Challenging Modi In Colombo
| by Tisaranee Gunasekara
“I know what to give and what not to give.”
Mahinda Rajapaksa (The Hindu – .!."##$%
( &une '( "#)*( +o,o-bo( .ri /anka Guardian % 0uring an e1tensive interview with 2The
Hindu3( 4resident Mahinda Rajapaksa was asked about his o5t6repeated 2)7th 8-end-ent p,us3
9:ven to-orrow I ;an give that<” he rep,ied pro-pt,y.
That was &u,y "##$.
0uring the ne1t 5ive years( 4resident Rajapaksa pro-ised )7= and denied pro-ising )7=( again
The +hie5 Minister o5 Ta-i, >adu & &aya,a,ithaa -et the 4ri-e Minister on 7rd &une.
The Rajapaksas and their a;o,ytes (in;,uding the ??.% were e,ated when >arendra Modi won.
They see-ed to have be,ieved that Mr. Modi3s Hindu supre-a;is- wou,d -ake hi- bond with
his ideo,ogi;a, b,ood6brothers in +o,o-bo. Mr. Modi3s non6dependen;e on Ta-i,nadu
in;reased +o,o-bo3s e,ation. The invitation to attend his swearing6in see-ed the de5initive
vindi;ation o5 this opti-isti; out,ook.
9@e are at ease. >ow Mr. Modi ;an take independent and strong de;isions on any issue(”
Minister Aehe,iya Ra-bukwe,,a ;rowed .
The rea,ity was a,-ost antipoda,. Mr. Modi reported,y in5or-ed 4resident Rajapaksa that he
shou,d i-p,e-ent the )7th 8-end-ent e1peditious,y( and -ove beyond it. 9Rajapaksa is ,earnt
to have e1p,ained that su;h things ;ou,d not be done overnight. Modi was to rep,y that it was
now over 5ive years sin;e the separatist war ended. 8t one point the Indian 4ri-e Minister had
turned to :1terna, 855airs Ministry .e;ertary .ujatha .ingh and Bueried what assuran;es was
given by Rajapaksa to his prede;essor( Man-ohan .ingh. .he had rep,ied that it was to 5u,,y
i-p,e-ent the )7th 8-end-ent and go beyond it.”
The ;ourteous and gent,e-an,y Man-ohan .ingh wou,d not have re-inded Mahinda
Rajapaksa o5 his broken pro-ises so ba,d,y. ?ut >arendra Modi o5 the Gujarati6in5a-y is no
stranger to bu,,ying( any-ore than the Rajapaksas are. The di55eren;e is that Mr. Modi is the
,eader o5 the regiona, behe-oth whi,e Mr. Rajapaksa3s do-ain is ,i-ited to "(77" sBuare
Mr. Modi3s a,-ost antitheti;a, treat-ent o5 4akistani and /ankan ,eaders is instru;tive. Mr.
Modi went out o5 his way to be 5riend,y to >awaC .hari55( even at the risk o5 in5uriating his
own ,unati; 5ringe. It was evident in his pub,i; greeting o5 Mr. .hari55 and in gestures su;h as
the gi5ting o5 a shaw, to Mr. .hari553s -other. . These p,easantries wi,, not reso,ve the Indo6
4akistan disputes or bring pea;e to Aash-irD but they show that bi,atera, dea,ings( be they
a-i;ab,e or hosti,e( wi,, be ;ondu;ted with a degree o5 -utua, respe;t. The ba,an;e o5 power
between the two ;ountries is 5ar 5ro- eBua,( but it is not dia-etri;a,,y ,opsided either.
Mahinda Rajapaksa got no pub,i; presents and the barest o5 handshakes. He was treated with
de-ands and re-inders. En,ike 4akistan( /anka ;annot rea,isti;a,,y stand up to India on her
own. The worst +o,o-bo ;an do on its own is to ;at;h so-e Ta-i,nadu 5isher-en. In the ,arger
s;he-e o5 things( /anka ;ounts not per se( but as the pawn o5 a riva, power.
.o the Rajapaksas 5a;e a di,e--a. They -ust either devo,ve power or give up their
dependen;y on +hina.
4erhaps the 4resident thinks that the -eeting in 0e,hi was ;aused by a passing i,,6windD or that
with +hinese ba;king he ;an sBuare up to India.
That -ay be why ,ast week( Minister G/ 4eiris ru,ed out )7=.
>ow the ba,, is ba;k in 0e,hi3s ;ourt.
Enti, Mahinda Rajapaksa be;a-e the ./F4GE4F8 ;andidate( there was a broad .outhern
;onsensus about the need 5or a po,iti;a, so,ution to the ethni; prob,e- going beyond the )7th
8-end-ent. The unitary state had ;eased to be a sa;red6;ow and 5edera,is- a dirty word.
