COLOMBO: Former President Mahinda Rajapaksa has said that he was defeated in the January 8 Presidential election by a “conspiracy”.
In his message to a huge rally of his supporters in Nugegoda, a suburb of Colombo on Wednesday, Rajapaksa said that he did not consider what happened to him as a “defeat” since it was nothing but the result of a “conspiracy”.
“What we are experiencing now is the result of a conspiracy, but not a defeat. However, I would never hesitate to accept my defeat and respect the people’s choice. Disgrace and defeat are not unusual elements in my life. Even being in a prison would not be an awkward or unfamiliar thing for me. I’m capable of taking all this pressure for the sake of my supporters,” the former President said in a statement read out by political commentator Dayan Jayatilleka.
Rajapaksa did not elaborate on the conspiracy, nor did he identify the conspirators. But sources close to him say that he blames former President Chandrika Kumaratunga, India and the West, for the last minute defection of his Health Minister and party General Secretary Maithripala Sirisena, and his becoming the Joint Opposition Candidate in the Presidential election.
Though Rajapaksa did not say explicitly that he is going to come back to lead his followers in the June parliamentary elections, there was more than a hint that he wants to stage a comeback when he said: “I am capable of taking all this pressure for the sake of my supporters.” It is clear that he is not taking to political sanyas.
The rally was organized by some small political parties which were allies of his Sri Lanka Freedom Party (SLFP) during his 10-year rule. They are National Freedom Front (NFF) led by Wimal Weerawansa; Mahajana Eksath Peramuna (MEP) led by Dinesh Gunawardene; Pivithuru Jathika Hela Urumaya (PJHU) led by Udaya Gammanpilla and Democratic Left Front (DLF) led by Vasudeva Nanayakkara.
The SLFP did not attend the meeting, but 17 SLFP MPs and an SLFP Chief Minister attended in their individual capacity. No serving minister or any member of the SLFP’s Central Committee was in the rally.
LTTE Revival Bogey
In a hard hitting speech, the PJHU leader Udaya Gammanpilla said that the Sirisena government is hiding the fact that the LTTE is being revived. He charged that the government is ignoring an incident in the Northern town of Vavuniya on February 5 in which an army patrol was fired at by suspected LTTE terrorists.
Rajapaksa is currently residing his southern home town of Medamulana. He keeps an open house. According to Ceylon Today, on an average, 50 busloads of supporters from all over the island nation visit him every day. In the Presidential election he lost to Sirisena by 450,000 votes, a margin he considers narrow and bridgeable in any election in which his outfit is pitted against Sirisena’s.