Mahinda Rajapakse, Ranil Wickremesinghe
and Jayalalitha Jeyaram
provincial council elections held on a staggered basis
have been the main focus in the country’s political
arena during the past few months.
Although the government could have held the provincial
polls on a single day, it opted instead to hold them on
a staggered basis fully capitalising on the military
offensive in the north.
government believed that the elections held on a
staggered basis would result in the main opposition UNP
suffering humiliating defeats thanks to the war
provincial polls in the Uva and Southern Provinces
according to government sources are to be held next,
between August and September.
reason for the government to create a break in the
pattern maintained with regard to provincial polls is
due to the general elections being held in neighbouring
The President believed it to be beneficial for the
government to await the outcome of the Indian general
elections before making a decision on holding elections
for the Uva and Southern Provinces.
main topic of discussion at Temple Trees these days is
the Indian elections. The President it is learnt is in
constant contact with Indian High Commissioner in
Colombo Alok Prasad inquiring after the latest reports
on the elections from New Delhi.
According to surveys conducted on the Indian election,
the AIDMK led by Jayalalitha Jeyaram is expected to
secure a majority of the 39 seats in the state of Tamil
Nadu. At the previous elections, it was the DMK led by
M. Karunanidhi that secured a majority.
Political analysts in Tamil Nadu say that Jayalalitha
would secure a majority this time around due to the
sentiments of the people in the state on the worsening
plight of civilians in the Wanni. Since Jayalalitha is
perceived to be the Tamil political leader fighting to
safeguard the rights of the Tamil civilians in northern
analysts expect her to emerge victorious at the
Another prediction of Indian political analysts is that
neither the Congress Party nor the BJP would be able to
secure the numbers to form a government of its own.
Therefore, Jayalalitha is expected to play a key role in
the formation of the next government in India.
the stance maintained by Jayalalitha with regard to the
Sri Lankan issue, the Mahinda Rajapakse administration
is now keeping a close watch on the developments in
in this backdrop that Jayalalitha was quoted in the
media as saying there is genocide of Tamil civilians in
northern Sri Lanka and that the solution was for the
Indian forces to invade Sri Lanka and carve out Eelam
for the Tamils.
Bangladesh as an example, Jayalalitha has said that like
former Prime Minister Indira Gandhi who sent an Indian
force to Bangladesh to create a separate state, another
Indian force should be sent to Sri Lanka to form a
separate state for the Tamils.
Jayalalitha also pledged to the Tamil Nadu people that
no matter what party calls her to form the next
government she would definitely lay down the need to
form a separate Eelam state in Sri Lanka as a condition
for a coalition.
another strong statement, she said that action would be
taken against Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh for
providing military aid to the Sri Lankan government that
was carrying out attacks against the Tamils in Sri
strong comments made by Jayalalitha have disturbed the
Rajapakse government. Jayalalitha has now become the
biggest headache for the Rajapakses.
predicted by Indian political analysts, if Jayalalitha
becomes the deciding factor in the formation of the next
central government in India, the repercussions on Sri
Lanka would indeed have to be considered.
Jayalalitha go ahead with her threat? Would she form an
alliance with the West that is largely against the
conduct of the war? What would then become of the
Mahinda Rajapakse administration? These are the
questions that are dogging Temple Trees these days.
the London Telegraph questioned Defence Secretary
Gotabaya Rajapakse on the statement made by Jayalalitha
he had said the statement was part of election
propaganda. He had also said that an Indian force would
not invade Sri Lanka, especially since the final
decision on such a matter lay with the central
government of India.
According to Gotabaya, India knows too well the
repercussions it would have to face if unstable
conditions were created in neighbouring Sri Lanka.
fact is that although Jayalalitha made the statement as
part of her election campaign in a bid to secure votes
at the Indian general election, she would not be able to
change her stance once in an alliance.
Jayalalitha, her performance at the Tamil Nadu state
elections is more important than that at the Indian
general election for she believes it is the right
platform to take over the reigns from Karunanidhi.
Therefore, the period between the formation of the
central government and the Tamil Nadu state elections
would be crucial for Jayalalitha. Her actions during
this period would determine her future role in Tamil
Irrespective of the dismissive comments made by the Sri
Lankan government on Jayalalitha’s statements, she would
not be able to veer away from the pledge made by her
before the people of Tamil Nadu.
antagonised the immediate neighbour Sri Lanka’s
isolation in the international community has become more
pronounced during the past few months and is now evident
even to the masses.
hands-off stance maintained by the government with
regard to the international community is attributed as
the main reason behind the country’s isolation largely
by the West. In fact, the international community is now
looking at building a dialogue with the opposition as
opposed to the government.
