Rise and fall of the “political” dynasty of Rajapaksa
In southern Sinhalese, the majority population of the Sinhalese-Buddhist community regarded the Rajapaksas as divine figures for freeing them from the terror the LTTE had unleashed upon them.
Mahinda won a second term as president and had the Constitution amended to remove the two-term ban. He was convinced that he would be president for life.
Gotabaya continued as Defense Secretary of Mahinda, became a parallel center of power, wielding fear-mongering influence.
He had given his office a royal touch where his throne-like chair was placed at a higher level than those of his visitors. Dozens of people who were known critics of the government were abducted.
Around 2009-2010, Rajapaksas gave vent to the Bodu Bala Sena, a Buddhist extremist group that sparked several incidents of anti-Muslim violence.
Their younger brother Basil was Minister for Economic Development and controlled all investment in Sri Lanka when Chamal, the eldest, was President.
At that particular time, according to analysts, as many as 40 Rajapaksas held one or another position and between them controlled most of the government’s finances and under their sway freedoms suffered.
Fall of Rajapaksas:-
Mahinda remained in office until 2015, when he lost to opposition after his Cabinet colleague Maithripala Sirisena joined rival Wickremesinghe.
However, they bided their time and launched the Sri Lanka Podujana Peramuna (SLPP or Popular Front) in 2016 as a people’s party, appealing mainly to the majority Sinhalese-Buddhist community.
But as the economic burden mounted, public anger began to focus on the Rajapaksa family as there was no explanation for the financial collapse.
Reeling from the soaring cost of living, protests began across the island, demanding the bare essentials. The world’s attention has been drawn to a new protest on the iconic seafront esplanade known as the Galle Face. There, young men and women declared a protest site and dubbed it the village “GotaGoHome”. Peaceful demonstrations took place there without interruption for a month.
The growing protest and its scale have shown that the Rajapaksas are no longer the popular political family they once were. Calls for collective resignation were demanded for forensic audits, recovery of stolen assets and legal action against Rajapaksas made people feel that Rajapaksas was responsible for the bankrupt state of the island.
With long queues of people queuing daily for average daily necessities, such as fuel, gasoline, medical and food supplies, exasperated by the same, the country has gradually transformed into a field of protest.
Since April 3, four Rajapaksas have resigned from their positions under enormous public pressure. It was obvious that the family was on their backs.
Mahinda Rajapaksa, once among Sri Lanka’s most beloved politicians, has not remained the same. Later in his final attempt, Mahinda called a meeting with his sidekick Johnston Fernando at his official Temple Trees residence on May 9. They spoke passionately of meeting the force and affirmed that they would not run away in fear. Soon, goons emerged from the prime minister’s compound, some carrying poles.
They attacked protesters at Galle Face, flattening temporary huts and beating people, which became the turning point and within hours the homes of Rajapaksa loyalists were burned to the ground.
Those who loved him and looked up to Mahinda turned against him. Not just protesters, even his own supporters had become protesters.
Asian News Network
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