Mahinda Rajapaksa during his tenure as the President of Sri Lanka ran a police state and if he was successful in returning to power as Prime Minister in recent parliamentary polls the country would have experienced massive killings of innocents, according to former President Chandrika Bandaranaike Kumaratunga.
Kumarantunga, who played a key role in unseating Rajapaksa in last January’s Presidential polls, announced on Saturday that her visit to India would be followed by that of Prime Minister Ranil Wickremansinghe on Sep 15 as his maiden visit abroad since reelection.
Talking to a select group of journalists in New Delhi today Kumaratunga, however, warned that Rajapaksa who muzzled voices of Sinhalas and Tamils during his decade-long-rule has not given dream of returning to power. “His primary aim of returning to power is to ensure that corruption charges are not pressed against him,” noted the former President who was in Delhi to participate in the just concluded Hindu-Buddhist conference organized by the Vivekananda International Foundation.
Asserting that role and preeminence of India in the region cannot be wished away, fiery Lankan politician pointed out that Rajapaksa had supposedly tried to balance India in her country by promoting other powers. “But India is special to Sri Lanka and we need Indian support in form of investments among other things. India’s role in South Asia has been acknowledged globally. Its strategic position cannot be undermined,” noted the former President who was instrumental in bringing anti-Rajapaksa faction in Sri Lanka Freedom Party (SLFP) and opposition United National Party to jointly oppose Mahinda Rajapaksa.
She admitted that the Chinese funded projects in Sri Lanka had incurred huge debts on Colombo as the cost of such projects were high due to commissions paid to the Rajapaksa regime.
Dismissing Rajapaksa’s claim of India’s hand in his defeat in Presidential polls last January, she said that the former head of state was looking for scapegoats after he was voted out of power. “The people of Sri Lanka can manage their democracy on their own.”
Recalling the process that ousted Rajapaksa from power Kumaratunga informed that protests were launched by the civil society two years ago and there was demand that she take the lead in ousting the tyrant regime. “Rajapaksa created enormous hurdles in this journey and even did not allow any SLFP leaders or Ministers to meet me. But as demands grew for an alternate leader I zeroed on Maithiripala Sirisena who has a clean image among the SLFP leadership. I also got in touch with Opposition leader Ranil Wickremansinghe and the common enemy brought us together,” recounted the former two-time President as she did not rule out possibility of returning to active politics at a later stage.
On the issue of reconciliation with the Tamil minorities Kumaratunga, who is also the chairman of the national reconciliation commission noted that the period provides golden opportunity to address the issue permanently. “We are working towards handing over land back to Tamils, addressing the disappearance issue and devolution package. India understandably has a dynamic role to play in this process,” she said, adding that both sides are responsible for the fishermen impasse and need to address the issue earnestly.
The Economic Times