Basil takes a bold step

Basil Rajapaksa

The famous slogan put forward by former President Mahinda Rajapaksa during his Presidential campaign trail in the North was “known devil is better than unknown angel”. However, the Northerners and the Easterners preferred the ‘unknown angel’ for the ‘known devil’ by helping to overthrow the Rajapaksa regime with their verdict ‘whatever devil is a devil’ at the Presidential poll in 2015.

A few days after the landmark verdict given on school girl Vithya Sivaloganathan gruesome murder case with death sentences passed on seven of the accused, the former Economic Development Minister Basil Rajapaksa was in Jaffna to launch the political activities of his newly formed party Sri Lanka Podujana Peramuna.

Having been a prominent Minister and being a member of the Rajapaksa family, Basil’s visit to Jaffna last week was very significant in many ways as it was after the Presidential Poll defeat in 2015, Basil who was one of the main strategists of Mahinda Rajapaksa’s Presidential election campaign visited Jaffna for the first time.

After the discussions he had in Jaffna with his party men Basil met the prominent Hindu and Catholic religious dignitaries and spoke to them on the present situation in the North.

Basil would have got the opportunity to read the pulse of the people in the North with the comment made by Rev. Gnanasampantha Paramachariyar, Chief Priest of the Nallur Gnanasampanthar Atheenam which is a foremost Hindu institution in Jaffna.

More than a spiritual leader the Reverend Gnanasampantha Paramachariyar is a person who remained in Jaffna and witnessed the terrifying conditions in the Peninsula when the turbulent conditions engulfed the region.

It is not only this Hindu dignitary even the Catholic Bishop of Jaffna is also an observer of the pre-and post war developments and their views as neutral persons were considered noteworthy by the local as well as the foreign dignitaries who pay courtesy calls on them.

Basil Rajapaksa was briefed on the present mind frame of the people of Jaffna by Rev. Gnanasampantha Paramachariyar. The Hindu dignitary said: “First of all the Buddhist fanatics in the South should be enlightened on strengthening peace and reconciliation in the country. Extremism in politics or religion shouldn’t be allowed to derail the good efforts to strengthen the peace and reconciliation.”

As Sri Lanka is blessed with all major religions in the world, except for Buddhist clergy there were hardly any clergymen of other religions who flexed their muscles in the politics of the country.

So, the comment made by the Hindu dignitary from Jaffna to former Minister Basil Rajapaksa has clearly indicated that the efforts to strengthen peace and reconciliation should be carried out by getting rid of the involvement of Buddhist monks in politics.

Constructive move

Rev. Gnanasampantha Paramachariyar also mentioned categorically that the people in the North were not against any constructive move to bring about a political solution to the ethnic question.

Later, addressing the press at the Jaffna Press Club, Basil Rajapaksa spoke positively on several issues on the peace building process in the North.

Basil as Minister of Economic Development played a key role in rebuilding the post-war infrastructure facilities in the North and the East.

So as a former Minister focused on the Economic Development Basil speaking to the press in Jaffna emphasized on the need of releasing the lands still in the possession of the Security Forces in the North.

Basil though he didn’t meet the families of the involuntarily disappeared persons during his stay in Jaffna had pointed out the need of expediting the process to find a solution to the issue.

In the meantime Cabinet Spokesman and Minister of Health Dr. Rajitha Senaratne commenting on the visit of Basil Rajapaksa to Jaffna last week said that if former President Mahinda Rajapaksa had listened to Basil he wouldn’t have lost the Presidential Poll in 2015.

Dr. Senaratne’s comment is interesting as former President Mahinda Rajapaksa depended heavily on his brother Gotabaya Rajapaksa to bring an end to the separatist war militarily in the North.

However, even after ending the separatist war the former President depended more on Gotabaya instead of focusing on the economic oriented humanitarian activities and dealing effectively on the political front to build up the credibility of the North and East people.

So, Minister Dr. Rajitha Senaratne being a member of the Rajapaksa government was absolutely correct that former President Mahinda Rajapaksa depending on Gotabaya even in the post-war period had led to the neglect of several humanitarian issues shattering the hopes of the people in the North and the East who expected that early solutions would be reached in releasing the LTTE suspects as well as in meting out justice for the alleged atrocities committed during the three decades of separatist war.

Therefore, Basil Rajapaksa’s visit to Jaffna last week was an ‘eye opener’ for the previous regime to understand where they went wrong in getting the support of the Northerners and the Easterners as also a wakeup call to the present regime not to repeat the same errors his brother had committed in dealing with the North and the East.

(Source: Ceylon Today – By Manekshaw)

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