This week in India, fond father Mahinda Rajapaksa declared for the first time the presidential ambitions he harbours in his heart of hearts for his eldest son Namal to be his natural successor and heir apparent, groomed to be the president of Lanka come 2025. Speaking to the Indian media, he said on foreign soil [...]


Keeping the crown, the sceptre and the throne in the Mahinda family

Rajapaksa reveals for the first time his presidential ambitions for son

This week in India, fond father Mahinda Rajapaksa declared for the first time the presidential ambitions he harbours in his heart of hearts for his eldest son Namal to be his natural successor and heir apparent, groomed to be the president of Lanka come 2025.

Speaking to the Indian media, he said on foreign soil what he has kept secret all along in Lanka: that his choice of candidate to run for the presidency is his own son and heir. Alas, the 19th Amendment had raised the age limit for a presidential contender from 30 to 35 thus barring Namal from contesting the 2020 elections, forcing him to click his heels till the 2025 elections come along to throw his year beaten hat to the ring and realise papa’s fond dreams.

In answer to a question raised by Tamil Nadu’s Hindu newspaper: “Will it be a member of your family, or would you consider someone outside it?”

Rajapaksa’s answer: My son Namal Rajapaksa cannot be a presidential candidate since they have now raised the minimum age to 35 years, instead of 30, so he can’t be considered in 2019.”

So who’s going to warm the seat till 2025 till Rajapaksa son and heir finds his bottom cushioned on it, with his father’s blessings?

Rajapaksa’s answer was: “My brother is certainly a contender, but the party and the coalition will have to decide who the people want.”

THE FATHER, THE SON AND THE HOLY MODI: Swami Subramanian sponsored freebie passage to India to showcase Namal as heir apparent to head the Rajapaksa dynasty

All know that it’s in Mahinda’s sole hands to name who that contender from the SLPP will be. So why the hesitancy to name his brother Gotabaya and instead pass the buck to the party and coalition which will slavishly follow his command and hold it as the supreme word of the Almighty.

Or is it that, like the Turk who does not keep his brother near the throne, he doesn’t trust his brother to keep the throne warm as merely a Mahinda puppet, a mere regent until the ordained son, the blue-eyed boy, the apple in papa’s fond eyes, comes of age and attains constitutional puberty to bear the Rajapaksa torch as president?

Was that the reason that made him say, when asked by the Hindu, “Who will lead the SLPP into elections in 2019, given that you have completed two terms and according to the 19th Amendment that is the limit?” – “I will lead the SLPP. There is a view that despite the Amendment I can fight elections and then fight it out in court.”

Well we all know, don’t we, what that will mean. The verdict of a kept bench under the thumb of a triumphant Rajapaksa needs no reference to supreme judgment.

And needs no second guessing. To the man on the streets it’s a foregone conclusion. The question is: Why not fight the good battle in court first and thus clear the air of all doubts and establish his eligibility to contest instead of waiting for a submissive court trampled beneath his jackboots to rubber stamp his right to rule by his own decree and judgment?

Now to return to the subject of his son, one can understand a father’s concern and the need for him, and only him, to fill the vacancy for the next five years.

After all, who better than Mahinda to keep the presidential seat safe, secure and warm for his eldest prodigal son to plop on it come the year 2025? This was the position that G. L. Peiris quoting nameless, phantom legal sources, proposed and put forward two weeks ago behind the bushes, seconded by his brother-in-law Dr. Nihal Jayawickrama who rushed to answer the family call of a political nature. (See SUNDAY PUNCH comment of August 26, 2018).

That Mahinda should give echo to that absurd view reveals he still entertains the hope he’ll be president again for he can trust none, not even his own flesh and blood, to be just a caretaker president willing, like a teddy bear to meekly hand over the reins to his son Namal to reign after tasting the ambrosia of power.

Mahinda knows, and knows best, more than anyone else, how the tentacles of power binds one, how once tasted it leaves one with the craving for more. He knows it, for that’s what urged him to foist the 18th Amendment to the Constitution and repeal the article that prevented a twice-elected president from contesting again, replacing it with one that enabled him to contest forever in perpetuity.

He can see it happening, even now, just by looking at Maithripala who swore at his coronation three years ago, with all the humbleness of the peasant turned president at his command, that he will serve only one term and no more, saying ‘that’s finito and I will wanna go home’ who now shows all the signs of setting the stage to serve, sorry that’s the wrong word, to imbibe the nectar of another five years of the nation’s presidency when his own 19th Amendments will ban him from asking for a refill.

Power is the most intoxicating spirit, the most addictive drug and absolute power the one that most corrupt the human mind and turns it into a pathological terminal illness of the brain. Most of them who have tasted it twice may indeed need special counseling sessions on a psychiatrist’s couch to rid them of their mental disorder followed by attending ‘powerholics anonymous’ group meetings with similar sufferers to wean them off their debilitating mental sickness for good.

