COLOMBO: Sri Lanka's former Defence Secretary,Gotabaya Rajapaksa, will keep off electoral politics for the time being in order to achieve the immediate and larger objective of bringing back his brother and former President Mahinda Rajapaksa to power through the forthcoming parliamentary elections, sources close to him told Express on Sunday.
Gotabaya had told newspersons at a Buddhist temple in Padduka in Colombo District on Saturday, that he would not enter politics. But sources close to him said that this is only a " strategic move" with a greater goal in mind and that it is not to be taken as "face value."
Explaining this, the source said: " By not being a candidate, Gotabaya will be free to campaign for the Rajapaksa group's candidates all over the island nation. He is the second most popular leader in Lanka and every electorate will need his services as a campaigner."
"Secondly, by not standing for election, Gotabaya will avoid creating divisions and animosities within the Rajapaksa group. He will not be competing with the other candidates of the group for preferential votes. "
"Colombo District, from which he could make a bid, will also have many stalwarts of the Rajapaksa group in the fray. Gotabaya will have to compete with them for preferential votes and create bad blood."
In the Lankan electoral system,where parties put before the electorate not an individual candidate but a list of candidates, preferential votes decide who all from a party list will go to parliament.
Entry Through Nomination
Gotabaya will, however, enter parliament through the National List (ie: by nomination) and be a minister in the Rajapaksa government, the source said.
"We would like to groom Gotabaya as Rajapaksa's successor because he is the second most popular leader in the country", the source added.
Gotabaya had himself said in an interview earlier, that he is not sure if he, as a former military man, has the right orientation to be a success in politics. Even those who want him in politics agree that he will need a period of apprenticeship and a stint as a nominated MP, to reorient himself to the slippery world of politics.