COLOMBO: Radical Sri Lankan Buddhist outfit, Bodu Bala Sena (BBS), is aiming at setting up a “Buddhist-Hindu Peace Zone in South and Southeast Asia” with the help of the Rashtriya Swayamsewak Sangh (RSS), an organisation with which India’s ruling party BJP is closely associated. This was revealed by Ven Gnanasara Thero, general secretary of BBS, at a press meet here on Monday. The BBS is widely believed to have the tacit backing of the Mahinda Rajapaksa government.
Gnanasara Thero, who is a Buddhist monk, said the BBS has been talking to the RSS at the highest level. “We are hopeful of meeting Prime Minister Narendra Modi soon,” he added.
BBS’s chief of research, Dr Chamila Liyanage, said Modi had impressed the outfit because he had said India is a “Hindu nation” and he is wedded to promoting Hindu culture. “Moreover, Modi, standing for national unity, will not divide any country, including Sri Lanka,” Liyanage said.
Releasing the BBS’s “Policy Framework”, its spokesperson, Dr Dilantha Vithanage, said Sri Lanka should be declared a Sinhala nation and renamed “Sinhale” as in ancient times. The various ethnic and religious groups should carry the prefix “Sinhale”. Sri Lanka should be declared a Sinhala-Buddhist nation with Sinhalese as the official language. The culture of Lanka should be “Sinhala-Buddhist”. The BBS does not believe in “multi-culturalism”, he added, driving the point home.
Asked how this is possible in a multi-ethnic, multi-religious country, Vithanage said every ethnic and religious group will be allowed to practice its culture but with due regard to the primary Sinhala-Buddhist culture. Gnanasara Thero contended that minorities can preserve their identity only under Buddhist suzerainty as Buddhism is inherently liberal and tolerant.
Vithanage said the BBS has no political agenda but it is opposed to devolution of power to provinces, especially ethnicity-based provinces, as envisaged by the India-sponsored 13th Amendment of the Constitution. “We are for maximum devolution but only to the village-level grassroots institutions,” he said. Liyanage said the 13th Amendment was imposed by India’s Congress government, but Modi would not insist on its full implementation.