.inha,a6.outh was not opposed to greater devo,utionD anti6devo,utionists were ;on5ined to the
8 sea6;hange happened with the advent o5 the Rajapaksas. In Mahinda +hinthana I( +andidate
Rajapaksa e-bra;ed the unitary state and reje;ted traditiona, ho-e,ands. In "##H( he got the
&I4 to 5i,e a ;ase against the >orth6:astern -erger. @ith +& .arath .i,va sti,, in ;ahoots with
Mahinda Rajapaksa( the out;o-e was a 5oregone ;on;,usion.
The 5o,,owing report by >arayan .wa-i indi;ates how -u;h o5 a travesty the ;ase wasJ 9<.at
the ,ast hearing in the ;ase( the ;hie5 justi;e kept guiding ;ounse, 5or one o5 the &I4
Aang6Ishwaran( who appeared 5or the Ta-i, side( was not a,,owed to syste-ati;a,,y argue his
;ase<.. The ;hie5 justi;e angri,y ordered ;ounse, 5or a ,e5twing party<.to take his seat a5ter
just two -inutes o5 appearan;e. @hen ;ounse, 5or the &I4 wanted to sub-it written ad-issions
to ;ounter Aang6Ishwaran( the ;hie5 justi;e gave his nod. ?ut when Aang6Ishwaran sought
si-i,ar privi,ege( he did not get per-ission.” .
Mahinda Rajapaksa is an authenti; representative o5 the ./F4 whi;h opposed even the -eagre
00+s and supported the &I43s vio,ent anti68;;ordG4+ ;a-paign. His signature 2po,iti;a,
so,ution3 entai,ed rep,a;ing provin;ia, ;oun;i,s with distri;t ;oun;i,s and e-powering the
president to appoint any ;oun;i,,or o5 his ;hoi;e as the ;hie5 -inister (in;,uding 5ro- a ,osing
The Rajapaksas do not want to share power with any non6kin. The Rajapaksas need +hinese
-oney. .ooner or ,ater( they wi,, 5ind the-se,ves ;on5ronting Mr. Modi.
@i,, Ta-i, 0iaspora Ma1i-a,ists save the RajapaksasK
In .ri /anka -ajoritarian de-o;ra;y was -isused to under-ine both de-o;ra;y and justi;e(
and to turn Ta-i,s into se;ond ;,ass ;itiCens in their own ;ountry. This de-onstrates that
de-o;ra;y a,one ;annot guarantee -inority rightsD there -ust be devo,ution as we,,.
.inha,a and Ta-i, e1tre-is-s be;a-e the do-inant ideo,ogi;a, dyna-i; o5 .outhern and
>orthern so;ieties at di55erent ti-es. They turned the ;risis into a her-iti; one by rendering a
po,iti;a, so,ution i-possib,e. The /TT: is gone but .inha,a6?uddhist supre-a;is- re-ains
triu-phant( a pi,,ar o5 the Rajapaksa6ethos.
Re-oving the Rajapaksas 5ro- power wi,, not reso,ve the ethni; prob,e-. ?ut even the 5irst
step towards reso,ving the ethni; prob,e- ;annot be taken without re-oving the Rajapaksas
The E>4 has -oved ba;kwards on the devo,utionary 5ront. ?ut a reversion is possib,e( be;ause
the E>4 ad-its the e1isten;e o5 an ethni; prob,e- and a;;epts the need 5or a po,iti;a, so,ution.
Ender a ,ess ar;hai; ,eadership( the ./F4 ;an progress towards a -ore -oderate stan;e on
.o ,ong as the /TT: was a,ive( .inha,a6?uddhist -a1i-a,ists did not have to 5ear devo,ution.
They ;ou,d depend on the /TT: to shoot6down every devo,utionary proposa,.
>arendra Modi has o55ered his ba;king 5or a po,iti;a, so,ution around )7=. 0uring her
+o,o-bo 4ress +on5eren;e( >avi 4i,,ai said that 9those in the 0iaspora who ;ontinue to revere
the -e-ory o5 the /TT: -ust re;ognise that there shou,d be no p,a;e 5or the g,ori5i;ation o5
su;h a ruth,ess organisation” .
These two stan;es( in ;on5,uen;e( indi;ate that IndiaGinternationa, ;o--unity opposes the
/TT: but supports /ankan Ta-i,s( opposes separatis- but supports substantia, devo,ution. The
Rajapaksas and 0iaspora -a1i-a,ists are eBua,,y in;apab,e o5 understanding this stan;e.
To su;;eed( Ta-i,s -ust p,a;e their po,iti;s and their devo,utionary proposa,s within this
spe;tru-. I5 the T>8( as the pre6e-inent Ta-i, party( re-ains within this I+GIndian -andated
-ini-a and -a1i-a( the Rajapaksas wi,, 5ind the-se,ves in a ;orner and e1posed as the so,e
i-pedi-ent to a po,iti;a, so,ution. ?ut i5 the T>8 su;;u-bs to 0iaspora -a1i-a,ists( they wi,,
-ake the Rajapaksas ,ook ,ess e1tre-e. +aught between .inha,a and Ta-i,s intransigen;e(
Modi6India -ight dis;ard devo,ution as an e1er;ise in 5uti,ity( and seek 5or other ways to prise
+o,o-bo out o5 +hina3s e-bra;e.