In the northern world, except for a few exceptions like Hitler, Stalin or Mussolini who not only wished to be in power for life but also intended to live forever, this malady is general contained due to the powerful religious influence of democratic traditions, customs and norms. In the South, however, alas, no such hope. With some of its leaders even planning to create family dynasties, long gone out of style, to outlast the 1,000-year Third Reich that the German Fuehrer promised his naïve people to create on the Fatherland based on the foundation of his Nazi warped dreams.

It’s only natural, of course, that every fond father wishes the best for his son, handicapped as the son may be to rise alone without a father’s helping hand. And what an exemplary father Mahinda has been in that regard.

From helping his son with his studies and enabling him to pass his law exams with ease to guiding him to seek the pre-determined political career of his choice the father decided in his ambition to form a royal dynasty, from putting the good word through the old political network to walking the extra mile to see his son catapulted from office boy to chief executive. Nothing wrong with that, of course. That’s what sugar daddys are for.

But where does that leave Mahinda’s brothers, the ambitious Gota and covetous Basil? In the lurch? Sentenced to the wilderness? To leave the field open for Namal to score his try at his presidential rugby post without any tackle from even the home side? Will they, the uncles, the elders, be reduced to mere vassals, subservient to their nephew, the Mahinda son anointed to the presidential post by his father who solely holds the sacred oil?

Interestingly enough, the eldest son of D.M. Rajapaksa, Chamal Rajapaksa, the former Speaker of the House, told the media this week in Embilipitiya, “Hold on, if anyone is talking of contesting the presidential election, don’t rule me out of the running, count me in. What the people want is a Rajapaksa brother and no one else.”

To the question that the Hindu posed for Rajapaksa, “would you consider someone outside it?” he didn’t even bother to answer it. For the presidential post, in his blinkered eyes, lay solely within the Rajapaksa province. First himself, and if that failed, well, grudgingly Gota and perhaps long shot Basil. Merely as caretakers, night watchmen for the Crown Prince to rise to a new dawn and assume the throne and be named as Rajapaksa the II.

No outsiders would be welcome. Trespassers would be shot on sight if they dared to intrude upon the exclusive preserve of the Rajapaksa turf. Their job was to be the hounds to guard the parametres not take over the castle turrets. Beagles, terriers, retrievers who Mahinda can whistle away when he doesn’t want them near for he knows he can always whistle them back when he needs them. But one faithful pooch yapped otherwise.

Kumar Welgama, an ardent Mahinda loyalist, who, surprisingly this week, had the guts to speak against his master’s voice. He said: “Family bandyism has no place in our party, Mahinda Rajapaksa, whilst he was in power, treated his brothers differently and the outside ministers differently, as inferiors. That made the ministers turn against him and though, they professed to love him, secretly worked against him in the 2015 elections . And that’s the reason that led to his downfall. That’s the reason that Sirisena left. Are we now to create another Sirisena by preventing members not of the Rajapaksa fold from trying to aspire to reach the utmost pole?

There are many veterans in our party who have a wealth of experience. It’s not right that they should be ignored and the crown should be passed on to a novice, to someone who has a long way to go.”

With Mahinda facing such opposition not only from his elder brother but from senior supporters of his new found party, the SLPP, can his dear wish to place his son on the Pohottuwa altar and make the devout kneel in worship before the upstart’s icon become reality?

The wily Yahapalana government has with the 19th Amendment blocked all access routes to all the three Rajapaksa brother, Mahinda, Gotabaya and Basil. Mahinda’s case: the disqualification bar of having been twice elected as president, which Mahinda removed with the 18th Amendment, has been restored with the enactment of Maithri’s 19th.

The introduction of the proviso that anyone who holds dual citizenship can contest the elections has effectively sentenced Gota and Basil to the knackers yard to graze — unless they of course pay the sacrifice and renounce it but, since renunciation is not a unilateral matter but a two way street, it is highly doubtful whether the United States Government will tango with either and grant them their still unforwarded request to relieve themselves of their citizenship privilege before the 2020 elections. Son Namal too has been effectively blocked by the 19th Amendment which raised the minimum age limit to run for the presidency from 30 to 35 years of age.

But dreams die hard. Nightmares last longer. And whilst the angels may sing one to a talcum powdered scented sleep, the ghouls may see to it that one’s kept awake all night through bathed in cold sweat.

For Mahinda, though he may live the dream, the nightmare he suffers in sleep is the question of his own brothers who, having emerged from his shadow to strike out a path for themselves, now cast a dreadful shadow on his own ambitions for his son to be the successor to the Rajapaksa legacy. And that must worry him when warned of the Turkish danger of keeping brothers too near the throne. When one would have sufficed to give rise to alarm, imagine his awesome fright to have three next to the crown, the sceptre and throne.

But whatever fantasies that creep between the nightmares to soothe the Rajapaksa sleep, all these ambitious hopes are, of course, in the hands of the people. Though many are condemned as voter buffalos, they still remain supreme, the unacknowledged kingmakers of this island.

Who hold in the line etched palms of their hands to not only foretell but also to dictate the future fate of this nation, possessing as they do the sovereign power to make or break, to install or dispose governments but, alas, to the nation’s sad misfortune, they have been rendered bereft of the grey matter upstairs to discern who the better devil is out of the bally two.

