The Sunday Leader

Long Marches Of Mao Zedong And Rajapaksa

The Padayatra that was launched on Thursday by supporters of former president Mahinda Rajapaksa was in the tradition of the Long March of Mao Zedong and also probably of the not-so-long March of Che Guevara. These marches – long or short – have the basic objective of rallying support of the countryside to their beleaguered political organisations with the ultimate objective of rolling the heads of leaders of established governments.

Mao’s 9000km long march, that took more than one year, was immensely successful and contributed to the Communist Party of China headed by Mao ruling China. Che Guevara, the charismatic revolutionary who succeeded with Fidel Castro and his comrades in seizing power in Cuba, was not as successful as Mao in his March into the Bolivian countryside. Peasants in the impoverished Nancahuazu valley, where he pitched camp, did not flock to his guerilla band and he was cornered by the army and killed.

Mahinda Rajapaksa’s ‘historic’ Padayatra traversing 125km with his cheer squads, who will be on the rubber carpeted Kandy-Colombo road for three days, is of a different kind to those long and short marches of Mao and Che. An anticipated ‘historic’ clash between his supporters and UNP supporters (who gathered in Kandy town for recruitment day of new members) was averted by a magisterial order to commence the March outside limits of Kandy town. Whether impoverished peasants living on both sides of Kandy road will rush to join the March and carry Rajapaksa and his faithful on their shoulders all the way to Colombo is to be seen.

(These comments are being written on Friday morning, the second day of the March). It would indeed be a ridiculous act on the part of the people because they have already paid millions in taxes for duty free cars of Rajapaksa and his legislative cheer leaders.

The literal translation of Padayatra in Sinhala means sailing on foot. Thus, the question arises whether Rajapaksa and his band will physically walk the 125km or in air-conditioned comfort of their duty free vehicles. Since Padayatra means sailing by foot, they could justify doing it in air- conditioned comfort.

Mao and his followers in contrast walked through the most difficult terrain from South East China to the North East scaling impossibly steep mountains and swimming mighty waterways like the Yellow River.

Mao’s Long March commenced as a military retreat of the beleaguered Communist forces who were threatened with extinction by the Kuo Ming Tang forces of Chiang -Kai-Shek. Are Rajapaksa’s political forces reduced to such a pathetic state that he has to go on a recruitment drive with a Padayatra? Does he and his advisers really believe that the Yahapalanaya can be toppled with such political hi- jinks?

The defeated president is desperate to throw out the Sirisena-Wickremasinghe government. Unabashedly, he says that the reason for throwing out the government is for him to seize power. But he does not speak about the policies he would adopt when in power.

What are his political and economic strategies to resolve the problems faced by the current government? He does not admit to a single mistake committed during his ten-year regime. Thus is it to be concluded that he will continue with the same policies that has led Sri Lanka into a severe debt trap?

Is it to borrow heavily from foreign countries and institutions at unprecedented rates of interest and expend the loans taken on narcissistic projects that would bring no returns in the near future but hope that the masses would be bamboozled about his greatness? Of course all these projects have the common objective of power crazy dictators: Immortality.

The war against terrorism, which was won by many who even sacrificed their lives but is claimed solely by him – and to a little extent by his brother – is his sole justification for his political resurrection. But the problems precipitated by his decisions which had led to alleged violation of human rights and even war crimes are still with the nation.

Sri Lanka was considered an international pariah nation by world leaders the time of his inglorious exit .The present government has been able to re-coup the situation to some extent but Rajapaksa for sheer political expediency is attempting to undo what has been achieved and has commenced his racist tattoo on Sinhala war drums.

Should a nation be so unfortunate to have such leaders?

Patriotism demands that political leaders, even in defeat, place country before self-interests.

We see Rajapaksa the self–proclaimed patriot is doing exactly the reverse.

The least what he could do is to offer solutions on how problems created by him – the financial crisis and the human rights-war crimes issue – can be resolved. If he has no solution the sensible thing to do is to support the government’s policies in resolving those issues.

The former president could do better for the country and himself by attempting to resolve national problems and not creating them by bringing in misguided people on to the streets, behaving like a political rastiyadu.

3 Comments for “Long Marches Of Mao Zedong And Rajapaksa”

  1. Crisantha

    What a sad lot is MR clan today. Over 45 financial scams bleeding the country of debt are being investigated along with barn door murders. Many members were jailed. Billions were wasted on white elephant projects such as Mattala to propel their stupid ego.Law enforcement was turned to a private army to do their killings as well as to hide them. Shamed and ridiculed internationally. Built many mansions, used helicopters to travel free, lambogini’s were used to ‘serve the poor’.
    Doesn’t this pathetic clan realise that they could have been in power up to now if not for the greed to get power for their generation. How much are they trying to fool Lanka again but they should realise their future is only in the jail.

  2. John Appaswamy


    Given that all you have written above is true, WHY has the GOSL, through it’s legal system, the Sri Lanka Police, given permission for this ‘sailing on foot’.. ?

    Didn’t they (the Rajapakses) apply for & get granted, permission to lead a large contingent of public on the public roads. These ae public roads after all. Police have to give permission for marches (or anything for that matter)on public roads…?

  3. Sri Lankans are not true to one another based on facts, and we do not
    see each other as we really are.

    We are only true to our misconceived ideas of one another.

    Most of the pain, injury and sufferings are caused to others by our
    misconceived ideas or illusions.

    Good, unbiased and truthful education or learning by a person, removes
    to a greater extent, the illusions of life.

    The uneducated or the unlearned or rather the stupid, demand total
    submission and perfection, on their terms, from persons, for their
    misconceived ideas or wrong illusions. When they do not get that
    submission and perfection, they become cruel and vindictive.

    Presently in SL, MR and his “Joint opposition”, deliberately spread
    illusions against the genuine, realistic and pragmatic approach by GSL
    to bring peace, stability and prosperity to all the citizens.

    In this “war”, it is the responsibility of the learned persons to
    publicly and openly expose illusions, so that the country can have a
    good future

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