Gotabaya Rajapaksa’s Book “The Conspiracy” is a Banal Conspiracy Theory Repetition Without Substantive Proof to Bolster it.



The Mountains have laboured and brought forth a mouse!. Former Sri Lankan President Nandasena Gotabaya Rajapaksa has after many poya days reportedly authored a book. The political grapevine had been buzzing for several months that a book by the ex-president known popularly as Gota and Gotabaya was in progress. It was supposedly a bombshell book with explosive revelations. The book belied such expectations..It was a damp squib!

Gotabaya Rajapaksa released a statement on March 6th that his book will be launched on March 7th 2024. He also posted on X as follows – My book “The Conspiracy to oust me from the Presidency” will be available in English and Sinhala at leading bookstores from tomorrow, Thursday, March 7th, 2024. The firsthand experience of an internationally sponsored regime change operation.”

There was no public book launch event. The books both in Sinhala and English were available for purchase at many Sri Lankan bookshops from morning onwards on March 7th. The English version had 179 pages and was priced at 1800 rupees. The title was “The Conspiracy to oust me from the Presidency”. The words ‘The Conspiracy” were in strikingly large capital letters. The cover had Gota;s picture and the line ‘How internationally-sponsored regime change made a mockery of the democracy of Sri Lanka’.

Gota’s Book

A blurb about Gota’s book stated as follows – “His book tells the story of the ouster of a democratically elected President through conspiracies and mob violence sponsored by interested foreign parties and with the participation of specific sections of Sri Lankan society. The events of 2022 added a new dimension to the politics of Sri Lanka which has exercised universal adult franchise since 1931 and had an unbroken record of peaceful and constitutional changes of government since gaining independence in 1948. The end of the war against the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam in 2009 saw ramped up foreign intervention in Sri Lanka due to a multiplicity of motivating factors. The interventionist strategy to bring Sri Lanka under neocolonialist domination has been centered on the manipulation of communal politics and the running down of the economy. This is that story, as seen from the very epicenter of the storm.”

With such a powerful build-up much was expected of the book. Conspiracy theorist appetites had been considerably whetted by an earlier book written by a one time Gotabaya loyalist and ideological fellow traveller Wimal Weerawansa. The national socialist firebrand had in a book” Nine:The Hidden Story” accused foreign elements of backing the “Aragalaya”or “Struggle”that had overthrown the Rajapaksa regime in 2022. Weerawansa named US envoy Julie Chung of being the mastermind who orchestrated the regime change. The US Ambassador denied the charge.

In that contexr Gotabaya Rajapaksa’s book was expected to clarify and amplify the accusations levelled in Wimal Weerawansa’s book. The emphasis given to Conspiracy on the cover suggested that Gota would make startling revelations with extensive details about how he was the victim of alleged internationally sponsored regime change.

But the book was merely a banal repetition of a conspiracy theory without substantive proof to bolster it. There was no direct reference to the USA or any other country.The hype around a US spearheaded international conspiracy was not evident in the book’s pages. In fact many believe Weerawansa did a better job than Gotabaya in this respect.

Gota’s book has fifteen sections or chapters.They are – 1.Introduction, 2.prejudices of external parties, 3.the economy in 2019, 4.the global Covid-19 pandemic, 5. coping with the economic fallout, 6. lives first: the vaccination drive, 7.politics of a two-thirds majority, 8.aborted FDI and organic farming initiatives, 9. shortages, queues and mob violence, 10. destabilisation by fifth columnists, 11. difficult economic policy choices, 12. misconstructions and blame, 13. the politics of regime change, 14.the law and order debacle, and 15. postscript.

“The Conspiracy”

Despite the short notice given about the book’s release and the lack of pre-launch publicity , “The Conspiracy” has reportedly enjoyed good sales. Copies of the book have been largely sold out in several book stores. A second batch of books are expected to fill the bookshelves later this week. Meanwhile there are reports that Netflix is likely to make a movie out of this best seller. The script is said to be ready. If indeed a movie is to be made out of this bland book, the film would need much more spice to be added to make it a block buster.

