Political scientists’ vocabulary describes the rule by a family as familiocracy. The dual citizenship ban on public office was removed under the 20 A to the Constitution especially to pave way for future entry of the fourth sibling of the family.
Basil Rajapaksa, with no specific academic or professional qualifications though, is a man to be reckoned with. His sharp acumen and skills in getting around people, electoral organization and seeing positive results were evident in the past. Designing new political entities [the brains behind the initiation of Sri Lanka Podujana Peramuna -SLPP] formation of alliances, winning elections and forming stable governments are his forte; and that’s where his role ends as well.
As representative of the President and ‘head of the task force on economic revival and poverty eradication’, Basil has done nothing to rescue the nation from exchange crisis, debt traps, budget deficits, poverty, human/elephant conflict, agro-chemical crisis, marine pollution, escalating costs of living, and fuel calamity. However, during Mahinda Rajapaksa’s second term, he was entrusted with the enormous task of reconstruction and developing the North to its former glory by giving guidance and strength and hope to a territory that has suffered three decades of conflict.
The War-winning Mahinda Rajapaksa was voted out by the people in 2015, after a five-year second term tarnished by allegations of authoritarianism, corruption and sectarianism; and quite a few of his colleagues blamed Basil for the unexpected defeat in 2015. The new administration of Ranil-Maithri made an effort to unknot the hold of the Rajapaksas hold in politics, rather than focusing on resurrection of economy. Priorities were disregarded when the CB Bond scam occurred on the 49th day in office. All their efforts to bring Rajapaksa regime’s wrongdoers to book failed, as the family’s political set-up was too large to be dislodged. Under them, as a consequence of Bond scam, corruption, internal rifts and Easter Sunday Attacks, the economy deteriorated to lowest levels since 2001. The Rajapaksas were back as President and Prime Minister in less than five years. The family is in command again, with the eldest and a second generation holding cabinet portfolios too in addition to the top two.
The main Opposition party’s inaction with only isolated shows of multi-vehicle parades and ‘Well-of-the-House’ sit-in dramas, against Sugar scam, Pol-thel (coconut oil), X-Press fire, fuel and unplanned ban on agro-chemicals that directly affect the people have been unimpressive. There were countrywide demonstrations by small groups. [Same loin-cloth clad farmer with mammoty in Polonnaruwa was at Welimada the next day] however, no mobilization of masses.
Has the ruling Family taken the people for granted?
The rural-land-owning family from the deep south have been involved in Sri Lankan politics for eight decades. Chamal, Mahinda, Gotabaya, and Basil’s father’s brother, Don Mathew Rajapaksa [DM], was elected to the State Council, a predecessor to the Sri Lankan parliament, from Hambantota in 1936. After his untimely death in 1945, his brother, father of the current ruling family, Don Alwin [DA] Rajapaksa was elected uncontested. They were associated with UNP and DS Senanayake politics, until crossover by Bandaranaike in 1951. In early 80’s when the Rajapaksas were voted out of the electoral map of Hambantota, Basil got an opportunity to learn practical politics under giants like Gamini Dissanayake, Maithripala Senanayake and Anura Bandaranaike. It was no little luxury. Basil contested PC from UNP.
“Government MPs and some Ministers, screech, ‘it’s the commencement of ‘golden age’ of Rajapaksa rule with Basil Rajapaksa entry. Some ministers seem to have reservations as well: obviously, not only among the coalition partners, but within SLPP too”
By 2009, the two brothers Mahinda and Gotabaya had accomplished what their predecessors could not boast about; the 26-year-old war that had wrecked the country’s North-East and caused destruction to the entire nation had ended with the defeat of LTTE. However, it has left permanent scars of the conflict which continue to disturb the two siblings with ‘war crimes’ charges against Lankan Tamils.
Basil the founder of ‘Pohottuwa’ [SLPP], is to be sworn in as a MP has stirred many in the opposition. The matter is now confirmed and he is billed to walk in on July 8 as a national list MP who previously served as the Minister of Economic Development from 2010-2015, after winning from Gampaha district by obtaining the highest number of preferential votes in the island. He will take over a powerful position handling Economic Development with access to any institution coming under any ministry.
Basil Rajapaksa was investigated by yahapalana government over an alleged “misappropriation” in a scheme for the construction of housing, arrested, and bail was not permitted. In October 2016, Pugoda Magistrate D. A. Ruwanpathirana ordered authorities to auction a luxury mansion and a land in Malwana, which was allegedly owned by former Minister Basil. The Magistrate ordered the house and land in Gangabada Road, Malwana to be auctioned. The Magistrate delivered the verdict following a case filed by the FCID, a special unit [illegally?] set up to deal with corruption in the Rajapaksa regime, and supervised by the ‘Anti-Corruption Secretariat’ operating in Temple Trees, manned by some government and pro-govt. MPs. Basil denied any ownership of it. FCID were determined only to scratch the surface and not to dig deep in the matter; further proceedings were abandoned.
“War-winning Mahinda Rajapaksa was voted out by the people in 2015, after a five-year second term tarnished by allegations of authoritarianism, corruption and sectarianism; and quite a few of his colleagues blamed Basil for the unexpected defeat in 2015”
How he is going to resurrect the shattered economy, or give cash benefits to affected masses is the Billion dollar question. Shifting his time and energy from his pet area of Party organizer to full-time cabinet obligations will certainly hamper Pohottuwa’s future progress. The inexperienced General Secretary can do little for the party in preparation for local and provincial elections that are due by 2022/23. The panicking opposition must get over the andro-phobia and be happy that their main ‘enemy’ is somewhat distanced from the electoral map. They instead use every little space available in firing all the salvos against the idea of Basil’s entry.
Government MPs and some Ministers, screech, ‘it’s the commencement of ‘golden age’ of Rajapaksa rule with Basil Rajapaksa entry. Some ministers seem to have reservations as well: obviously, not only among the coalition partners, but within SLPP too. Strategic skills in political scheming and maneuvering aimed at seizing power from its opponents’ are not going to help people or the country, but only the politicians, their stooges and sycophant cohorts who fill most of 225 seats on either side of the divide.
Opposition members have stopped talking on many burning issues that people are facing, but focus on Basil’s advent. They say, there is nothing Basil can do in the cabinet. However, being preoccupied with the fear object, in an excessive and crazy fear reaction they seem to experience a deep sense of dread or panic, hearing the name, they are trembling.
High time they stop making loud cries of Basil, Basil and Basil…! There seems no end to SJB’s phobias, from Ranil to Basil; will it be Ranawaka the next; who frankly announced 43 Brigade’s leadership intents? Sajith Premadasa must leave aside individuals and get cracking on affective programmes in mobilizing mass activity.
Disclaimer: Basil’s Advent; Pohottuwa the LOSER: Phobias and Familiocracy by K.K.S Perera - Views expressed by writers in this section are their own and do not necessarily reflect Latheefarook.com point-of-view