Northerners get new friends | Daily News

Northerners get new friends

Former President Mahinda Rajapaksa, having alienated the minorities, which cost him his Presidency, on January 8, it appears, is trying to atone for the gung ho nationalist persona he is wont to project, to cater to the southern electorate. Addressing a local government election meeting in Jaffna, Rajapaksa bemoaned the racist label being attached to him by his political opponents, asserting that, far from being a racist, he took into his bosom all communities inhabiting this country. Rajapaksa went even further, asking the crowd how could he be a racist when the husband of his niece was married to a Tamil hailing from Jaffna, and went onto name his erstwhile kinsman from the north, a well known businessman, who thrived during the ten year presidency of Rajapaksa.

Mahinda Rajapaksa wants the public, at least the Tamil community, to believe that having a relative, who is a Tamil, purges himself of the stigma of being branded a racist, and, that, the majoritarian mindset attributed to him was a figment of the imagination of his political opponents. However the jingoism he is given to these days on the campaign trail in the south gives the lie to this open expression of almost filial love towards the Tamil community in the north. One perennial slogan heard these days with increased stridency from Rajapaksa and his Joint Opposition stalwarts is the imminent threat of a division of the country, through the devise of a new constitution the government is working on these days to offer the people of the north at least a semblance of power devolution. How Rajapaksa can stand before the Tamil voters and say he is not a racist and at the same time rails against attempts by the government to grant something in the nature of devolution, allowing the Tamils a governing structure to enable them to deal with their own affairs, under a unitary state, only the former president will be able to explain.

There are other reasons that calls into question Rajapaksa's claim to being a non-racist and a lover of Tamils. The day Rajapaksa lost the presidential election, and retired to his ancestral home in Tangalle, asked by the crowds on why he lost the election, pat came the reply that he was done in by the Tigers (in the north). This, after virtually pitching up tent in the north for a whole week, and, rubbing shoulders with the Tamil community, who, according to him, later, were Tigers, and, responsible for his defeat.

Rajapaksa's credentials as a leader who served all communities equally, instead of being a racist, he claims he is being labelled by his political opponents, also took a heavy beating, when, with one stroke of the pen, he banned the singing of the National Anthem in Tamil in schools and government offices in the north at functions, out of sheer pique after his Oxford Union lecture was cancelled at the eleventh hour, due to street demonstrations by Tamils in London.

To most independent minded persons the days that immediately followed the war victory brought out the worst in Rajapaksa, giving the lie to his claim of being a non-racist. Victory parades were held ad nausm, as if what was won was a war between two states, one inhabited by the Sinhalese, and, the other, Tamils, making the latter feel a conquered race. Marshal tunes, scripted by Rajapaksa lackeys, were given air, all too frequently, all centred on the maha rajano, comparing him to a latter day Dutugemunu. A special session of parliament was summoned, where, Rajapaksa hectored from the Speaker's podium that, devolution, if at all, will be granted on his own terms, and, not on concepts introduced from abroad, clearly telling India where to get off.

The former President, who warmed towards the Tamils in the north and denied he was a racist, only because one of his kinsmen happened to be a Tamil from Jaffna, only the other day, addressing an election propaganda rally in the south, found fault with the police for arresting youth in the south but turning a blind eye to happenings in the north. This, after police took into custody members of an unruly mob who attacked the Kataragama Police station, following the death of a youth, in a police firing, at a road block in the area.

Why this differentiation between youth of the north and south, on the part of Rajapaksa, whose proud boast today is that he united a divided country rata eksesath kala? Doesn't this put to the test his claims in the north that he is not a racist?

It was only last month that Basil Rajapaksa famously said during the opening of a pohottuwa branch office in the north that there may be those among the services who committed war crimes. He was also in full agreement that land in the north, occupied by the forces, should be handed back to the civilians. Now Mahinda Rajapaksa, on another visit there, disabuses himself of being a racist.

The northerners, certainly, have got themselves new friends.


There is 1 Comment

It is our moral responsibility to respect the politicians cutting in the parliament once elected to any position must be decent honest prepare to serve the country well and must keep at least dome of the promises made during election campaign. Honesty trust go all the way to the top in citizens thought foes not matters northerners southern east west or central. All humans thinks alike


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