in as   MP for Kurunegala.  He thereafter started a progamme of visiting temples island wide, offering flowers and making speeches to the audiences who   flocked there enthusiastically to wave and call out to him. My guess is that these are the voters who did NOT vote for him and now bitterly regret the fact. The happy looks and cheering resembles that of fans greeting a pop star.  Thousands of people also go to see him in his village daily.  A phenomenon that has never occurred before. These visits are not originated by anybody, said Dinesh Gunawardene.  I have seen this [once before] though on a lesser scale when Sirima Bandaranaike lost her civil rights, he concluded.

Then the mammoth ‘pro- Mahinda rallies’ started,   drawing crowds of about 200-300 monks and about 700-800 laymen.  The Joint Opposition rally on March 17, 2016 at Hyde Park in Colombo, became a ‘bring back Mahinda rally. ‘The audience overflowed on to the roads around and Rajapakse was given a great welcome.  The ‘bring back Mahinda’ movement as it progressed became an opposition movement which was barreling along on its own regardless of whether Mahinda was there or not, observed Chandraprema. At the Matara meeting of June 2015, there much open opposition to American and Indian meddling in Sri Lanka. There was a clenched fist oath taken at this meeting to protect the nation against enemies within and without.

The biggest rally was the Joint Opposition one at Kirulapone on May 1, 2016. Chandraprema reported that the entire High Level Road, all four lanes from near the Kirulapone public market to and beyond the Y junction was one sea of heads and so tightly packed that no one could get through. There were crowds up to Baseline road.  All four lanes of Baseline road was also a sea of heads.  This was the biggest crowd to ever assemble at a political rally anywhere in Colombo within living memory, said Chandraprema.

The Joint Opposition’s Pada Yatra from Kandy to Colombo,    from      28 July to 1 Aug, 2016 made political history, the country has not seen anything like this before, reported Island.

The march attracted massive numbers. It could not have been any bigger given the population of the country. People walked distances that nobody would walk in normal circumstances. It is a grueling and exhausting form of protest but the crowd that participated was larger than at most political meetings.  There were more than 1.5 million participants in the Pada Yatra.

At Kiribathgoda, on the last day, police had cleared three lanes. People were walking 25-30 abreast from pavement to the centre fence and the entire road was full of them. It took an hour for the procession to pass one point. The pavements and the balconies of houses had supporters, waving away. Others had prepared refreshments for the participants and were busy serving them. Rajapakse was waving to his supporter like a roly poly king. They were cheering him specifically and he had to acknowledge their cheers.

There were academics, medical specialists, trade unionist, farmer, workers, teachers, artistes in the procession. The whole of Lipton Circus was one sea of heads.  There were about 50,000 to 60,000 which is politically significant said Kumar David. While Rajapaksa was speaking at Lipton Circus, the crowd also was yelling on its own, about VAT, ECTA, cost of living.  They were not listening to Rajapakse and applauding, as audiences are expected to do. They were   protesting on their own. That was what they had come to do, not to listen to speeches.  This, I think, is something new in the local rallies.

Support for Rajapakse exists overseas too. Gotabhaya Rajapakse went to Japan in December 2016, on an invitation extended to him by the Sri Lankan community in Japan who are supporting former President Mahinda Rajapakse. Before that Gotabhaya had attended a defence seminar in China in October 2016.

Rajapaksa said he had initially planned to retire from politics following his January 2015 defeat, and ‘take some rest’, but the current government “went after him”.  He thought the attacks on his family would stop after a few months. But ‘they are still at it two years later’. He had been told that investigations against him and his family would be dropped if he chose to retire from politics.  Rajapakse said he had no secret accounts and pointed out that if he had then it would not have taken this long to reveal their details. He also pointed out that accounts with millions of dollars cannot be operated without attracting the attention of international regulatory authorities, in this day of heightened surveillance of money laundering.

The majority of the Sinhala voters still consider Mahinda as their leader. That seems to be a factor that nobody is talking about openly but it is nevertheless a reality, said Dinesh Gunawardena  It is etched in the people’s minds that there is no other leader to match Mahinda.  Rajapakse continued to be praised even after he was defeated in the 2015 election.