MS cashiers Srilankan over nuts: JO cries over spoilt milk after phut

SriLankan Airlines makes cadju forbidden fruit for Bird of Paradise

Perhaps it was not the best of all possible ways in this best of all possible worlds to lodge one’s disquiet at the complaints’ desk and express dissatisfaction over the inferior quality of food served on the national airline the SriLankan merely because a couple of cadju nuts had made a ruckus in the presidential belly and caused it to rumble in an unbecoming manner hitherto unbeknown to the human anatomy or to medical science.

Especially when the nexus between the offending cadju and the consequent motions of hectic activity the plumb fruit is supposed to have caused is by no means based on solid evidence but on the loose supposition which a judicial court of law may well indeed flush down with ease and with contempt.

For who’s to say — it may well be asked — that the cause, the original sin was the cadju, now the forbidden fruit on the Bird of Paradise whose droppings after the presidential outburst, may have served to dip its prospects even further when it comes to enticing the jet setters with the slogan, ‘Fly Me and have a Taste of Paradise’, coming as it does with a presidential warning that food served on board may be hazardous to your stomach and may cause a rumpus in the bowels and that its unfit even for dogs, let alone humans to muck around with and gorge on it, merely because it came gratis.

But what’s the evidence such a presidential claim is based on? Can anyone identify with certainty, the real source of the president’s discomfort?

Was it some exotic diet the president tucked in to in Nepal the night before? Was it the cadju onboard – the prime culprit on the list of usual suspects when it came to this sort of disorder to be the first accused and held guilty by a glutton’s food court?

Or was it simply the fearsome prospect, landing as the president did at the Katunayake Port of Call on September 4th, the day before the September 5th hyped up Joint Opposition’s threat to converge upon the capital and lay siege on the city and topple the government with an imaginary force of 200,000 that made the butterflies dance in the presidential fuselage and cause the rumble in the intestinal jungle? And thus cause the fast depleting coffers of the nearly bankrupt airline to take a further nose dive and crash-land topsy turvy with its wheels in the air?

This week on Monday, addressing a group of farmers in Hambantota who did not grow cashew at all and who had no inkling as to what sort of nuts was served on board exclusively to SriLankan’s Business Class passengers, Sirisena spilled the beans on how he had got the groans after digging into some free cashew served liberally courtesy of the national airline.

Without munching his words he declared to a small group of farmers that: “Returning from Kathmandu, I was served some cashews on board a SriLankan flight, but it was so bad even a dog wouldn’t eat it.”

Not the sort of endorsement that you will expect the international flyer to take a shine to when it comes to deciding which airline to fly to visit his next travel destination, now, is it? Not the sort of enticing plug that will make the national airline soar from its present doldrums to new soaraway heights, now, is it? And the question on the public lip is why the President had to go public with it, when a simple summons to the present chairman to explain to him what had transpired on the flight and a request to do the needful would have sufficed? Why look up and spit when one knows the laws of gravity compel it to fall on the spittoon of one’s own face? Or in this case on the nation’s face.

But whilst the President was suffering from a spoilt cadju, his discomfort drowned only by the sounds of the turbo engines on the plane, thirty thousand feet below, on ground zero the Joint Opposition was making the extraordinary charge that some ministers of the government had spiked the Milco milk distributed free with poison to an unsuspecting crowd at the Lankan Mardi Gras held on September 5th to overthrow the people elected government and, in the words of Pavithra Wanniarachchi, to take the Government home with her to bed.

It was the day of the so-called Lankan Springs which JO leaders hoped an arrack driven and biriyani fed force would topple the government in power and bring Rajapaksa back to pluck the temple flower and offer it at the altar of his newly erected unconstitutional shrine.

Perhaps, like Sirisena bemoaning his close encounter with the Srilankan cadju kind, the joint opposition too, needed a scapegoat on which to heap the burden of their September 5th failure, to conceal the shame of their nakedness which was exposed in no uncertain terms, and shift the focus elsewhere whilst they gained time to gather the fig leaves to hide the flaccidness of their once high held rising hopes of capturing power through undemocratic, unsavory illegal means.

To turn the flashlight away from one of the greatest flops ever staged, they sought the ever ready media lights to make the claim that some ministers of the UNP had spiked milk packets with poison to make the participants fall sick. Apart from a few people who gave pose to TV glare and claimed they were relatives of those who had fallen sick as a result of drinking cow’s milk, the victims, if there were any, never came forward to say, ‘oh yes, we drank it and fell ill as a result of it.’

With one exception. Dulles Allahaperuma. But before the man himself made his appearance to announce his resurrection from a near death experience swallowing the milk of human unkindness, Mahinda Rajapaksa appeared on the TV screens to give a voice cut to announce the sad news that Dulles had been struck down for the last three days having swallowed the poison. This week, the nation may have heaved a sigh a great relief to see Dulles back on his feet after sipping cow’s milk, unlike the hordes who had to be hospitalised gulping gal, pol and moonshine on the streets freely distributed by the party organisers as a more powerful incentive than milk to join the party to overthrow a democratically elected government.

In the final analysis, all that can be said is that the nation’s patience was milked to the brim in the name of a lost cause.

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