The Sunday Leader

Rajapaksa Blitzkrieg; Basil’s Empire

“To see what is in front of one’s nose needs a constant struggle.”
— George Orwell

By Tisaranee Gunasekara

President Mahinda Rajapaksa and brother Basil

As the latest WikiLeaks-cables reveal, lies and deception occupy a position of honour in the Rajapaksa modus operandi. Open defiance is not the Rajapaksa way, when operating in an unfavourable climate of opinion. Instead, the siblings favour the stealthy approach of Velupillai Pirapaharan, using deceptive declarations and false promises to camouflage a ruthless will and a steely determination. Thus they bedevil critics and disarm opponents, until the ground reality changes and their objective becomes a fait accompli.
Understanding the Rajapaksa Way is important because the siblings are planning the next critical step, aimed at nullifying the 13th Amendment and debasing parliamentary sovereignty, both sources of countervailing power and thus inimical to Rajapaksas supremacy. Legislation to set up Jana Sabhas will be presented in parliament in April. Jana Sabhas will not be elected institutions; their members will be appointed by the Rajapaksas and their acolytes. Barring a few token credentialed members, an absolute majority of these appointees will be political stooges whose main – and perhaps sole – qualification will be unquestioning loyalty not to the SLFP/UPFA but to the Rajapaksa Family.
Mahinda Rajapaksa is the ‘uncrowned Ruler-King’ and one brother is the omnipotent Defence-Czar; the Jana Sabha system will establish another Rajapaksa-sibling as the almighty Development-Czar.
The process is already underway. This is to be Brother Basil’s empire and he has reportedly “made arrangements to enrol 5,000 graduates at village level…. purely on the recommendation of SLFP electoral organisers without conducting an interview (The Colombo Times – 14.5.2010). These unelected institutions choking with Rajapaksa-loyalists will have total control over local government authorities and provincial councils, according to Minister Susil Premjayanth. Local or provincial authorities will not be able to implement any development project without their approval; no approval, no project. “The Jana Sabhas would also have control on how the decentralized budget for MPs….would be spent” (The Sunday Times – 20.3.2011).
The 18th Amendment nullified the 17th Amendment by turning independent commissions into presidential appendages. Jana Sabhas (19th Amendment?) will nullify the 13th Amendment by disempowering provincial councils (according to Minister Dinesh Gunawardena, Jana Sabhas will be multi-ethnic in composition – i.e. they will include some Tamils and Muslims who are Rajapaksa loyalists).
The new system will also undermine a parliamentarian’s capacity to implement development projects of his/her choice. Jana Sabhas will thus be a crucial milestone in the ongoing effort to Rajapaksaise the Lankan state, from the very top to the very bottom. As Minister Wimal Weerawansa said, “The ultimate objective of this concept is to ensure that the development work is closely monitored by a small group that has an awareness of the needs of the area” (ibid).
The local government elections were relatively free and extremely unfair. Though large-scale rigging was absent, state power and resources were abused blatantly and overwhelmingly. Yet, the UPFA’s average vote declined, by 2.7% compared to 2010 Presidential election and by 5.4% compared to 2010 Parliamentary election! The government is still popular, but less so than it was one year ago. If this downward trend persists, the Rajapaksas might find winning the next presidential and parliamentary elections an uphill task, without unleashing violence and malpractices, on a massive scale.
The siblings, infinitely more farseeing than their enemies, obviously sense this problematic future and are preparing to deal with it. The 18th Amendment was an important step in this direction. Its results are obvious in the conduct of the Elections Commissioner who admitted, post-facto, to the “occurrence of incidents of thuggery…..during the period of the nominations and subsequently” and the “misuse of State resources and State owned media” – and yet did next-to-nothing to stem this tide of irregularities. This catatonic-state was partly sourced in the 18th Amendment, which disempowered his post, turning him from an autonomous-guardian of the electoral process into a presidential functionary.
Jana Sabhas will be the next logical step in this process of creating a Rajapaksa-centric system (the Rajapaksas give and the Rajapaksas take away) which consciously discourages independence and integrity by rewarding servility and punishing dissent. The new system will devalue all elected institutions, making them increasingly irrelevant in politico-economic terms. It will enable the Rajapaksas to reward ‘loyal’ areas and punish ‘disloyal’ ones by delivering or withholding development projects.
If this insidious system comes into operation, the Rajapaksas will be able not only to revenge on dissenting voters but turn those SLFP/UPFA politicians they deem insufficiently loyal into political-eunuchs by taking away their ability to look after their own constituents. The electorate will get the message soon enough, and not just the opposition but even those SLFPers who are not Rajapaksa stooges will wither away, leaving the Ruling Family in total control over the state and the governing party.


