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    Twelfth Rajapaksa from Giruwapaththuwa to politics…

    November 20, 2019

    K.K.S. Perera
    President Gotabaya Rajapaksa addressing the nation at the swearing-in ceremony at the Ruwanwelisaya in Anuradhapura on Monday. - Picture by Wasitha Patabendige
    President Gotabaya Rajapaksa addressing the nation at the swearing-in ceremony at the Ruwanwelisaya in Anuradhapura on Monday. - Picture by Wasitha Patabendige
    The twelfth Rajapaksa from Ruhunu Giruwapaththuwa to politics, had avoided the hierarchy or ranking to enter the highest office in island’s echelons sans the trade mark Kurahan Satakaya.

    “I knew that I could win with only the votes of the Sinhala majority. But I wanted Tamils and Muslims to be a part of my success. Their response was not what I expected. However, I urge them to join me to build one Sri Lanka.” --Speaking like a true statesman, at the swearing ceremony held at ancient capital the new President declared. The poll was remarkably peaceful; now the election is over. Apart from a few negligible incidents of intimidation, on the whole it was free of violence, a fact that has been accepted by the foreign observers and district returning officers. The silent majority had determined the result of the election, and not those crazy flag-waving mobs. The total overall voter presence was as high as 84% compared to low turnout in the developed nations which average 45-55%, that too, under compulsion.

    Nandasena Gotabaya Rajapaksa, born in Palatuwa in the Matara district to one of Sri Lanka's most powerful political families, on June 20, 1949, is a former military officer. Gota as he was affectionately known, is the seventh Executive President of Sri Lanka having won over 50 per cent votes in the Presidential election held a few days ago. Though he contested from the Sri Lanka Podujana Peramuna, [SLPP] which is lead by his brother, former President Mahinda Rajapaksa, he has not accepted its membership yet. We believe he would continue to be an independent President with no political affiliations. He served as Secretary to the Ministry of Defence and Urban Development from 2005 to 2015 under the administration of his brother, and led the Armed Forces to the military defeat of ‘invincible’ LTTE, ending the 30-year Civil War. The name Gotabaya means “Abhaya, the Giant” or “Chinna Kotta” in the Jat language, as per well known writer, Narada Karunthilaka.

    Rajapaksa ancestry

    The rural land-owners from the village Giruwapattuwa in the deep south of Hambantota district, Rajapaksas first entered politics when Don David Rajapaksa, was appointed to the feudal post of Vidanarachchi by Colonial rule in the late 19th century. Two of Don David’s sons, Don Mathew and Don Alvin later were elected by the people to represent them in the State Council of Ceylon in mid-20th century. DM had two sons who went to Royal College, named Lakshman and George. They both entered the Parliament and held Ministerial portfolios. The family continued to dominate Hambantota district politics for next three decades. The Rajapaksas were represented in the legislatures from 1936 till 1977 as anti-UNPers, until the UNP landslide in 1977, and up to 1989. [with the postponement of elections in 1982]. The rest is contemporary political history.

    In his policy statement to the electorate President clearly stated that his prime concern was, priority to national security. Among other main points he raised were, constitutional reforms, clean governance, a society based on technology, people centric economy, development of natural resources, disciplined, law abiding and a moral society, fruitful human resources and sustainable environmental management. “I am speaking you as your Executive President, and the Defence Minister who is in charge of you and your children’s security,” President Rajapaksa continued his inauguration speech. “My main mission would be to guarantee that our nation which is once again under threat from radical and extremists is protected and secured. We have to make certain that the peace and harmony that we won with much sacrifice is preserved”. Guaranteeing a secure nation for all communities, he said,“We have to ensure that the Sinhala, Tamil, Muslim, and other minority groups of Sri Lanka are able to live together cordially, with respect and dignity in an undivided nation, under one statute.”

    The masses in the country, we believe, has granted President Rajapaksa a task with confidence and expectations. He should make a firm determination and resolve that trust throughout his term and do not disregard, overlook or betray it under any circumstance. He should seek the help of experienced, thoughtful advisers willing to disagree or challenge him on issues.

    He must act on his own after listening to views. He should ensure Sri Lanka play a neutral role in world geo-politics.

    Viyath Maga

    Viyath Maga Convention under the theme ‘An Intellectually Inspired Sri Lanka’ was an introductory propaganda assembly launched to enhance the image of Gotabaya. Gota assembled a team of intellectually renowned, expatriates and locals to conduct lectures at these seminars.

    He must learn that the rulers must have a secular outlook and approach in a multi-cultural nation; that having emotional, religious terms in the Constitution to satisfy the majority, is in conflict with the declared theme. Intellectual encouragement can flow, only from secular outlook.

    We have to change the mindset of people, from their ‘Sinhala Buddhist’ thinking to secularist, thinking, based on rational Inspiration. The challenges before the newly elected President are daunting. They who came with a promise to clean up politics of corruption in 2015, emerged as an establishment of worst crooks, rogues, and drivers of massive robberies, they did not spare national assets including the Central bank of Sri Lanka.

    The triumph is going to be an enormous vote of confidence in the promises and policies. The newly elected President has spoken like a leader; he has to prove his worth. It is essential that he make good all that if the people who chose him are not to be let down. A general election is to be held sooner or later and his lineup contesting has to be packed with perfect men and women. He has engineered a paradigm shift, now he has to make certain that the change he promised will definitely be for the betterment of nation.

    Survived an assassination attempt

    The Bishopians in the close vicinity were practicing a Christmas carol when the disaster occurred; the music teacher ordered the students to lie down on the floor as a protective measure. The suicide bomber in a three-wheeler struck as the convoy carrying Gotabaya stopped due to traffic at Pittala Handiya in Collpety. The LTTE bomber, carrying a ten kilogram bomb had been following the Defence Secretary’s fleet.

    Security men in backup vehicle cut across the path of the wheeler just before he detonated himself. Rajapaksa who was unharmed because of the bullet proof vehicle, was immediately pulled out of his car and rushed to the Temple Trees. While commandos cleared the area of traffic. Field Marshal Sarath Fonseka claimed that Gotabaya Rajapaksa, himself engineered the attack on his own convoy at Kollupitiya, on December 1, 2006. But a valuable piece of evidence surfaced on the gas mask of the bomber that was found in the vehicle in which Gota travelled on that day.

    The twelfth Rajapaksa from Ruhunu Giruwapaththuwa to politics, had avoided the hierarchy or ranking to enter the highest office in island’s echelons sans the trade mark Kurahan Sataskaya. A sign of change that the people envisaged?


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