China, the world power in waiting, took note of all this. China sent Vice-Minister of Foreign Affairs Liu Zhenmin to Colombo as special envoy in October 2015 to discuss matters with the government. Chinese envoys only interact with the government, but in this case, the Chinese envoy took the unusual step of meeting Rajapaksa   as well. “It was a courtesy call said South China Morning Post.  But it was a departure from Chinese policy.

China followed this up with an invitation to Rajapakse to visit China. Rajapakse went to China for a week’s visit in November 2016 on the invitation of the Chinese government. Observers saw this as a strong message” from Beijing. This invitation points to a public display of support, commented Hindu . President Rajapaksa had made a positive contribution to the development of China-Sri Lanka relations during his term of office. China appreciates what he has done for the friendship between the two countries,” the Chinese Foreign Ministry told The Hindu.  This invitation shows how much the Chinese government values their relationship with the former President and appreciates his political stature, said Vasudeva Nanayakkara.

In China Rajapakse had visited Guangzhou and Shenzhen   and discussed Hambantota. According to Hindu, Rajapakse had said stick to the original plan, instead of expanding the Hambantota project as the present government had done. If China took 15,000 acres to create a special Chinese economic zone, there will be a takeover of agricultural land and displacement of villagers.

A high-level delegation from China led by Song Tao, Minister of the International Department of Communist Party of China visited Sri Lanka in February 2017. This delegation, too, visited Rajapakse in Colombo at his official residence. They had discussed several issues, including the proposed investment zone in Hambantota, G.L Peiris said. Television news showed the discussion. The two groups faced each other at a long table in diplomatic style.

Rajapakse was an official guest in South Korea in August 2016. Then he went, on invitation, to the International conference of Asian Political parties held in Malaysia in September, 2016.

He led the Joint Opposition delegation. There, he met the Malaysian Prime Minister, other political parties of Malaysia and a delegation from the Malaysian business community. He also met the Chinese Communist Party delegation. The Tamil separatist movement objected to his visit, and hung his effigy in Kuala Lumpur and demonstrated.  In reply, huge crowds met him at Katunayake airport on his return.

The ‘bring back Mahinda’ movement has a political energy and a momentum that no other political party has. And this is not even a political party, observed Chandraprema. One reason is the stark contrast between the present state of the economy and the situation that existed when Rajapaksa ran the country,   he concluded. The rally at Ratnapura in October, 2016 was   also hugely attended. The Joint Opposition rally of Jan 2017 at Nugegoda    specifically referred to toppling the government and called for Rajapakse’s return.  Crowds had chanted derogatory slogans against Sirisena such as ‘appa hora’ and Rajapakse said he was ready to lead the movement.

Rohana Wasala said, in February 2017,  ‘my advocacy of MR’s leadership is not because I want to tout him as an example of the perfect ruler, but because I believe, like many, that there is no other politician with the proven abilities and commitment that he has demonstrated. Mahinda Rajapaksa is the only political leader of national standing that we have who is still most acceptable to all the communities alike, whatever his detractors say. The country is being confronted probably with one of its worst crises since 1948. We cannot do without his leadership at this critical juncture. Honestly, there is still no one among our current leaders to take his place’. Rajapakse will remain a formidable force in our politics, said Izeth Hussein.

12 Responses to “THE RETURN OF MAHINDA RAJAPAKSE  ”

  1. vyasan Says:

    I am earnestly waiting for Mr. Rajapakse to lead Sri Lanka once again in the near future, and would like to see the country to fulfill many of its development needs without any hindrances and direction by foreign powers.

  2. Dilrook Says:

    All successful bring back Mahinda campaigns were organised by Wimal. It is yet to be seen how these will proceed in his absence. As the most experienced MP, Mahinda knows that his popularity is not sufficient to propel him to rule the country. For that reason, he has refrained from joining his own registered party. If he knew his own party can top the election the next time, he would have joined a registered political party of his own by now.