Understanding how the Rajapaksas came this far, this fast (under six years) is vital to comprehending where they are headed and how they intend to get there.
According to WikiLeak cables, President Rajapaksa used two tactics to allay Indian and Western fears about the human cost of the war and his post-conflict intentions. He promised a ceasefire and a political solution to the ethnic problem. The Indians chose to believe him and persuaded the Americans to follow suit. According to the first cable, Indian National Security Adviser M.K. Narayanan told the American Ambassador that “President Rajapaksa had agreed to announce on April 27 a cessation of hostilities with the LTTE…..” after consulting his cabinet and to stay silent, “until Rajapaksa fulfils his pledge and announces the pause”.
The promised ‘pause’ never happened; perhaps the President informed Delhi that hardliners in his cabinet blocked him!
According to the second cable, Narayanan assured the Americans that President Rajapaksa, “intends to pursue political devolution (‘the 13th Amendment plus’) and will make a gesture soon to win over Sri Lanka’s Tamils. Narayanan mentioned that Sri Lankan Defense Secretary Gotabaya was currently paying a visit to New Delhi”. Indians were concerned about “higher casualty figures” and acknowledged that “pressure needed to be put on the Sri Lankan government to limit the harm caused to civilians” but cautioned the Americans that “bilateral diplomacy would be more effective than highly public pressure in the UN Security Council or the Human Rights Council”.
India trusted Velupillai Pirapaharan at the commencement of the Eelam War and burnt a finger and an arm. India trusted the Rajapaksa siblings at the end of the Eelam War (probably on the rebound) and ended up humiliated and option-less.
Understanding this Rajapaksa method (irrespective of whether one is pro or anti-Tiger) is important, because this is the way the brothers deal with internal opposition as well. This, for instance, is the method they adopted vis-à-vis the critical 18th Amendment: pretend to retreat in the face of opposition; resume the Blitzkrieg when the opposition has disarmed itself.
The lies and deception work not just because the Rajapaksas are masterly illusionists but also because the intended victims choose to ignore the obvious. When will we realise that the siblings want not national-sovereignty but Rajapaksa-sovereignty? Or that the empowerment of Rajapaksas (via Jana Sabhas, for instance) means powerlessness for the rest of polity and society?

33 Comments for “Rajapaksa Blitzkrieg; Basil’s Empire”

  1. prethi

    We need more & more information from WikiLeak Cables about this dictator, he is worse than Sadam Hussain.

    • Hosni Mubarak is good example. If unprofessional man elected there are lot of things to come over, Tamil Diaspora, Economic , Indian innovation, West relation, bankrupt harbours & state organizations.

  2. nilanthie

    A small number of Fonseka’s men could bring rapid popular change.

  3. Rajapakse

    There is a simple solution to these problems – everybody must change their name by deed poll to Rajapaksha. Everybody becomes a VIP. Everybody becomes rich. Everybody is happy.

  4. Mahen

    Sri Lanka is the next country to follow suit like in the Middle East crisis. Rajapakse family be aware. Your time is up.

  5. The Rajapaksas are re-inscribing the Sri Lankan state with their own particular brand of dynastic-democracy: the people have the ‘democratic’ right to choose Rajapaksas and their accolytes to govern them.

  6. velicham

    If ” The law of Cause and Effect” is true .., then Srilanka nd it’s people will have a lot to pay and that yet to come!

    • Czechoslovakia was bidluing an enormous monument of Stalin when he died – and it got blown up up two years later, it nearly bankrupted the war-ravaged place. In the 1950s half the homes in Prague were leaking and crumbling – there is a museum in Prague about all this – not that the cheerleaders of socialism acknowledged that.

  7. Lakshman Abeywardene

    The weay Rajapaksha are messing upm our democracy and freedoms, the day people carry SF to Temple Trees on their shoulders will be closer than one thinks.

  8. sri

    National bootlickers club is what is on the cards. Law of the jungle is very evident. Anything goes by fiat.

