Who changed Maithri’s mind?
Indian Premier Narendra Modi visited Sri Lanka after Maithripala Sirisena assumed the Presidency. He met Mahinda Rajapaksa too during that brief visit. Following that meeting, Mahinda displayed to his followers that he had received some blessings from Modi and this information reached New Delhi. After Modi returned to India the truth of what Modi told Mahinda was revealed.
Modi had told Mahinda that the latter had ruled Sri Lanka for two terms and was time for him to retire from politics to be at leisure. This had been Modi’s response when Mahinda had expressed his desire to return to active politics and looked for blessings from India. Modi had given a piece of advice but Mahinda did not want to reveal it thinking it would be detrimental to his desire to return to active politics.
Mahinda who declared his intention to return to active politics and gave an interview to a certain Indian media attempted to convince the Indians to get support towards his second journey in politics. During that interview Mahinda pointed out that Chinese investments and projects in Sri Lanka did not pose a threat to India and, he would like Ms. Sirima Bandaranaike did in 1962 would be a bridge to bring India and China together. Before Mahinda declared his desire to contest the upcoming general election in August, Chinese Navy Chief Zhao too made a similar statement to the media in China. Following is the report of that statement; “The Indian Ocean cannot be a backyard of India which Navies of other countries could not visit, the Chinese Ministry of Defence has said. As the People’s Liberation Army (PLA) Navy expands its profile in the Indian Ocean with recent submarine visits to Sri Lanka and more recently Pakistan, its officials have moved to assuage India’s concerns by emphasizing its motivations were driven by trade and security and not aimed at India, Indian media reported.
Senior Captain Zhao Yi told visiting Indian journalists in Beijing on Tuesday that India had a “special role to play in stabilizing the Indian Ocean region”, but it could not be treated as its backyard.
“I admit that geographically speaking India has a special role to play in stabilizing the Indian Ocean region and South Asian region. But [for the Indian Ocean], backyard is not a very appropriate word to use for an open sea and international areas of sea,” he said. He said if the Indian side views the Indian Ocean as its backyard, it cannot explain why Navies from Russia, the United States and Australia have the right of free navigation in Indian Ocean. He said one American scholar had warned of the possibility of ‘clashes’ in the Indian Ocean. ‘I don’t agree,’ Senior Captain Zhao said, but added: “If some countries view it as their backyard, then this [possibility] could not be eliminated.” The Chinese experts did, however, acknowledge the need for more transparency, especially in the wake of concerns in Indian strategic circles over submarine visits by the PLAN to Sri Lanka last year and to Pakistan earlier this year. China described both visits as routine.
“When most submarines navigate we inform our neighbouring countries to reduce concerns and enhance mutual trust,” said Zhang Wei, Researcher of the PLA Navy Academic Institute. Zhang added that China’s attention on the Indian Ocean Region was driven by trade, with key energy imports passing through the waters. “The Chinese Navy’s presence in the Indian Ocean is to protect maritime security and of sea lines of communication. We should make efforts to strengthen trust. If there are still doubts and concerns of navigation in the Indian Ocean then I believe we haven’t done enough to enhance mutual trust,” said Zhang. (Business Standard and India Today)
The above report clearly manifested the Chinese attempt to bring back Mahinda to power and its agenda to show that Chinese funded projects in Sri Lanka never posed a threat to India and thereby seek Indian blessings. While the agendas of Mahinda and China drew similarities, Maithri’s decision to offer nominations to Mahinda yet remains a secret. When Maithri met Chandrika recently he pointed out to the latter that if the SLFP split, the UNP would get a two thirds majority to form a government and added that he was guided by intelligence reports to take a decision to offer nominations to Mahinda. He has also told the same story to representatives of civil organizations. They however, argued that Mahinda who won the terrorist war and held a general election in 2010 could not secure two thirds majority despite his popularity being at peak and pointed out that under the proportional representation system no single party could get that absolute majority.
Now the question is as to who instilled fear in Maithri’s mind that the UNP would get a two thirds majority? And, if Maithri decided on such a move based on intelligence reports, on what grounds did intelligence units prepare such a report. When Gamini Dissanayake who left the UNP and formed the DUNF wanted to return to the UNP under President D.B. Wijetunga, Ranil and Sirisena Cooray vehemently opposed Gamini’s re-entry. However, Wijetunga took Gamini on the National List and offered him a ministerial portfolio. It was said that a “3B’ system close to Wijetunga had helped to change Wijetunga’s mind to help Gamini make a return to the UNP. The ‘3B’ system is said to be; Black Money, Blackmail and Black Rist. So Gamini had convinced the ‘3B’ to change Wijetunga’s mind. The Black Rist Intelligence Unit had stated that if Gamini was taken back the UNP could win elections. This is not a proved theory so far. Ranil-Cooray camp worked contrary to those reports.
There are many rumours spreading about Mahinda’s nomination. Though there is no truth in those rumours, in this sport of politics Mahinda and China seem to have secured a temporary victory.