Gota’s book written in the first person has a lot of interesting details. Most of them were already known.What it lacks however is the “punch” that is required of a book about an alleged international conspiracy that resulted in an allegedly unjust regime change. An innocent victim of such a conspiracy would be seething with indignation at the injustice. But Gota;s book is insipid.

Instead of being on the offensive, Gotabaya is on the defensive. He portrays himself as a victim of a conspiracy without elaborating on the specifics of the conspiracy. Gota’s brief rule as executive president from November 2019 to July 2022 was characterised by monumental mis- governance and colossal corruption.He was unbelievably arrogant and totally inept in handling affairs of the state. But there is no realisation or admission of Gota’s deficiencies or folly. Instead he takes cover behind a conspiracy theory and wallows in self -pity.

A point that comes through in Gota’s tirade is his total lack of empathy with the Sri Lankan people who elected him to power. He betrayed them all by his incompetent discharge of duties. The people suffered. The farmers were ruined. Yet there is not a single word of apology in the book

Even while blaming others for his decline and downfall, Gotabaya Rajapaksa is either unwilling or unable or both to call a spade a spade. He does not blame any western or eastern country of a direct plot to topple him. He does not critize his family members or party colleagues. He is not critical of key officials in the defence sector or armed services. He writes about all of them but is wishy-washy. There is a Tamil saying about hitting a snake without causing pain to the snake nor the stick. Gota’s book is an exercise of this sort.

The only time where Gota is hard -hitting is when he makes charges against the Pro-tiger Tamil Diaspora. But even in that Gota is mistaken. Of course there is an extremist section in the Tamil Diaspora that wants Sri Lanka to deteriorate and disintegrate. But these sections are not opposed to Gota. They would love Gota to be at the helm because under his administration the country would rapidly decline and the minority ethnicities be further estranged. In fact such elements are annoyed with Ranil Wickremesinghe for stepping in boldly and lead Sri Lanka on the road to economic recovery instead of letting the Island economy collapse under Gota.

Tamils and Muslims

Gotabaya exposes himself as a racist in laying the blame on Tamils and Muslims for the Aragalaya that toppled him. He portrays himself as a Sinhala chamion who was felled by the minorities. Gota resorts to sheer racism in making these false allegations. He insults the collective intelligence of the Sri Lankan people by making such an unfounded charge. After all the Aragaaya happened just two years ago and our collective memory is yet fresh. Gota cuts a pathetic figure in making these racist allegations.

Reading Gota’s buster and bravado, there arises a chilling thought. If indeed the Aragalaya was organized by the minority communities and if the Tamils and Muslims were in the forefront of the crowds that targeted “Janadhipathy Mandhiraya” would Gotabaya have submitted meeky? Would he have run away or ordered his men to shoot the Tamil and Muslim protesters? Was it only because the proteesters were pre-dominantly Sinhala that Gota chose flight over fight?

Gotabaya may say his downfall was due to a conspiracy. But the reaity was that Gota was a cowardly bully who could torment the weak and powerless but had no spunk as in the case of most bullies to confront the relatively powerful/In the case of the Aragalaya people’s power was supreme and the bully Gota just caved in. He was afraid to even meet ordinary Sri Lankans and simply ran away. What Gota did was tantamount to display cowardice on the battle field. In times of war he could have been court martialled and executed for such cowardice.

The cruel irony was that 69 Lakhs of Sri Lankans had elected Gotabaya to power in the belief that he was a war hero and strong and capable leader. The rea;lity was that Gota was a weak, incompetent non -leader and above all a coward who could not cope with the crisis he created. In contrast Ranil Wickremesinghe criticized by his opponents as “Mr. Bean” has demonstrated that he is far more stronger and tougher than Gotabaya.

