My dear Mahinda maama, I thought I must write to you because this is a time when most people will start ignoring you and some will even forget who you were and what you did. I am also not certain where to send this letter to — to Medamulana or to Colombo — because you [...]

5th Column

Retire and reflect on what went wrong


My dear Mahinda maama,
I thought I must write to you because this is a time when most people will start ignoring you and some will even forget who you were and what you did. I am also not certain where to send this letter to — to Medamulana or to Colombo — because you seem to be dividing your time between the two cities.
I am told, Mahinda maama, that you were surprised at the results of the election. Who would have thought that the soft spoken, mild-mannered Maithri, of all people, could challenge you and then actually go on to win? And that too by a considerable margin of nearly a half a million votes

Mahinda maama, it must be difficult for you to come to terms with that because, apart from that loss in 1977 you had always won elections. You were in power for most of the last twenty years, enjoying absolute power for the last nine years. Worse still, you had called the election two years early!
Just as much as you must be confused as to what really happened for you to lose, I am a bit confused too. That is because, at first, we were told that you had graciously conceded defeat and left Temple Trees in the early hours of that Friday morning-and we all thought that you were a real gentleman.
But now, stories are emerging that, while you did leave early in the morning it was after trying your best to convince officials to suppress the election result during the night. I know this is only an allegation at this stage, but I must admit it has taken away much of the respect many had for you.

What everyone agrees on is that they saw the Chief Justice at Temple Trees at that time. Maybe he dropped by to see the election results because his television at home was broken or there was an important case that was being heard that night! I am trying hard to believe either of these stories.
It was also disappointing to see you holding on to a window at Medamulana and saying that you lost because of the ‘North and East’ votes. For someone who was boss for so long, Mahinda maama, you shouldn’t be speaking holding on to windows. And, I always thought that every vote had equal value.

If you really want to know why you lost the election, Mahinda maama, you only have to look around you. Of late, especially after your last election win, you were surrounded by people who behaved as if they believed they were above the law, no matter what they did-and they said so too
Unfortunately for you, those who defended you most vociferously — Wimal, Johnston, Mahindananda, SB, Pavithra, Udaya and Tissa, to name a few — were also those who had lost all credibility with the public. And no one really cared to answer all those corruption charges against your government too!

The Greens, the rathu sahodarayas and Champika’s chaps are now having a field day exposing the misdeeds of those who surrounded you. And isn’t it a strange coincidence that most of your former ministers, including Basil, have thought that this is the best time to go away for an overseas holiday?
Mahinda maama, I also heard that, at first, you wanted to continue as the leader of the Blues. Correct me if I am wrong but didn’t you introduce regulations for the Blues a few years ago, saying that if someone was the leader of the country, he would automatically become the leader of the Blues?

You did that to oust Satellite when you won your election but now that has come back to haunt you! Mahinda maama, it is good that you have now realised that after you lost the election everyone will desert you and flock to Maithri — just like they deserted Satellite and flocked to you ten years ago!
If you wish to return to Parliament, Mahinda maama, that is your right but if I were you, I would enjoy my retirement. None of our former Presidents have

returned to politics after retiring-although Satellite may still do so. Also, do you realise that you are the first President to lose an election?
Therefore, Mahinda maama, I think it is best that you allow Maithri to carry out his programme of work. So far, he has lived up to his promise of being a humble and decent leader but of course only time will tell whether those around him will lead to his downfall-just like what happened to you.
Why, you said in that television advertisement of yours that when you leave office, you will live at Medamulana and if someone comes to visit you and says that you did your duty by the nation, you will be very satisfied. And if you do just that, Mahinda maama, I am sure many people will admire you.
The people have spoken and you have said you will respect that. So, Mahinda maama, we wish you all the best in the future. You deserve at least that, although the same cannot be said about some of those who surrounded you in your final years and ruined your chances of re-election.

Yours truly,
Punchi Putha
PS: I hope you don’t get me wrong, Mahinda maama. This country owes you a big debt of gratitude as the person who gave unwavering leadership to the war against terrorism. So, you can rest assured that your place in history is guaranteed-unless, of course, you decide to stay on and spoil your legacy.

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