Opposition and UNP Leader Ranil Wickremesinghe left on
an official tour of the EU last week. As part of the
tour Wickremesinghe also decided to visit Oslo following
an invitation from the Norwegians.
Meanwhile, President Mahinda Rajapakse left for Jordan
last week as part of his tour to attend the G11 summit.
Although some of the member countries will be
represented by the foreign ministers or other senior
ministers of the respective countries at the summit, Sri
Lanka will be represented by its President.
However, the state media last week carried out a
campaign against Wickremesinghe’s tour to
and the EU. It was alleged that Wickremesinghe would be
visiting these countries to call on them to force a
and to get sanctions imposed on the country.
government believed with such a media campaign it could
redeem itself to some degree from its foreign policy
bungling that has led to its international isolation.
fact that the Sri Lankan Head of State four years in to
his term is yet to be invited by any First World country
speaks volumes of the country’s increasing isolation. So
far all the visits by the present Head of State to
Western capitals have been to attend international
Heads of State like J.R. Jayewardene, R. Premadasa and
Chandrika Kumaratunga during their terms in office were
regularly invited by First World countries to develop
Wickremesinghe during his brief tenure as prime minister
developed on these international relations and managed
to secure for the country an aid package of US$ 4.5
in this backdrop that the state media has unleashed a
mud slinging campaign against Wickremesinghe. However,
reports indicate that Wickremesinghe’s security has been
tightened in all the countries he is due to visit in
Europe due to the protests organised by LTTE
sympathisers in the respective countries.
must be recalled that the LTTE did all it could to
prevent Wickremesinghe from winning the 2005
presidential election and even enforced a boycott of the
poll in the north and east where the UNP candidate was
assured of a substantial vote base thanks to the peace
dividend the electorate enjoyed. As a result the Tigers
perceived Wickremesinghe to be a bigger threat to their
survival than Mahinda Rajapakse at the time. As
insurance Wickremesinghe had the Tigers cleverly
entangled in an international net which ofcourse came
undone with the advent of the Rajapakse regime.
years later it seems the Europeans were taking no
chances with the Sri Lankan Opposition Leader’s security
notwithstanding state media hyperbole of Wickremesinghe
being the darling of the desperate Tigers.
Wickremesinghe who generally travels from the airport to
the hotel sans any security, this time around has been
provided with a security contingent by the respective
countries for his personal security.
Officials have also noted that the ‘playing-up’ of
Wickremesinghe’s official tour to Norway and the EU by
the Sri Lankan government has increased the threat to
the Opposition Leader’s life.
Norwegian government had even taken steps to change
Wickremesinghe’s hotel reservation for security reasons.
Wickremesinghe was also informed that his security in
the UK, France and Brussels, where he was also planning
to visit, was compromised since sensitive details about
his tour were being continuously released by the Sri
Wickremesinghe was asked if he wanted to cancel his tour
and return to Sri Lanka, he has informed the officials
that as Asian President of the International Democratic
Union he would attend its sessions to be held in
Brussels. The fact however remains that the government’s
campaign against Wickremesinghe’s overseas tour has
placed his life at risk.
government that claims to have no use for the
international community in the name of national interest
continues to request the EU to grant the GSP+ facility
while also calling on them to support the country secure
the US$ 1.9 billion stand by facility requested from the
defectors in a bind
UNP Democratic Group formed by the 17 defectors formerly
led by Karu Jayasuriya has received strict orders from
President Mahinda Rajapakse to move away from their UNP
identity if they wished to continue with their political
careers as members of the government.
UNP defectors have now been reduced to 16 with
Jayasuriya’s return to the UNP.
However, after joining the government, these UNP
defectors identified themselves as the UNP Democratic
Group. The group even established their own party
headquarters and pledged to follow the “true policies”
of the UNP. The group of 16 defectors is now unable to
determine for themselves the next course of action to be
taken. Some of the defectors have even accepted posts as
electoral organisers for the SLFP. Meanwhile the owner
has reacquired the building where the group’s
headquarters was based.
after joining the government, the defectors did not
receive the good graces of the President. Although the
President made several attempts to sideline the
defectors, these efforts failed due to the stance
maintained by the then leader of the defectors group,
However, with Jayasuriya’s return to the UNP, the
President made his move to dissolve the UNP (D) Group.
The President issued a directive to the UNP defectors to
discard their UNP identity. They were also told not to
wear green garments when taking part at SLFP political
Interestingly, it was Minister Hemakumara Nanayakkara
who first adhered to the President’s call. Nanayakkara,
who always wore a green satakaya has now replaced it
with a blue one.