It is said that the tough get going when the going gets tough. This was proven in the case of Ranil. He took up the challenge against overwhelming odds and has succeeded to a great extent. In the case of Gota it was the other way about. When the going got tough, he just ran away and quit office. The image built up by the Viyathmaga, Eliya and SLPP of Gota being a tough nut simply evaporated into nothing/ In that sense Gota’s book too is a metaphor. The book promises detailed evidence of a conspiracy but delivers nothing. What we see on the cover is not what we read in the book. The only conspiracy is a consopiracy against readers readers who were hoodwinked and short-changed.

Test the Waters

Why then has Gota pulled his punches without making specific revelations? If he did not want to run the risk of offending anyone then why write a book about a conspiracy to oust him? There is no definite answer but it could be a cautious attempt to test the waters.

What Gota desires is to relocate to the USA with spouse Anoma and be with his son, daughter in law and grandchild and other relatives and friends. Hence he does not want to antagonize Washington by making accusations. But he is unsure whether Washington will relent. Until then he is toying with the idea of entering active politics. For this he cannot afford to alienate his Rajapaksa clan, the SLPP , the Buddhist clergy and the Armed forces. This seems to Gota’s difficult dilemma.

If the US acts benignly and helps Sri Lanka rid itself of Gota, Colombo’s gain would be Los Angeles’loss. But if Lanka is to be saddled with Gota indefinitely, we may see Nandasena enter the electoral fray. This book could be a forerunner to that. An old dog cannot be taught new tricks. Gota’s electoral campaign can only be racist and Sinhala supremacist/ For that matter even the SLPP may resort to chauvinism in a desperate attempt to regain political power.

Rise and Fall

Gotabaya Rajapaksa’s rise and fall is in a sense a tragic tale. His inglorious flight from Sri Lanka (Both literally and figuratively )is a fascinating story that is worthy of being recounted . I shall relate in brief what had occurred then relying on some of my earlier writings.

Gotabaya Rajapaksa or Gota Rajapaksa was elected president on 16 November 2019. The former military officer and ex-secretary of defence who polled 6,924,255 votes (52.25) at the hustings was sworn in as President at the historic Ruwanweli Seya in Anuradhapura on 18 November 2019.

32 months later President Gotabaya Rajapaksa made an inglorious departure from Sri Lanka in an Air Force plane and reached the Maldives on 13 July 2022. From there he went to Singapore and resigned as President on 14 July. How did Gota Rajapaksa’s ignominious fall and flight happen?

“Go Home Gota”

Sri Lanka was in the grip of an unprecedented economic crisis in early 2022.There were acute shortages of food, fuel and electricity. Farmers were deprived of fertilizer and a famine was imminent. President Gotabaya Rajapaksa was perceived as the root cause of the crisis. This resulted in a widely popular protest movement known as the Aragalaya or Struggle against the President. Aragalaya’s key demand was “ Go Home Gota”

When the protests began, Gotabaya retreated from his private residence in Mirihana and Presidential Secretariat at Galle Face. He holed up in the President’s official residence Janadhipathy Mandiraya (President’s house) in Fort.

Several protest demonstrations asking Gota to quit were foiled by the Police and Security forces. Mounting public anger resulted in massive mobilisation of the people on July 9, 2022. Hundreds of thousands of people from all walks of life marched towards the President’s House ready for the Anthima Satana or ‘Final Battle’.

Tear gas and water cannon were used to disperse the crowds. Baton charges were conducted. Even gunshots were fired in the air. All to no avail! The protesting multitudes besieged the President’s House and were on the verge of entering the premises.


President Rajapaksa had a hurried conference with high-level defence officials and service chiefs. The retired Lt Col was urged in military parlance to make a tactical withdrawal from the battlefront. Gota was advised to leave immediately and seek safety elsewhere. Gotabaya consented to be evacuated.

