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Fall out of the Indian elections

Mahinda Rajapakse, Ranil Wickremesinghe
and Jayalalitha Jeyaram

The 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.

The government believed that the elections held on a staggered basis would result in the main opposition UNP suffering humiliating defeats thanks to the war successes.

The provincial polls in the Uva and Southern Provinces according to government sources are to be held next, between August and September.

The 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 India. 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.

Indian elections

The 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 Sri Lanka, analysts expect her to emerge victorious at the elections.

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.

Given 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 India.


It is 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.

Citing 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.

Making 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 Lanka.

These strong comments made by Jayalalitha have disturbed the Rajapakse government. Jayalalitha has now become the biggest headache for the Rajapakses.

Deciding factor

As 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.

Will 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.

When 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.

The 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.

Tamil Nadu State elections

For 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 Nadu politics.

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.

Having 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.


The 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 Norway and the EU. It was alleged that Wickremesinghe would be visiting these countries to call on them to force a ceasefire upon Sri Lanka and to get sanctions imposed on the country.

Government propaganda

The 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.

The 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 summits.

Former 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 bilateral relations.

Even 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 billion.

Mud slinging campaign

It is 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.

It 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.

Four 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.

Hotel reservation changed

The 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 Lankan government.

When 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.

The 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 IMF.

UNP defectors in a bind

The 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.

The 17 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.

Even 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, Jayasuriya.

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 events.

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.




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