  9. Dinu Senanayake

    Thanks For this Tihsaranee. Three Comments:
    1) The Rajapaksas will have over played their hand and will reach the tipping point with this move.. so let it go through! In the long run, it will only hasten their demise. After this. people at the local and provincial level will know the truth about them..
    2) The more important task I recon is to get rid of Ranil Wickramasinghe and get Karu and Rosie Senanayake in as leader and deputy to lead the UNP since THERE IS NO ALTERNATIVE to Rajapakse Inc. at this time.
    3) It is important to know the Indian method too. Delhi wanted the LTTE, which was once trained and funded by RAW and Intelligence Bureau or IB, and Prabakaran finished, make no mistake about it – that was priority no. one. Prabakaran had killed Rajiv Gandhi in the most humiliating ‘blow back’ that the Indians have ever had. Tamil civilians were ONLY priority two, and thus the end game unfolded… whatever the Indian establishment may say now or on wikkileaks.

  10. LELA

    My god, I feel sorry for you Sri lankans, this Rajapaksa guy is ripping you half wits a new one, and all of you seem happy about it. What a bunch of mutts.

    • Ma-Rout-Ti

      Save your muttish half-wit tears for the political antics in your own country.

  11. Lokka

    I am not a Rajapakse supporter. That said NO ONE…Sunday Leader or any political leader has produced absolute documentary proof of anything the Rajapakse family has done. We have heard of all the wealth and property they have acquired over the last couple of years. And I for one, have reason to believe they have done that. No smoke without fire?
    That said, let those who claim to know more than I do, prove in the court of public opinion just a few of those corrupt cases. If other countries are able to do that how is it that us Sri Lankans only talk!!

    • Ma-Rout-Ti

      Well, who needs evidence when we have journalistic “artists” like this author – who take a good deal or “artistic license” when penning their pieces for consumption in the diaspora websites ?

    • Sen

      Lokka, if anyone publishes the evidence, they will have to publish the obiturary of themselves as well, that is the state of affairs under MR clan. you know it and all know it too.

      • paul

        Do not fear Sen… this day and age with instant communication and the internet just send the evidence anonymously to a reputed news paper overseas.. they will do the job for you..

    • Gimmy

      The proof is there in reality for you to see you fool!

    • what

      in which courts? sri lankan courts, bwhahaaa!! like the peace & reconsiliation committee! while constructing a defence building on a cemetery! now that is real reconciliation!

    • Noxurs

      You probably dont know that one Rajapaksa family member is currently making a movie , a feature involving cricket and the cost of production is Rs. 100 million. This movie is made to be on par with Bollywood productions and the 100 million rupee question is how can one man spend so much money for one film when he is not a businessman or a professional. Of course Rajapaksa name is not connected to the film in any way and a young man is appearing on behalf of them as producer.

  12. LankaLiar

    All Sri Lanka needs is a feww MKRs $Rams Mugargees MKs in India. Then Sri Lanka can rule India without any problem. Perhaps now Sri Lanka can tell India to be honest.

  13. HUD

    “Jana Sabhas will not be elected institutions; their members will be appointed by the Rajapaksas and their acolytes……” Do you have any legible evidence to support this claim? Or just hypothesizing?

  14. HUD

    “The Colombo Times” ….WOW! What a prestige and trustworthy citation to support your claim?

  15. Tom Sam USA

    The move by the pakse thugs have moved the sinking island analogous to Libya.
    Their fate would be that of gaddafy, not by the minorities but their own kith and kin.

  16. what

    i wonder what the troublesome threesome will say about the sore loss of the WC circket fnal. “wiki leaks”, Wiki is childs name for Viking and Vikings come from Norway … ooopss, i have just given the clue away ….

  17. Leslie

    A load of rubbish being dished out by the newspaper that is so pro the traitors, hypocrites and the thugs.
    Provide proof which you cannot. Report with facts than just trying to sling mud on a leader who has saved our country from the ruthless murderers the LTTE.

    • what

      and in the process they’ve lost the respect of the rest of the world!

      • True, I agree. Having one child or five doesn’t mean that pnraets have to lose the plot and spoil their child/children rotten. It is a parent’s responsibility to give their children the best they can, but not at the cost of losing sight of what is important and what is not.

  18. anura keppetipola

    dictators always think they can go on forever.

  19. Senadeera

    Sri Lanka will be next Egypt………… we are waiting for that to hpn.

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