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I Had A Dream…

by Gamini Weerakoon

I had a dream. Not like that of Abou Ben Adhem in the poem of Leigh Hunt or the much celebrated dream of Martin Luther King. It was much more confusing. Was I dreaming or was it real?

A corpulent man with a moustache and rings like knuckle dusters on his fingers was shouting: Mama pirewwe neddha? (Didn’t I fill it up?) and an emaciated man with goatee, cap and red shirt hopping on stage and screaming like a kattadiya (devil dancer) exorcising a perethaya (evil spirit), an Indian Goni Billa, Narendra Modi. He was coming over the sea and we had to chase him out with black flags. The date of arrival was Vesak Day. Were we to pull down the Buddhist flag and hang black flags, we wondered? Were we dreaming or was it real?

 

People in Up Country at Indian PM Narendra Modi’ visit

“Modi Yakka was coming here to strike a deal with a Sinhala Yakka called Ranil -  the sale of Trinco Port and establish a commercial Indian empire in the North. Our Sinhala blood is boiling. For two-and-a-half millennia we fought off the Indian Billas. We have to and we will do it again,” the Kattadiya vowed.

The corpulent man on stage who was the Kattadiya’s ‘boss’ stroked his musto and nodded. The immense crowd roared. The threatened exorcism continued…..

 

Modi ‘Billa’ arrives

Vesak Day came. ‘Modi Billa’ arrived. There were no black flags. Buddhist flags fluttered.

Modi drove to BMICH and addressed Sri Lanka’s notable and quotable in the presence of President Maithripala Sirisena and Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe, the latter having been accused of signing secret deals with Modi – selling off Trinco harbour and all that was worth in the North to India. But the so called Joint Opposition with its unofficial boss, Mahinda Rajapaksa and his cohorts were missing at the gathering. Modi went through the standard rhetoric of Indo-Sri Lanka mutual backslapping events – historic and religious bonds and lasting ties between the peoples for millennia, etc.

 

Then he threw the cat among the pigeons

Pointing out to India’s development cooperation with Sri Lanka amounting to US $ 2.6 billion, he said that the aim was ‘to support Sri Lanka in securing peace and a secure future for its people and linked to that of 1.25 billion Indians. ‘Whether it is on land or in the waters of the Indian Ocean, the security of our societies is indivisible’ he said. That was quite a mouthful on Sri Lanka’s security in geopolitical terms.

 

Indivisible security

Security of Sri Lanka and India being linked and being indivisible? Not very many pundits on security and geopolitical affairs would agree, particularly those of the pro-Rajapaksa kind.

But there was no immediate eruption or vituperation. Modi journeyed to the hills to address those described as ‘people of recent Indian Origin’ in Sri Lanka’. He opened a hospital built by India for them and flew out of Lanka without any hoo-ha.

The next day we were reading a morning newspaper when we spotted a small but prominently placed news report: Former President Mahinda Rajapaksa in the company of his brother Gota, the former defence secretary had a meeting with the ‘Indian Billa’, Narendra Modi, at the Indian High Commissioner’s residence on the request made by Mahinda Rajapaksa!

 

Were we dreaming or was it real?

This was straight out of the pages of Ripley’s Believe it or Not. Rajapaksa, for two years and six months, had been accusing the Indian Intelligence Agency, RAW, along with the United States and other Western governments of staging a political coup and throwing him out of power. He did so regularly at remote gatherings in village temples and at massive urban rallies. And the ready-made gullible crowds of ‘tens of thousands’ who agree with anything that Rajapaksa says accepted it as an absolute truth and nothing but the truth.

 

Cordial talks with the ‘Billa

Rajapaksa had cordial discussions with Modi and expressed happiness over Indo-Lanka cooperation over the years, Indian High Commissioner in Colombo Taranjith Singh was quoted saying by the Indian media. However, the loyal Prof.  G. L. Peiris had told the Sri Lankan media that discussions that took place between Modi and Rajapaksa were highly confidential.

Doesn’t those ‘tens of thousands’ of the ‘progressive masses’ supporting Rajapaksa all the way for anything, not have the right to ask what took place between the ‘Indian Billa’ and their boss. They danced for endless hours on the streets, faced tear gas, water cannon, police batons, shouting abuse against those opposing their boss. They were told right along that the Rajapaksa defeat, which was their defeat and it was engineered by the Modi government in collaboration with the American and Western governments.

Now, were they to welcome the chief conspirator who was responsible for throwing out their leader?

Reports on Wednesday said that Rajapaksa had accepted an invitation from Modi to visit New Delhi. What on earth will they talk about? How RAW dethroned Rajapaksa or how Rajapaksa could help to spread Modi’s intellectual contribution to the world: Yoga exercises, such as standing on the head?

Neither the ‘intelligent’ Rajapaksa masses nor their ‘international conspiracy theorists’ have spoken out as yet.

Was Rajapaksa taken up with Modi’s declaration that the security of India and Sri Lanka on land and in the Indian Ocean was indivisibly linked? According to speakers on the Rajapaksa platform, the only security Sri Lanka needed was security from India which promoted separatist terrorism and even sent in their troops to support the terrorist leader.

 

Critics strangled

While saviours of the Sinhala nation were hitching up their sarongs and clearing their throats to lambaste Modi on his statement about the security of Sri Lanka and India on land and the Indian Ocean being linked and indivisible, non-disclosure of the contents of the Modi-Rajapaksa talks as well as the proposed visit to New Delhi, appear to have strangled in their anti-Indian rhetoric.

The main political thrust of the Rajapaksa regime while in power was being anti-Indian and posing off as the bulwark against anti-separatist terrorism – implying hostility to the Tamil community. It was the propaganda thrust both during the Presidential and Parliamentary elections which resonated to some extent in Southern Sinhala areas but not enough to provide and island wide victory. The UNP was identified as being pro-Indian and pro-Tamil and anti-national. This was the rallying cry of the Joint Opposition (with some Marxists remaining silent) till that politically historic day after Vesak when that ‘secret talks’ of Modi and Rajapaksa had taken place was revealed.

 

About turn?

Are we witnessing a right about turn in Rajapaksa politics? Has China ditched the Rajapaksas or vice-versa? Or are Rajapaksas now pro Indian? We keep guessing or are we dreaming?

1 Comment for “I Had A Dream…”

  1. Sira

    Sirisena also had a dream to betray his party, the country, his old boss.

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