By Walter Jayawardhana

Creating a niche in Sri Lanka’s politics by presenting himself as a leader of a minority community and mixing his religion , Roman Catholicism with politics with ambitions to become the Prime Minister of Sri Lanka as a close confidante of the President is one of the main reasons former Highways Minister Jeyaraj Fernandopulle was assassinated says, a pro-LTTE weekly printed in Canada and distributed all over Europe.

The Paraparappu, the pro-LTTE political and Tamil language weekly distributed widely among expatriate Tamil communities in Canada, Britain, Switzerland, Australia, France, Nederland, Norway, Demark and Germany says in its cover story that undoubtedly he was the closest man to the President and was keeping his eyes on the chair of the Prime Minister.

Ethnically belonging to a Tamil group who mingles well with the Sinhalese, Fernandopulle a church going Roman Catholic excelled in his public relations with Buddhist temples in his electorate so well that at least one temple is named after him. A report said, before the LTTE suicide blast that killed him, “ he had his breakfast at the near by Buddhist temple after visiting the chief monk Venerable Alubovila Dhammarathana. Subsequently he also visited the Fernandopulle Asapuwa, named after him.”

The pro-LTTE news weekly, under its cover story entitled, “Why Jeyaraj Fernandopulle was targeted”, said, the second reason for the killing could be listed as the “deceiving” role he played to lead the Mahinda Rajapaksa government to possible victory at the provincial council elections in the Eastern Province and ridicule the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) possibly by his political intrigues to show that people did not vote for the Tamil Tigers.

Fernandopulle and fourteen others including some of the top athletes of the island nation including an Olympic runner were blasted to death by a Tamil Tiger suicide bomber when the minister tried to flag off a marathon organized to celebrate the Sinhalese and Hindu New Year, April 6, 2008.
The pro-LTTE weekly said probably the Tamil Tigers were upset that while there were other Catholics in the cabinet he was trying to show off as the only representative of the Catholics.

If the army captured the Madhu church area, in a LTTE controlled district, Jeyaraj Fernandopulle would have taken the opportunity, and would have had the biggest propaganda blitz for the government, the LTTE had information, the pro-LTTE newspaper said.

Immediately after the Madhu shrine was captured, the newspapers said Jeyaraj had plans to enter the shrine with hundreds of Catholics and started his propaganda. He wanted to take a replica of the statue of Mary to the Pope, get it blessed, and install it on the same altar, from where the Tamil Catholic priests had removed it to the Wanni jungles. Thereafter he wanted to invite Mrs. Shiranthi Rajapaksa to come and declare open it. In fact, the newspaper said, Fernandopulle wanted to tell the world that it was only a pious religious act and not a military adventure.

“There wasn’t a single person as close as him in the cabinet to President Mahinda Rajapaksa,” listing the reasons for the assassination the pro-LTTE newspaper further alleged.

Police say all Rajapaksas and their close allies are on the top of the hit list of the LTTE. Defense Secretary Gotabhaya Rajapaksa and Army Commander Lt. General Sarath Fonseka escaped death with a close shave following two suicide bomb attacks on them.

The newspaper said , at the Eastern Provincial Council elections a political party called Liberation Tigers People’s Front, originally created by the LTTE is running for the elections. The Tamil language newspaper said that this was a deception by Jeyaraj Fernandopulle. The Paraparappu said when the front is defeated Fernandopulle would have been waiting to tell the world that nobody voted for the Tamil Tigers. Officially, either the LTTE proxy party, Tamil National Alliance or the LTTE is not contesting the Eastern Provincial Council elections.

The newspaper only speculated that this was the work of the assassinated leader, but did not substantiate it.

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