Gotabaya and his wife Ayoma Rajapaksa exited President’s House precincts through a rear gate. They were escorted by the then Navy Commander Nishantha Ulugetenne in his official vehicle to the Colombo Harbour. Gota and Ayoma got on board the Sri Lankan Naval Frigate Gajabahu (P 626) that was docked there. This Advance Offshore Patrol Vessel (AOPV) had facilities for helicopters to land and take off. Gajabahu sailed off to the deep sea with the couple, keeping within Lankan territorial waters. Going aboard the Gajabahu was a safety measure as the Aragalaya protesters couldn’t launch a mid-sea attack It may be recalled that during the August 1953 hartal, the Govt of the then Prime Minister Dudley Senanayake went aboard the British Navy vessel Newfoundland to conduct Cabinet and Security Council meetings as a precautionary measure.


The Gajabahu set sail for Trincomalee. Gotabaya Rajapaksa contacted Mahinda Yapa Abeywardena by mobile phone and informed the Speaker -without revealing his whereabouts – that he would return to Colombo by July 13. Upon reaching Trincomalee, the Rajapaksas were ferried by helicopter to the Sri Lanka Air Force Base.

Gotabaya and Ayoma Rajapaksa stayed in the Trinco Air Force base on July 10. The Rajapaksas flew back to the SL Air Force base in Ratmalana by helicopter from Trinco on 11 July.

Gota convened a high-level security conference there with top officers from the Police, tri-services and intelligence agencies attending. While the discussion was in progress Ayoma Rajapaksa went from Ratmalana to their residence in Mirihana by road and took away some important documents and valuables. She then returned to Ratmalana where it was decided that Gota should go away from Sri Lanka for a while till the Aragalaya protests subsided or suppressed.


The Rajapaksas then moved by road to Katunayake from Ratmalana. The Rajapaksas found a ‘safe house’ within the SL Air Force precincts in Katunayake. It was heavily guarded and entry was restricted to only a few. From there Gotabaya engaged in moves to leave Sri Lanka for a temporary sojourn abroad. Gotabaya indicated that he wanted to remain, President until he found a place to reside abroad.


Gotabaya Rajapaksa’s initial intention was to leave for the USA with his wife Ayoma. As is well known both Gota and Ayoma were naturalized citizens of the US at one time. Gota had renounced his US citizenship to be eligible to contest the Presidential Election. Earlier he was both a citizen of the US as well as Sri Lanka. Ayoma Rajapaksa however continued to be a dual citizen of Sri Lanka and the US.

Since his only son Manoj Rajapaksa, a US citizen, was living in California and also because several other relatives and friends were also residing there, Gota wanted to leave for Los Angeles as soon as possible.

But to his dismay, Gota found himself unable to do so. As a naturalized citizen who had renounced his US citizenship, Gotabaya was not admissible for entry into the US at the present juncture.

Ayoma had no difficulty as she continued to retain her US citizenship. Mrs Rajapaksa however refused to proceed to the US alone and insisted that she won’t desert her husband and would face the future along with him.

Thereafter the couple decided to travel to Dubai or Abu Dhabi. With the Aragalaya protesters having taken over President’s House, the Presidential Secretariat and Temple Trees, Gota felt very insecure and wanted to depart from the Island’s shores as early as possible. The idea was to go to the Middle East first and then fly to Singapore from there.


Tickets were purchased and passage was booked on the SriLankan Airlines flight UL 225 to Dubai. It was scheduled to depart from the Bandaranaike International Airport(BIA)at 6.25 p.m. on July 12, 2022.

A few security officers were also to accompany the couple. When associations and unions representing SriLankan airlines Pilots and Cabin staff personnel heard about Gota’s travel itinerary, they refused to carry President Gotabaya aboard a SriLankan Airlines aircraft. Such was the angry anti-Gota mood prevailing in the country then Efforts made to make the airline’s pilots and staff relent were unsuccessful.

Furthermore, some passengers scheduled to fly by SriLankan Airlines who were at the BIA heard about Gota’s flight plan and began creating a ruckus.Some said they won’t fly in the same plane with him while others threatened to assault and cause bodily harm to Gota and his golayas.

