Fifth Column

14th November 1999

The secret of my success

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The telephone rang at Araliya Trees. Bala, the secretary who answered was very excited. He conveyed the message to Satellite immediately.

"Madam, Madam, Prabhakaran is calling…"

"Why, Bala, what does he want? Does he want to negotiate?"

"No, of course not Madam. Why should he negotiate after regaining all that territory now?"

"Then, why is he calling?"

"Madam, he wants to join the government…"

"Ah, tell him to come to Araliya Trees tomorrow morning. We will discuss the matter in front of the TV cameras and he can tell them how much faith he has in my leadership. Then, maybe he can attend a ceremony at a Kovil…"

"But, Madam, surely you do not want him in the Cabinet…"

"Of course, Bala, I do; what a bonus it will be for my campaign. I can get all the votes in the North and East without asking for help from the army…"

"But, Madam, what will the people say?"

"Why, the people will say that I have ended the war and they will want me to be their leader for life…"

"But Madam, Prabha is wanted for so many crimes…"

"Surely, Bala, we can convince the people that he is after all, a good man…"

"How can we do that, Madam? Most people hate him for what he has done…."

"Bala, look at Wije. What happened with him? He was supposed to have taken some land illegally. Our own commission finds him guilty but now he is declared innocent and we accept him. After all what Prabha has done is also to occupy some land illegally, isn't it? So, maybe we can find some way of saying he is not guilty…"

"But Madam, Prabha is also accused of killing so many people…"

"Bala, look at Nanda. He was supposed to be responsible for those disappearances at Sooriyakanda. But no one has really found him guilty, have they? So, we assume that he is innocent and accept him. After all, even Prabha has not really been found guilty, has he? So, we should be able to accommodate him…"

"But Madam, Prabha is said to be a racist who wants a separate state for himself. If we take him he will want to be the leader himself…"

"Bala, look at Sarath and Susil. They are even now talking of saving the 'rata' and 'jaathiya' so some can call them racists. And Sarath wanted to be Prime Minister in a green government and Susil even announced he would be a presidential candidate so they all want the top job. There is no harm in that. They are less of a threat when they are with you. So, we should take Prabha…"

"But Madam, there is another problem; Prabha will want a cabinet post…"

"Of course, he will. There's nothing wrong with that. That's what they all join us for- a short cut to the cabinet. What does he want, then?"

"That's the problem, Madam; he wants the Defence Ministry…"

"What's the problem with that, Bala? Assure him of that and get the Kiribath and the TV crews arranged for tomorrow's meeting…"

"But Madam, what will Anurudhdha say if you give Prabha the Defence portfolio?"

"What can he say when Prabha appears to be handling the subject much better than him?"

"But, Madam, keeping in mind what happened in Pakistan, will that be safe?"

"I say, Bala, I told you to assure him that he will be given the Defence Ministry. I didn't say I would actually give it to him…"

"But Madam, then he might not join the government…"

"Of course, he will, Bala. That's how it works. He comes to meet me, says what a great leader I am and pledges his support. And then, after promising him the Defence Ministry, I make him a minister of special assignments…"

"But, Madam, he might protest?"

"No, Bala, they don't. Sarath and Nanda didn't protest when they didn't get their promised ministries, did they?"

"But, Madam, you shouldn't break your promises…"

"I always do, Bala, I always do; that is the secret of my success"

Bala didn't disagree with that.

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