It was the day when the meek momentarily inherited Parliament and the defanged wolf was forced to sit before the nearly fleeced lamb.  At sharp 2.30 pm on September the 1st when President Sirisena walked the red carpet rolled out for him to the steps of Lanka’s supreme legislature, the bevy of girls who sang [...]


Maithri sets nation on course


It was the day when the meek momentarily inherited Parliament and the defanged wolf was forced to sit before the nearly fleeced lamb.  At sharp 2.30 pm on September the 1st when President Sirisena walked the red carpet rolled out for him to the steps of Lanka’s supreme legislature, the bevy of girls who sang Lanka’s Song of Songs echoed the jaya mangalams of the nation for a new beginning to dawn with the advent of Maithri as the messiah of hope. It was the moment, transient though it may be, when the power of good triumphed over the forces of evil, an evil many thought could never be flayed. But finally Maithri, god bless him, had delivered the goods.

President Sirisena in Parliament on Tuesday: Both the UNP and the UPFA need him

Two months ago on July 3rd when Maithripala endorsed the nominations of former President Mahinda Rajapaksa and his impudent gang of UPFA rebels to contest the elections under the UPFA banner, it seemed the final capitulation of Maithri before the Mahinda mystique. As the nation stood aghast and wondered helpless whether the forces that wrought a new beginning for Lanka on January 8 had only been able to realise a false dawn, Maithripala’s abject surrender seemed the end of the road.

It even had the Venerable Sobitha Thera, the main architect of the Rainbow Revolution, shaking his head in despair and urging all those who had the means to flee abroad to do so; and advising those who did not, to apply for visas to enter the torturous realms of hell. It was clear to him as it was increasingly becoming clear to many: this was the end. And to live in a place, where hope never comes that comes to all, was considered far better than to dwell in a land forsaken by the Gods.

But that was without reckoning the stuff Maithri was made of. His sincerity was pooh- poohed, his tenacity was underestimated and his ability to carry fire under water with none being wise to it was never even suspected because its success depended on it being kept a secret. To Mahinda Rajapaksa and his faithful gang, Maithripala Sirisena was a pushover. The same mistake they had made in their assessment of the strength of his character before the presidential poll, they repeated before the general elections and held him in scorn and derision. That was a fatal misjudgment. For beneath Maithri’s velvet glove of mildness, lay an unflinching fist of steel.

Gloating over their victory in forcing the hand of their party leader, the then friendless, helpless, hapless Sirisena to grant them nominations, they suffered the belief that it was they who called the shots and that Maithripala was mere pulp in their hands to be fashioned as they wished and flattened as they conspired to do under their jackboots boots after August 17.

Summarily dismissing Maithri’s assertion that he will not be named as the prime minister or even as the chief of the election committee responsible for the campaign, Mahinda even felt emboldened to storm the SLFP’s Darley Road headquarters the following day and occupy the chair at the head of the table. Whilst Maithri’s framed photograph smiled from the wall directly above him and was studiously ignored, Mahinda claimed the post to the applause of his lackeys and relished in making it abundantly clear to all that party power had shifted from Sirisena’s hands to his own. Maithripala did not react to this usurpation, to this gross violation of party rules and regulations, to this blatant attack on the party’s high command structure; and seemingly turned a blind eye as Mahinda staged his guerilla tactics. Maithripala may have been giving rope for the ever eager Mahinda to tie himself with and the unsuspecting Mahinda allowed himself to be shackled lock, stock and barrel. He did not realise that he had one less excuse to blame for his mission’s defeat. How could he blame the party’s campaign when he had usurped authority and taken its leadership by force?

Whilst the nation demanded answer from Maithripala why he had granted UPFA nominations to Mahinda and his coterie, the President was in no hurry to give any. Even while the people’s cry grew louder and their disillusionment grew more pronounced, Maithripala did not rush to give his reasons but stayed mum. Ten days later, on July 14, when answer came, it cut the sod from under the Rajapaksa feet. In no uncertain terms he declared that Mahinda Rajapaksa would not be made Prime Minister even if the UPFA managed to win.

The way his speech had the then UPFA secretary Premajayantha scurrying to the Elections Commissioner’s office to get any recasts of the president’s address to the nation banned on the state media reveal the adverse impact Rajapaksa loyalists feared it had.