Gotabaya loyalists who were making travel plans then tried to book him on an Etihad Airways flight EY 267 scheduled to depart from BIA at 9.20 p.m. Meanwhile, the Sri Lankan Immigration and Emigration Officers Association officials at the BIA decided not to service anyone departing from SriLanka through the VIP lounge.This sudden decision was aimed at Gota. When Rajapaksa heard about it, he refused to travel through BIA as he feared danger from Sri Lankan passengers or staff at BIA.

Gota now wanted to fly out of Sri Lanka in a secure Air Force plane from the SLAF base in Katunayake. An attempt was made to get India to allow an SLAF plane to fly the Rajapaksas to the Indian Air Force base in Tambaram, Tamil Nadu. Thereafter, Gota hoped to go to Meenambakkam Airport and fly to Singapore. But Indian officials fearing perhaps a hostile reaction in Tamil Nadu ruled it out.


Thereafter, Gotabaya turned towards the Maldives. He now wanted to go there. The then Maldivian President Ibrahim Mohamed Sohli was away in Mecca as a Haj pilgrim but former President and the then Speaker of the Majlis, Mohamed Nasheed was in Male. Nasheed, a long-time friend and ally of Sri Lanka was helpful but there were snags. The Maldivian establishment was reluctant to accommodate Gota.

Finally, the Maldives agreed to let Gota come in as a transit passenger. After arriving in the Maldives, he had to fly off to Singapore. Gotabaya and Ayoma left aboard an Antonov AN-32 turboprop twin-engined military transport aircraft of the SLAF. Again, there was a hitch. The Air traffic controllers at the Velani Airport refused permission for the AN-32 to land. Mohammed Nasheed’s intervention was sought and obtained. The AN-32 landed in the Maldives at 2.45 a.m. on July 13, 2022.

The Maldivian authorities provided maximum protection to the Rajapaksa couple. They were accommodated at a tourist resort on Girifushi Island. A military training academy was in the vicinity. This facilitated the further enhancement of security for Gota.

However it was politely indicated to Gota that the Maldivian Govt expected him to leave the country as early as possible. There were flights to Singapore from Sri Lanka via the Maldives.

Gota was adamant that he would not board any plane from Colombo en route to Singapore. He was fearful of meeting Sri Lankans. Initially, Gota tried to arrange a flight on a private plane to Singapore. But, this failed.


The Rajapaksas departed from Male at 11.30 a.m. on July 14, 2022. They boarded the Saudia (Saudi Arabian Airlines) flight 788 going to Singapore.

When the Rajapaksas arrived at the Changi International Airport in Singapore, there were many media personnel waiting to ‘greet’ them. The couple however was whisked away by Singaporean Police. There were some protests too.

President Rajapaksa was met in Singapore by the then Sri Lankan envoy Sashikala Premawardhane. Gota had earlier stated in Colombo that he would resign from office after he went abroad.

Resignation Letter

True to his word, the President signed his letter of resignation in the presence of High Commissioner Sashikala Premawardhane. She e-mailed it immediately to Speaker Mahinda Yapa Abeywardene in Colombo.

However, some doubts regarding the authenticity of the e-mailed resignation letter were raised in Colombo. Therefore, High Commissioner Premawardhane despatched the original letter through a High Commission staffer, who personally delivered it to the Speaker in Sri Lanka.

The letter was read out to Parliament by the Parliament Secretary-General. Thereafter the Speaker officially announced the resignation of President Rajapaksa at a news conference on July 15, 2022.

Go Down In History

Thus ended Gota;s presidency.He had earlier insisted that he would not quit halfway as a failed President. Fate however decreed that Gotabaya Rajapaksa would go down in history, as the first Sri Lankan President to have fled from the country, fearing to face his own people and to have resigned before the expiry of his term of office.

D.B.S.Jeyaraj can be reached at

This article appears under a different heading in the “Political Pulse”Column of the “Daily FT”dated 13 March 2024.It can be accessed here –