Even though the Rajapaksa top guns baptised Gotabaya in March as the family’s chosen seed to contest the presidency, former president and elder sibling Mahinda Rajapaksa is still to officially christen him as the Pohottuwa Party’s official candidate.
And emerging from the Bellanwila Temple after being head-massaged with oil at the traditional New Year ceremony, he told the media that the party was still to decide on the candidate.
He said, “We will make a decision with the input and consent of all allies. The one who can definitely win will be fielded as the candidate.”
In the week that followed the Easter carnage, though Gotabaya rushed to stake his claim and imply that he is the anointed one to lead the nation from weakness to strength and destroy the Islamic extremists threat, he still must wait to be given the sacramental oil of approval from his elder all powerful charismatic brother.
Last fortnight, in a voice clip to the media, Mahinda Rajapaksa refused to grant him his blessing, saying, “It’s a part decision and we will have to wait and see.” When further questioned by the media as to when the party will decide, he said no date had yet been fixed to decide on the matter and it would be announced in due course.
The nation knows only too well that though G L Peiris is the front man as chairman of the Sri Lankan Podu Peramuna, the power behind the chair is Mahinda and no one else. Without Mahinda, there will be no SLPP. It goes without saying that what Mahinda says goes. So what makes the elder still withhold his blessings to his younger sibling?
For whatever the Rajapaksa family choice may have been, arrived at over a private family repast where he, too, is reported to have given the green light to Gota’s candidacy, the Sri Lankan Podujana Peramuna must endorse him as their official candidate. And that needs Mahinda’s all important, personal nod.
But how can they do it when the favoured Rajapaksa mascot, tasked with carrying the family flag to revive the lost fortunes of the Rajapaksa dynastic ambitions, has still not announced in public whether he is even a card carrying member of the party.
But, of course, that’s no oddity. And who can blame him? For neither Mahinda Rajapaksa and the whole host of SLPP MPs are members of this G L Peiris driven vehicle designed to float the Rajapaksas back to power.
On November 11, in a much publicised ceremony held at his official residence at Wijerama Mawatha in Colombo 7, Mahinda Rajapaksa accepted membership of the SLPP from its chairman G L Peiris and then proceeded to make 30 other SLFP members Pohottuwa members. Only when it was later pointed out that membership of a new party, namely, SLPP, effectively resigning from the UPFA from which they had been elected to Parliament may possibly lead them to lose their seats in Parliament, was the guffaw discovered and attempts taken immediately to dismiss the notion that they had accepted membership of the SLPP. Thus G L Peiris’s Pohottuwa remains today a party without a single MP.
And even as a US federal court judge unsealed two months ago in a California court the case filed by Ahimsa Wickrematunge, daughter of slain Sunday Leader Editor Lasantha Wickrematunge, against Gotabaya Rajapaksa alleging his involvement in the Editor’s murder – and thus set in motion the US legal process – Mahinda Rajapaksa told the media at Bellanwilla Temple on April 16 that it is likely that many more cases will be filed in US courts, giving echo to what the Sunday Punch said on April 14 that, coupled with the torture case filed by the International Truth and Justice Committee on behalf of a Canadian citizen of Tamil origin named Roy Samathanam who will be represented in court by top human rights lawyer Scott Gilmour, “these initial cases may have served only to open the flood gates for others to follow suit and file similar allegations in the US courts.”
Of course, Mahinda Rajapaksa added: “Anyone can file cases and this shows how frightened some are.” True again. With the spate of cases darkening the horizon, the question is who is shivering most?
But one thing is clear. With Gotabaya still to become a member of the Pohottuwa party, with Gotabaya still to be officially endorsed by his all powerful brother Mahinda who has the final say, with Gotabaya facing several cases of corruption in Lankan courts, with Gotabaya now facing two cases, one involving allegations of complicity in murder and the other involving allegations of complicity in torture now before US courts, with brother Mahinda warning that more cases may be filed in US courts, which may well deny him his right to renounce US citizenship in advance of presidential elections in Lanka and make him ineligible to contest it, it seems for Gotabaya that it’s a long, long way to Tipperary.