    This makes him work under Sirisena (the party leader) and his chances of leading the country once again depends solely on winning Sirisena’s confidence.

    There is no future for Mahinda or anyone else in his family if they remain in Sirisena’s party. If they are confident of making it big, they must leave it as soon as possible and join a new registered party. Losing parliamentary seats (though illegal) means nothing for the next election. Unless such a movement is created at least now there is no hope for them.

    History shows clearly that popularity is not the main criteria of election success. There should be a powerful election vehicle to convert it to votes. In 2015 August, Sirisena used Mahinda’s popularity to get his unpopular national list MPs into parliament.

  3. Cerberus Says:

    Thank you, Kamalika for these articles about President Mahinda Rajapaksa. Here is another article I found in Lankaweb in praise of MR. We all pray for his comeback and that he is kept safe from the vultures who are circling our beautiful land and the jackals and hyenas who are now urinating in the golden chalices of the palace as predicted by Lord Buddha.

    COMPARISON OF “GLADIATOR” PRESIDENT MAHINDA RAJAPAKSA
    Posted on July 9th, 2015
    Well wisher
    The tragedy that seems to have befallen on President Mahinda Rajapaksa reminds me of the “Gladiator” from the film with Russel Crowe. In the film he is the favorite of the Emperor Marcus Aurelius and his son Commodus becomes jealous of the Emperor’s love for his General Maximus. Commodus kills his father and sends Maximus also to be also killed. Fortunately, he escapes and goes underground. Then he comes back as a Gladiator and Commodus recognizes him and arranges a fight with him in the arena. However, before the fight, Commodus goes and stabs Maximux in the back and tells the soldiers to dress him up in the suit of the Gladiator and fights with him in the arena. Even though mortally wounded Maximux defeats Commodus and kills him.

    Look at what befell MR.

    MR was stabbed in the back by Maitripala Sirisena (MS) who then manages to convince the people of the country that MR was corrupt, based purely on allegations without any proof.
    The Yahapalanya group tried hard to prove their allegations and have failed even though they had the backing of foreign countries to investigate MR. Even his family members and all his associates were accused in a similar manner and arrested and taken to prison without proof of crimes.
    MR handed over to MS his party UPFA, and the SLFP too, of which he had been a lifelong member.
    He then retired hoping to live a quiet life. However, the ordinary Sinhala villagers started coming to his house and begging him to run for office. His caring for them was so strong that he agreed at great personal risk and loss of all his Presidential privileges. (The people are equivalent to Marcus Aurelius in the story).
    MS was jealous of this love of the people for MR and tried to persuade everyone to follow him rather than MR. But it was not to be. So like in the film he first mortally wounds him by removing all the support for MR and after putting negative conditions, tells him to run for elections in the forthcoming general elections.
    Like Maximus in the film, MR has suffered all the insults and allegations stoically.
    Let us hope that in the election MR can defeat the anti-Sri Lanka elements who have tried their best to destabilize the economy and destroy the country in the name of good governance.
    When MS who contested the Presidential election under a different party instead of SLFP for UPFA then appointed a minor party UNP as the Governing party against all rules of the norm. He appointed RW as Prime Minister when there was an existing Prime Minister, a Chief Justice when there was an existing head and did not follow any rules of good governance to appoint these people. People anyway decided to give him a chance to prove this mettle and overlooked all the irregularities. The man who spoke vehemently against family bandyism promptly appointed his Family members to key posts. Even his son Daham who was under investigation by the Police for having $1.2 Million in Swiss Francs and Dollars was released and went to the USA on a Green card offered by the grateful USA. See http://www.island.lk/index.php?page_cat=article-details&page=article-details&code_title=116619

    It is ironic that the JVP people who were slaughtered mainly by Mrs. Bandaranayake and then by the UNP seem to have forgotten history and joined the UNP/CBK wing. Kumara Dissanayake whose speech is colored by his hatred has decided to direct his venom at MR when MR is the one person who has tried to uplift the poor villagers, both Sinhala and Tamil. KD is like a spitting cobra spitting venom at MR and associates. Similarly, the JHU which has as policies the upliftment of the Sinhala Buddhists have also forgotten history and joined the UNP. Have they forgotten the past so soon how both CBK and RW betrayed the country again and again? So many of the Sinhala soldiers who all came from the villages were killed due to the incompetence of these two people. The should have resigned from active politics a long ago for what they did to the country.

