With impending Local Government Elections, all major parties have started selecting candidates and if there was any political leader that stunned the entire country with his campaign, that is non-other than Basil Rajapaksa. Rajapaksa was extensively blamed and criticized for the embarrassing defeat of former President Mahinda Rajapaksa at the presidential elections held in January 2015.
The beginning of his campaign took many aback when Rajapaksa (Basil), who did not attempt hiding a bunch of amulets (surayas) as he got engaged in religious activities in Jaffna, declared his new party, the Sri Lanka Podujana Party (SLPP) supports the full return of all occupied private land in Jaffna.
Taking few steps ahead than even the stance of the Yahapalana Government he said that not only should government and military occupied lands be returned to original Tamil owners, but those who did not originally own property should be given State land.
“It is a question that must be addressed. We were trying to solve it (during our time), it is an emotional issue. It must be solved in a very humane way,” he said while lamenting moderate Tamil parties not cooperating with the Rajapaksa regime.
Rajapaksa talking at the Jaffna Press Club last Sunday after travelling there to set up a grassroots network of the SLPP in the region, also supported attempts to end the problem of tens of thousands of people still missing eight years after the end of the separatist war.
He said the issue of people who had disappeared during and after the war should be addressed “humanely” and a solution found at the earliest.
“It is a question that must be addressed. We were trying to solve it during our time, it is an emotional issue. It must be solved in a very humane way,” he said.
Even though he was reluctant to share the sentiments of former army chief Sarath Fonseka that the security forces he commanded committed “war crimes” during and after the war said; “I think our forces didn’t do war crimes, but individuals might have done. It is not war crimes. We can call (it) crimes.”
However, he made it clear that he was unhappy with Field Marshall Fonseka’s comments. “I don’t think the person who led the forces at that time should talk like this.”
Immediate response to Basil’s remarks came from Co-Cabinet Spokesman Minister Rajitha Senaratne who said that former President Rajapaksa may still have been in power had he only listened to his brother Basil instead of his other sibling, Gotabaya.
The Minister of Health and Indigenous Medicine made these remarks in response to a question raised by a reporter during Cabinet media briefing, who inquired as to whether the Government was willing to release more lands held by the State in the Northern Province as Basil Rajapaksa had advocated for the release of such lands recently.
“Now we have no more obstacles in our way hindering us from releasing the lands. These people were the ones who were against the release of the lands in the Northern Province. Now that Basil has said that they would do the same we can go ahead and keep our election promise and release these lands back to the people.”
Though it is not immediately clear as to what Basil Rajapaksa is up to, it is clear that he is hell-bent on hunting minority votes even at the expense of his brothers’ reputation. Well known sources revealed that he is in constant touch with Suren Surenthiran of the Global Tamil Forum.