Former President Mahinda Rajapaksa, these days, is so engrossed in the pohottuwa election campaign that he is given to laspses of memory. Addressing an election meeting in Mahaiyawa, Kandy, Rajapaksa accused IGP Pujith Jayasundera of supporting the Yahapalanaya election campaign. Basing his conclusion to a comment made by the IGP during an address to police officers in Vavunia, Rajapaksa accused the police chief of implicitly urging his officers to vote for the Yahapalanaya at the mini-poll. He charged the IGP for doing propaganda work for the government.
If what Rajapaksa says is a fact it behoves the authorities to bring this matter to the notice of the IGP and warn him against such improprieties. There should be no room for tampering with the electoral process under Yahapalanaya. Safeguards are already in place to keep all irregularities in check. After all, we now have a fully functional Elections Commission which is acting impartially and has inspired the confidence of all political parties. Commissioner Mahinda Deshapriya has even gone to extent of putting on notice government politicians who flout election laws.
Openings of so called development projects have been put on hold, or done with an explicit proviso that it is public funds that are being utilized on such projects and not those of the government ministers. Strict surveillance is also being done on the distribution of freebies to influence voters- a far cry from the Rajapaksa days when dansal hosted at Temple Trees were the order of the day, in the run up to elections. This was in addition to the abuse of state resources and the deployment of Samurdhi officers for election work.
It would be appropriate here to refresh the memory of Rajapaksa, who is complaining about the involvement of the IGP in the current election campaign, on the scenario with regard to the last Provincial Council Election, held for the Northern Province. Rajapaksa, who, subsequent to his presidential election defeat claimed that he was done in by the Tigers, thereby branding all Tamil voters as LTTEers, had no compunction in utilizing the services of Retired Major General G.A. Chandrasiri, who was his handpicked Governor for the Province, to openly address political rallies in the north, in violation of election laws. In accusing the IGP, it was the position of Rajapaksa that the police chief had no right to engage in politics, and, that, his primary duty is to ensure law and order and security in the country.
It is regrettable that Rajapaksa dispensed with all such lofty ideals as to the specific duty assigned to a Governor of a Province, at the time, when he allowed Major General Chandrasiri to address the voters in the north, from a political platform. One also recalls how former Defence Secretary Gotabhaya Rajapaksa openly addressed election rallies in support of his elder brother’s candidature, at the last presidential election. Nay, special interviews were given by Rajapaksa junior to selected private television channels wherein he hailed the leadership given to the war victory by his brother and the looming threat of a reappearance of the LTTE should the result go in favour of the Common Candidate. Mahinda Rajapaksa, on all those occasions, had no qualms whatsoever in shamelessly using a state official, who happened to be his sibling, to do political work on his behalf. Now, by taking up cudgels against the IGP, the former president is only demonstrating the selective amnesia that often besets politicians when painted into a corner.
Rajapaksa, has, also, in his speech, at the election rally, striven to extract maximum political capital out of the shooting incident in Kataragama, where, a youth, fleeing police orders to stop, at a security check point, was gunned down by a police constable. In yet another attempt to give the incident a communal colouring, as is his wont, Rajapaksa claimed that while youth were being shot dead in the south by the police those in the north were given the kid glove treatment, implying that the government, while accommodative of the Tamils, were discriminating against the Sinhala youth. He said; “police were killing people in Kataragama and they were not doing it in Jaffna”, as quoted in an English daily.
Here too, Rajapaksa needs a jogging of memory, which, one suspects, is shrinking away due to advancing years, or, the whole exercise is a deliberate ploy to win votes by playing the communal card.
It was hardly six months ago that a similar incident took place in Jaffna, where, both, a motorcyclist, and a youth on the pillion were killed, when police manning a road block shot at the fleeing duo. Rajapaksa could not have been unaware of the conflagration that ensued in the north, where there were massive protests, and the policeman concerned arrested, like the PC in Kataragama has been arrested.
What makes Rajapaksa think that the two incidents are poles apart? Is it because he feels that Basil Rajapaksa’s efforts to create a political presence for pohottuwa in the north had come a cropper and it was best that he (MR) places all eggs in the southern basket?
Daily News, January 25, 2018