Though the Elections Commissioner exercised his questionable power to make such an order and obliged, Maithripala, however, was unmoved. He has said his piece and having said it eloquently, once was quite enough. The ban served only to enhance its importance and increase the interest.

Then came the final week when Maithri rung the death knell. In a letter to Mahinda Rajapaksa he reiterated his decision not to grant Mahinda the post of prime minister even if the UPFA won a majority of seats in Parliament. Point by point he explained why Mahinda Rajapaksa had disqualified himself from holding the post. He listed how the SLFP had been systematically destroyed within ten years of Rajapaksa rule due to the former president’s mania for self aggrandizements.

On August 13, a month after his speech to the nation, President Sirisena stated in his letter to Rajapaksa: “You have robbed the dignity of the party and the freedom of the people by bringing the 18th Amendment for you to remain in power forever. You took away the political future of those who toiled and sweated for the party for you to remain in power forever. It is hilarious how you approach each and every temple in the country and how you obtain publicity for such events since your defeat on January 8. I am very well aware of how you behaved and how you thought during the period beginning from January 26, 2010 to November 21 of 2014. I have serious reservations whether your constant presence at temples has created serene thoughts in your mind.”

Then in a cutting jibe the President turned the knife, “But it hadn’t. It has been reported that the discussions you have held with the party members at personal level have shown your hatred, egoism and malice.”

If the July 13 letter had been the first tsunami wave to lash the Rajapaksa shore, this was the second and it was far worse. Mahinda Rajapaksa was initially at a loss for words and could only blabber at a political rally that “I have received a ‘louwe’ letter from Maithri. It contains certain proposals — not marriage proposals — on what will be done if certain events take place.”
Worse waves were to follow. With the elections barely three days away and with all election related work banned in the last 48 hours before the polls opened, Maithripala moved to sack Rajapaksa loyalists UPFA secretary Susil Premajayantha and SLFP secretary Anura Priyadarshana Yapa from their posts as the all powerful secretaries and instead appointed his own loyalists namely Duminda Dissanayake as the new acting SLFP secretary and Dr. Vishwa Warnapala as the new acting UPFA secretaries. His timing was perfect. And it was Machiavellian in its planning and execution. The two former secretaries were also suspended of their party memberships.

But it was not merely the sacking that surprised many but also the astuteness Maithripala displayed in robing his acts with legal cover. That same morning the two new acting secretaries Dissanayake and Warnapala had applied to the Colombo District Court and had been granted an interim injunction restraining Premajayantha and Yapa; and from functioning as General Secretaries of the UPFA and the SLFP respectively from disrupting the activities of the two new secretaries until August 24 when the case would be heard. This in effect meant that Premajayantha and Yapa were rendered helpless and if they attempted to assert their right to continue as secretaries and disrupt the activities of the two new office holders, they risked being in contempt of court.

The move effectively meant that it would be the new UPFA secretary who will be handing over the national list with the names of Maithripala loyalists on it. Premajayantha’s weak attempt to state that he was still the secretary and he would be handing over the national list did not hold water; since the person who is authorised to hand over the national list to the Elections Commissioner and from whom the national list is to be duly received by the Elections Commissioner is the person so appointed to the office of secretary by the party in accordance with its internal constitution; and who, on the relevant date of handing over the national list, occupies the said office of secretary to the party.

However, the issue remains purely academic now since with the defeat of the UPFA, the wind was taken from UPFA’s sails and the puff from Premajayantha pompousness. Instead a deflated Premajayantha tendered his resignation as the secretary of the UPFA rendering a court hearing redundant and, as an added measure to prevent any future legal wrangles arising, meekly agreed to sign Maithripala’s national list along with the new secretary Warnapala. The matter was thus settled; and on Friday, Premajayantha was appointed as the Minister of Technology. His colleague Priyadarshana Yapa who is reputed to have talked of renouncing worldly life and taking robes after the loss of high hopes was appointed by Maithripala as the Minister of Disaster Management. He probably doesn’t have far to search for a disaster to manage.

And what of the new MP from the Kurunegala District who took his oaths in parliament on Tuesday. Mahinda Rajapaksa is reported to have told the President of his intention to retire permanently from politics. His sisters have advised him, he has said. He should have taken their advice eight months ago. He will not be missed.