    RW who gave a personal undertaking to the Parliament that he will be responsible for Arjun Mahendran’s actions when he was brought in as CB Governer since there were many in the Parliament who opposed RW. Earlier Arjun was calling RW “Uncle Ranil” at every turn. However, when things went wrong Arjun put the blame on RW and said that he was acting on RW’s instructions. Now RW is like a cat scratching the floor trying to cover up after laying its faeces on a concrete slab. Now the poor people of the country will be paying for RW and Arjun’s bond scam for the next 30 years.

    MR’s biggest fault appears to be his inability to criticize even his worst enemies or speak ill of them and also not defending himself when false accusations were brought against him. Of course, the English media is run more or less by the pro-foreign UNP Colombians and Christian/Catholic journalists. Read the Colombo Telegraph to see what I mean.

    Let us watch the outcome and let us hope that TRUTH wins.

  4. Wetta Says:

    Sirisena went for 2015 presidential elections against Mahinda while staying in “Mahinda’s party”, which was SLFP, and the bastard won by cheating the entire nation with terrible lies. He exposed his plan only at the last moment, even if he was planning that with Chandrika, Ranil and Rajitha along with India, Singapore and the west for about 3 years before that. That is a “political tactic”.

    Today Mahinda is still in “Sirisena’s party” and campaigning against Sirisena. The two scenarios are very similar in principal but opposite in character.

    Therefore I don’t see any urgent and burning reason why Mahinda should sacrifice his parliamentary seat and “officially” join his new party, the “flower bud”. To the people on the streets, it doesn’t matter if Mahinda is an “official” member of the new party or not. It does not make any difference to them. All what matters to them is the hope Mahinda gives to them by supporting the “Flower Bud” openly. They know, and they feel that Mahinda is with the flower bud, just like the 6.2 million of those cheated gullible people felt that Sirisena was with UNP even if he was “officially” in Mahinda’s SLFP. UNP supporters still voted for Sirisena in thousands.

    I have no reason to believe therefore that “There is no future for Mahinda or anyone else in his family if they remain in Sirisena’s party”, but quite the opposite. As soon as he and his colleagues leave the parliamentary seats, they become ordinary folks in the country, with no access to parliamentary privileges like access to inside information, right to argue back in the parliament, present their alternative views in the parliament, the legal and social acceptance they get from local bodies and foreign governments due to their legitimate representation of constituents.

    People join the flower bud because they know Mahinda is behind it, they already have confidence, it does not need them to see a membership card.

    Currently Mahinda legitimately and “directly” represents approximately half a million people as his voters. Representing voters is far more legitimate than representing “supporters”. It will be far more difficult for Mahinda to travel his next rise if he becomes a common man on the street, by abandoning his current constituents. If he does it the current incompetent government will use that act also as a beacon to break hearts of the people who voted for him. He did that once by calling for presidential elections earlier than what was given to him by the people. I don’t think he should do it again as a habit.

  5. Lorenzo Says:

    MR should be STUPID to leave the SLFP just because of My3.

    SLFP is NOT the private property of anyone.

    IF MR wants to take over the party he should wait for My3 to GO (various ways he can GO). SLFP people are CATTLE. They will rally behind ANYONE.

    BUT IF My3 does NOT go by 2020 it is GAME OVER for MR and family. My3 will DEFINITELY CONTEST the 2020 presidential election and he will NEVER appoint MR or anyone from that family as PM.

  6. Lorenzo Says:

    Wetta, nice series of articles. Congratulations!

  7. Dilrook Says:

    @Wetta

    Parliamentary privileges mean next to nothing for the executive president or the speaker. They have no regard. If Mahinda stays in the SLFP to save their parliamentary privileges then I’m afraid they are not going to get it and lose the people in the process. Sirisena is not going to do the mistakes of Mahinda. He keeps a close watch over them misusing state intelligence services.

