The March of Folly Understanding why Mahinda Rajapaksa lost
Posted on January 12th, 2018

By Prof. Rajiva Wijesinha Courtesy Ceylon Today

I looked last week at Nalaka Godahewa’s account of why Mahinda Rajapaksa lost, which he attributed to the excessive influence of eight people who “were not listening to the voices of the grassroots anymore.” Though an intelligent analysis of some aspects of the last years of the Rajapaksa Administration, the article failed to distinguish between positive influences and those who contributed heavily to the defeat.

I was happy though that Godahewa was complimentary about Gotabaya Rajapaksa, and I wished he had also noted how effectively P.B. Jayasundera and Ajith Nivard Cabraal had contributed to the economic wellbeing of the country, certainly in comparison with the current mess. And I felt too that there was more to be said for Lalith Weeratunga, though he failed to exercise his undoubted influence productively.

With regard to the four others Godahewa identifies, I feel he is generally right, though again the analysis could have been less perfunctory. And I was sorry he left out two characters who I felt did more than anyone else to destroy the President, though again neither has been accused of financial misdemeanours.

One was G.L. Peiris, whose influence Godahewa belittles in asserting that “Sajin de Vass Gunawardena was a huge influence in the External Affairs Ministry, though officially, Peiris was in charge.”

Peiris endemic insecurity

That does not reduce Peiris’ culpability for disastrous foreign relations, and his failure for instance to go to America to meet Hillary Clinton when she invited him, to reply to Manmohan Singh’s letter when the Indians were debating which way to vote at the Human Rights Council in March 2014, to move on matters which were agreed with the TNA when we were negotiating with them and the President told us to proceed.

But Godahewa does have a point in that perhaps Peiris’ endemic insecurity was exacerbated by the way Sajin was, as it was put, in charge of him. And certainly perhaps the worst influence on the President was Sajin. What finally convinced me to come out against the President (as opposed to staying neutral, for we had told him we could not support him if there were no reforms) was Sajin’s attack on Chris Nonis, and the fact that Mahinda Rajapaksa took Sajin’s side when that outrageous assault occurred.

Sajin’s evil influence, in also sabotaging talks with the TNA, and in helping Kshenuka Seneviratne destroy our foreign relations, in particular with India, I can testify to, having indeed written about it.

I cannot, however, comment on another individual Godahewa mentions, Gamini Senarath who allegedly ‘influenced all key appointments in the government.’ But that may be true and perhaps indicates why Lalith failed. Though it is said he “had the power to make or break anyone’s relationship with the former President,” the influence attributed to Senarath suggests Lalith had been superseded (which is why he should indeed have resigned, when he could no longer influence policy either).

Responsiveness to peoples needs

Senarath was not one of my dwarfs, but someone else Godahewa mentions, namely Namal Rajapaksa was amongst them.

Though I now realize that a story Arjuna Ranatunga told me about him, which I credited, may not have been true, it is certainly true that Mahinda Rajapaksa could not control him and some of his initiatives did not benefit the country or the people. That worried me, for right to the end I felt that, while Basil Rajapaksa was not responsive in many respects to people’s needs, Mahinda had his measure and could rein him in when necessary.

Basil indeed is the most complicated of those Godahewa identifies as having exercised seminal influence during the Rajapaksa Administration.

I myself felt that this influence was perverse, not least because he usurped the authority of many SLFP ministers, which is why none of them are mentioned in the article, but at the same time he achieved much in terms of development.

Though he failed to consult people in the areas in which he worked, and contributed to the alienation of the Tamils, his contribution should not be ignored, not least because it is far in advance of anything this government has done.

2 Responses to “The March of Folly Understanding why Mahinda Rajapaksa lost”

  1. Dilrook Says:

    Basil had no skills or experience in development work or in economic management. It was unwise to put him in charge of these. Similarly, Gotabaya had no skills in town planning. He should have been kept out of it. Some others in charge of important ministries were far worse. Hakeem was the minister of justice! Rishard was the minister for trade including international trade! Of course, Mervyn Silva was the PR minister!

    Mahinda never won a sizable share of minority votes. His neglect of the majority since 2010 resulted in his defeat. As a last minute action, he should have agreed and started to implement NFF and JHU demands. That would have saved him. Had he abrogated 13A, he would have certainly won the 2015 election easily. The PC system gave ammunition to his rivals. After a narrow win in Uva, Mahinda went for presidential elections 2 years early. At least 4 chief ministers supported his rival.

  2. Christie Says:

    Namaste: The 2015 Sri Lankan Presidential election: How it happened? What it means for Sri Lanka (Ceylon)? What it means for the Indian Empire (Indian Union & its colonies)?
    How it happened? Another Indian job. The former President called an early election. The Indian imperialists (Indian Union) were ready to correct its mistake in 2005 when it backed Mahinda Rajapaksa over Ranil Wickramasinge. Then, Indian imperialists advised Indian block vote in the island to abstain from voting. The reason for the preference was Indian imperialists thought it will be easier to negotiate with Mahinda an unknown matter for India. When profiling Mahinda they did not take in to account his brothers, in particular Gotabaya who was in the USA at that time. Unfortunately for India, Mahinda did not follow Indian directions as former Sri Lankan leaders did since 1956. In 2010 India enrolled General Sarath Fonseka as a presidential candidate against Mahinda and failed. So behind the scene as Indian imperialist always do they were planning for years and had got former governor Chandrika Bandaranayake-Kumaranatunge to do the job and succeeded with doing a repeat of what India did with her father Solomon West Ridgeway Dias Bandaranayake in 1951. India did not have to wait for four years this time. India managed to divide the non-Indian vote and got the Indian block vote for Maithripala Sirisena the new Indian governor of Sri Lanka who may be the proxy for the real governor Chandrika.
    What it means for Sri Lanka? Nothing much. It will be the same as what the island nation had from 1956 to 2005 and before from 1792 to 1948. The Indian minority will run the country with the privileges they enjoyed since their arrival under the cover of the British fire power and their own nonviolent aggression and oppression. They will claim they are the victims of Majority Sinhala Chauvinists; the same claim that they make in other colonies from Fiji to Guyana. For example; finance and justice; most important ingredients in the world and heads of these two institutions in the island now are from the victimized minority and one of them has been brought from another colony.
    What it means for the Indian Empire? It means a lot to the Indian Empire. The former partner of the British-Indian Empire from Fiji to Guyana; that is all former tropical colonies of the British-Indian Empire. India lost its control over the island nation since 2005 as the new government of the island nation managed to wipe out the Indian terrorist arm; trained, armed, financed, managed and branded Tamil Tigers by India. Since the election of the new governor Indian cars and food have become cheaper with reduced tax on Indian products. Indian Imperialists have already indicated massive investments and projects in all sectors of the economy. This will not be a hard act as the island nation’s economy has been in their hands for more than two centuries and the business language in the country is an Indian language spoken by more than 75 million of them in India. The wealthiest in the island are Indian though their wealth is not stored in the island but most of it in India. Reclaiming the control over the island nation will supplement its control over the Indian Ocean and Indian Ocean countries. With its unchallenged military power; with ICBMs, Aircraft Carriers, Nuke Subs, Nuke (Peace) bombs and purchase of hundred billion dollars’ worth of military hardware the island nation provides the best step with Mauritius a third State of India to lay a drag line across the Indian Ocean.
    Jai Hind. Contact:

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