And what of the gang of three, Wimal, Dinesh and Vasu, now made four with addition of the wagging tail, Gammanpila to the mangy corpus. All made good riding piggyback on Mahinda to parliament. Finally they have succeeded in their purpose though their ride to the post has condemned their septuagenarian mustang to the knackers’ yard.

The UNP with 106 seats and the UPFA with 95 seats, 82 of which belong to SLFP members, have now joined hands to form a national government. It is inconceivable that a part of the UPFA membership could be recognised as the opposition in Parliament and allowed to choose one of their members as the leader of the opposition. That would be akin to a rugger match where the UNP formed one team and 7 out of the 15 UPFA players were chosen to join hands with the UNP with the balance 8 UPFA players asked to act as the rival team and execute simulated tackles to conjure reality but somehow or other to let the UNP cum UPFA ball to reach the touchline and allow a try.

It would have reduced Parliamentary proceedings to a sham. Thus is it is correct that the leader of the party with the third number of seats in Parliament, the TNA, has been chosen as the leader of the opposition. For the last eight months the nation had endured a grotesque farce staged solely to bring a loser back to power and to save the hides of all those charged with corruption and abuses of power. Now thankfully the ordeal is over. The pandemonium has ended. Sanity has returned to shine on the land.

And as President Maithripala Sirisena stood to attention listening to the Jaya Mangala Gatha recited by the bevy of girls on September 1 on the threshold of Parliament awaiting to inaugurate the first session of the 8th Parliament of Lanka, he would no doubt have mused how his resilience has seen through the storms, how his sagacity has wisely steered the nation to this happy pass, how the slate had been cleaned and the scene set for the task of nation building. He had played dice with the fates and, for the nation’s good fortune, he had won.

Now with a new cabinet sworn in on Friday, the work must begin forthwith. On with the task! And as the nation joins wishing President Maithripala Sirisena and Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe all success in their endeavors to make Lanka a better land to live where every one finds a place in the sun, those of you who filled the application forms to migrate to the infernal regions of Hades as Ven. Sobitha advised in disgust, can safely tear it up. Hell can wait.

Indika Thotawatte: Blind astrologer but spot on predictions

Blind astro saw MR’s fate writ in the stars
A blind astrologer saw in the stars the double defeat of Mahinda Rajapaksa which those with 20/20 vision failed or feared to see.
While a galaxy of astrologers were predicting a victory for Mahinda Rajapaksa in January’s presidential elections, one blind astrologer, Indika Thotawatte, was clued-up enough what the stars held in store for Lanka to predict the then seemingly invincible president’s downfall and brave enough to appear on national television and announce it as a certainty.

In January when asked whether Rajapaksa would ever occupy Temple Trees again, Thotawatte declared with an almost arrogant sureness of his starry insight that let alone Mahinda Rajapaksa not even one of his many dogs will ever again grace the official residence of the Prime Minister.

Even when the ‘Bring Back Mahinda’ campaign was in full swing and some believed and swore that Mahinda would return to power again, albeit as prime minister, the young soothsayer stuck to his saturns and steadfastly repeated his February forecast, saying ‘never, never, never’. Never will he become prime minister.
Not bad, is it, for one blind astrologer armed with only a horoscope to draw valid conclusions from the transmigration of planets and come up roses every time? Especially when surveys done by pollsters according to so-called scientific methods bungle each time? No descriptions such as gobbledygook or balderdash are then bandied about when the scientific soothsayers come a cropper.

Astrology has been damned whenever quacks, even royal ones, get their predictions in a twist. Then it is denounced as bunkum, mere mumbo jumbo or hocus-pocus Now when one man, against all odds, makes accurate predictions not once but twice, maybe it is time to reconsider the general prejudice and, keeping an open mind, give the ancient astrology of the rishis a hearty applause. It should not be judged by the chicanery that is presently practiced.

If one is possessed of the required talent and if one reads with astrological knowledge and predictions are made solely on astrological principles and not on the basis of obtaining favours from politicians, seeking enrichment through false praise and hollow promises of success as charlatans often do to hoodwink gullible politicians, maybe there is something writ in the stars after all. The future, perhaps?

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