    Mahinda or anyone else doesn’t lose their parliamentary seat just because they register a new party and join it. Those things have happened in Sri Lanka since 1948. If Sirisena wants to punish them, he will do it either way. The two most dramatic SLFP regime toppling victories (1956 and 1994) were done mostly by people without parliamentary privilege. The same is true about the UNP in 1977 and 2015. As a former president Mahinda is entitled to bullet proof cars, security and perks. He need not be a MP to get them.

    The flower bud party is not going anywhere by playing the Mahinda card without Mahinda. It only has local government councillors. Basil is a very weak political (emphasised) organiser. He was a failure as the UNP Hambantota District organiser in 1980s, totally ineffective with the DUNF in 1991 and suffered defeats as Gampaha District organiser and SLFP national organiser (2010 to 2015).

    JO with only 51 MPs cannot even block a constitution amendment attempt which requires 75 MPs. Some JO MPs including Vasudeva will actually support an openly federal constitution. If they are not bound by Sirisena’s dictates (as party leader) they can truly mobilise people and take their side while building a party to face the presidential election in 2019. That is just 2 and a half years away. Mahinda cannot contest it. SLFP even without Sirisena will not allow Basil or Gotabhaya to contest from its ticket.

    The other advantage of joining a new registered party is it will carry forward Mahinda Chinthanaya even if he suffers civic disability or worse. If Mahinda remains in the SLFP until either end, the SLFP inherits his legacy. Leaving SLFP will also give him freedom to take a hard stand on 13A, ETCA, etc.

    Sirisena had the backing of three well established parties (UNP, JVP and TNA). So it didn’t matter the Swan Alliance was not organised or not. This is not the case with Mahinda. No established party supports him. NFF, MEP and LSSP have failed to win a seat alone.

  8. hela patriot Says:

    yes we need a new party . Sinhala people want some one that can lead the sinhala buddhist. Does mahinda qualify having done nothing on the thirteenth amendment, allowed muslim minister to dole out 1000 acres to muslims under his umbrella etc

  9. ranjit Says:

    I agree with Dilrook in some comments of his but don’t worry he has the backing of well known recognized politicians as well as educationists Buddhist clergy and majority of our Patriots etc. therefore we should keep faith on him and help him in whatever party he comes forward. No one to save Lanka except him at this juncture from this evil achcharu government of three traitors. Sirisena has a mind of gramasrvaka and he has cunning habits with a revengeful heart and he cannot be trusted for a dime. Mahinda should not join with him at anytime. He will never leave Ranil the grasshopper because Sira is enjoying all the Tamashas because of him today. One eyed witch also won’t like Sira joining Mahinda at all. So forget all three witch doctors and let Mahinda organize his new party now itself. He should leave SLFP and start building his new party with appointing island wide organizers and marketing his vision for our country. People are waiting for that moment and shouldn’t delayed further. Keeping quite won’t taking him any place. He should inform his supporters what’s his plans for the future. He should not keep his legs in two places instead stand firm and strong in one place and show the world where he stands with his millions of supporters. God will helps us to bring him back with the blessings of all citizens irrespective of color, religion or race. He should act fast before the current coup plotters plan another coup with the assistance from the west and the Indian parasites.

  10. Lorenzo Says:

    Stop this madness of NEW PARTIES.

    SLFP is the ONLY anti-UNP party. Like it or not work WITHIN the SLFP to get things done. You don’t like SIRA, too bad.

    MR knows better than POLITICAL COMMENTATORS here. That is why MR is NOT leaving the SLFP.

  11. NAK Says:

    What ever his ‘bath balaya’s may say Sirisena knows he has no chances being reelected to the presidency. Once he is out, the SLFP will just fall in to his lap. He only has to be patient until then and keep working towards that.

  12. Hiranthe Says:

    Thank you Kamalika,

    You have done a great deal of service to Mother Lanka similar to Shenali. You two would have been Anula Devi’s in the past….

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