Taking the Putin route | Daily News

Taking the Putin route

There has long been speculation that Gotabhaya Rajapaksa will throw his hat into ring at the next Presidential race. Most felt that the Viyathmaga and Eliya movements formed under his leadership were just stepping stones for his larger ambition to be President. But it does not seem so. At least, if one were to take the comments made by Basil Rajapaksa, seriously.

Speaking to a newspaper, the younger Rajapaksa sibling says that they would install Mahinda Rajapaksa in the presidency once again the same way Vladimir Putin was made the leader of Russia. Putin's presidency was interrupted after he served two terms as Russian leader and the hiatus was filled by the Prime Minister, at the time Dimitri Medvedev. Putin was back in business again after a single term of the PM ended, by winning the election that followed. Putin was debarred from running for three consecutive terms as President in terms of the Russian political system but was not precluded from taking over the reins after the break in the sequence.

Mahinda Rajapaksa, on the other hand, is constitutionally debarred from running for President, and, unlike Putin, cannot aspire to that office even after a break. The Constitution has seen to that. If he is ever to again become President of this country, the constitution has to be amended by a two thirds majority, which is an unrealistic prospect, given the political reality.

To begin with, Rajapaksa is today the leader of a third force which has as much chance in garnering a two thirds majority as a snowball in hell. No third force has gone any distance in its political journey, but floundered midway. Lalith and Gamini broke away from the UNP and while Laith perished in harness, Gamini returned to the fold to contest the Presidency. Vijaya quit the SLFP to form the Sri Lanka Mahajana Pakshaya which today is almost extinct. Ditto for Rukman Senanayake whose ELJP, in the end, amalgamated with the UNP.

True, Rajapaksa can become Prime Minister, but only if he rejoins the SLFP. But here again, it is very doubtful, indeed, if he will be made PM in the event of a SLFP victory, after already been rejected for the post, by President Sirisena, who is the SLFP leader.

Besides, Mahinda Rajapaksa was defeated on January 8, and, also, the UPFA, which he led at the General Election that followed, was trounced. In essence he has been tried and tested and has been found wanting. One cannot comprehend how the tide will turn three years hence (when the Presidential Election is due), if Rajapaksa, who will be a ripe old 75 years, were to stand for election, what with corruption allegations sticking out liker sore thumb. To become President, it necessarily follows that one has to stand for election. There is no way one can be parachuted to that high office. How Rajapaksa can be a candidate when the constitution has shackled him from such a prospect only Basil Rajapaksa will be able to explain. Or, perhaps, he has been advised in this regard by Prof. G.L. Peiris who is fond of quoting the Doctrine of Necessity, as he did when justifying the passage of the aborted draft constitution in 2000 without a parliament vote. Rajapaksa, too, allowed himself to be a willing tool in that piece skullduggery, while today shouting hoarse against the enactment of a new constitution.

Be that as it may, why this obsession with a candidate who was soundly defeated at two elections? Is Mahinda Rajapaksa the be all and end all for the pohottuwites? Or is Basil Rajapaksa yearning to keep the Presidency in the family? Or is this a ruse to buttress the fortunes of the pohottuwa in the wake of the LG elections?

Basil Rajapaksa also says that MR should be once again elected President for ending the war, ignoring the fact that the last Presidential election too was held post war. The war victory as a slogan has become threadbare now. Were it not so, Rajapaksa would have romped home last time around. In fact, the war victory slogan, hammered hard, at the last presidential election, only served to alienate the minorities, that cost MR dearly.

Be that as it may, political dynasties have a long life in this part of the world. Rahul Gandhi has assumed the leadership of the Congress party, taking the baton from mother Sonia, continuing in the long line of the Gandhi family in political leadership. Bilawal Bhutto, son of Benazir, too have come into the political limelight, and, could one day become Prime Minister, like his mother, father, and, grandfather. Mahinda Rajapaksa may not be President again. But hopes of continuing with the Rajapaksa dynasty has certainly not died, at least with Basil Rajapaksa. Of course, there are quite a few in the Rajapaksa clan waiting to take over the mantle, and, Basil Rajapaksa may have only dropped a hint, knowing full well that a Mahinda Rajapaksa comeback is a dashed long shot. 


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