Rajapakse's one big dysfunctional friend
really should have been there to see the Indian ambassador the day
that Mahinda Rajapakse was made Prime Minister after the PA victory
over Ranil Wickremesinghe's UNP in April 2004. Grinning from ear
to ear was this diplomat, the first to arrive after the PM's appointment,
at Rajapakse's quite un-imposing then private home in Thimbirigasyaya.
Everybody there including politicians and Editors were treated by
the Indian ambassador with a Delhi dose of joi d'vivre and exuberance,
as if they have all been part of this happy conspiracy to get India's
buddy Mahinda Rajapakse elected Prime Minister against all odds
and despite a baying outfit of dissenters.
presidential elections in 2005, the same ambassador wasn't occupying
India House anymore, but India's sympathies were known unless you
were particularly dense or did no know any Indian journalists. They
all backed Rajapakse, those Indian scribes, almost to the point
of being belligerent if it was suggested that Ranil Wickremesinghe
might have a chance also.
Rajapakse may be accused of being an India panda now - -- a man
pandering hopelessly to the Indian ambassador's Femina-cover guiles
-- ditching protocol and meeting Mr. Thondaman for a trouble shooting
exercise in what's adamantly being referred to by commentators as
Indian territory, the Indian ambassador's residence.
this particular India panda was engaged in a highly reciprocated
relationship. India made a spectacle of backing him. By this default,
they made sure they got the message across that Ranil Wickremesinghe
was their specially tended pariah.
when India trashes Rajapakse and refuses to sign a defense pact
because the manic depressive politicians of Tamilnadu are rooting
for the Tigers, it appears, specially in view of this reciprocated
relationship that India is nothing but a tease.
Raja-pakse will be correct to call India a tease even though protocol
and pragmatism doesn't even allow him to do so. India is such a
tease that if this was a British woman and not a South Asian country
we are talking about, India could have got sued. (There is special
legislation now in Britain to sue women who lead men on with the
promise of conjugal union, and bail out at the last moment. Trust
these British to resort to legal recourse even in uncomplicated
matters of intercourse…)
as they always say, this is India. How many times you would have
heard or read that phrase in your life? 'They travel on the rooftops
of trains in that country', I've heard from the time I was a tot,
and by the time I was a teenager I heard that they also travel on
the tops of trains in Malawi, but at least in that African country
there is a waiter on the roof dressed impeccably calling himself
a steward who serves tea and snacks traipsing deftly across bogeys
as if he was waiting on table at the Hilton.
that's in Malawi - - and this is India, where buses breakdown and
it took me three bus breakdowns and two days to move from new Delhi
to Srinagar in Kashmir. This is India, where relationships, and
particularly diplomatic ones, breakdown as fast as buses, which
is why India wants Sri Lanka to accept the rebuff and the decision
not to sign the defense pact as all in a day's work. It's in deference,
we are told, to the Tamilnadu lightning rods, the Vaikos and those
fire eating pan-Tamilian zealots.
Sri Lanka accept this routine offhand relationship, and take India's
compensations of offering an extended credit line -- some kind of
a Bajaj compromise for being utterly undependable?
Mahinda Rajapakse had a choice, he shouldn't. Received wisdom says
that small countries do not have any manoeuvre room when the giant
sharks such as India canoodle, but look what happened in the 1960s
and I'm not quite sure about that anymore.
say now in the news this week, nonchalantly as if a 43 year interval
was a commercial break, that it was Fidel Castro that got John and
Robert Kennedy killed, even though it has been known for scores
of years now that the Kennedys ordered the assassination of Castro
and wanted the plot carried out with ingeneous devices such as revolvers
disguised as fountain pens.
turned the tables by using a plain telescopic rifle and apparently
by getting an eccentric communist sympathizer by the name of Lee
Harvey Oswald to shoot straight. Reminds me of 2001 when Clinton,
and Reagan before him, was thinking of Star Wars defense systems
against enemy attacks -- and the Al-Qaeda did it nicely with the
help of a couple of box cutters.
is not to suggest that Rajapakse should send a Buddhist zealot to
assassinate Sonia Gandhi. A touch bland, Mahinda Rajapakse has the
personality to get India to look after at least the Palalay airport
for the simple reason that he needs some form of reciprocation -
- an out of court and under the table settlement. He could use expected
oil reserves and America as weapons, which means that he has to
learn the ugly ways of political intrigue, which only smoke room
political Machiavellis can tell him.
he needs some of those in his administration; a modern day cross
between Esmond Wickremesinghe and Gamini Dissanayake would do. Dissanayake,
now forgotten, hatched the Indo Sri Lanka accord with the help of
N. Ram and a Insurance man who may look as abstracted as Einstein,
but was a realist to his last premium. Rajapakse needs a couple
of smiling assassins to do that kind of job for him.