Home / TOP STORY/ MR pledges comeback

MR pledges comeback

Comments / {{hitsCtrl.values.hits}} Views / Thursday, 6 September 2018 00:47

Former President Mahinda Rajapaksa at the rally yesterday - Pix by Lasantha Kumara and Reuters 


By Chathuri Dissanayake 

Nearly 3,000 loyalists of former President Mahinda Rajapaksa yesterday occupied the Lake House Roundabout in Fort and held a ‘sathyagraha’ after the ‘Janabalaya Colombata’ protest march organised by the Joint Opposition (JO) was wrapped up. 

The Government members discredited the campaign as unsuccessful as it had failed to garner support from the wider public. 

Addressing his supporters amidst loud cheering, Rajapaksa spoke of toppling the Government to bring an end to what he termed as the Government’s “separatism policies”. He also criticised the “sale of national assets” and pledged to form a new government in the future. Surrounded by loyalist parliamentarians, Rajapaksa called on the crowd to stand up against the Government, which he claimed to be “dictatorial” in its actions. 

“Join us to topple this Government before long,” said a visibly tired but upbeat Rajapaksa as the crowd cheered, drowning out his voice. 

“I have a huge responsibility. Democracy is slowly fading away and dictatorship is rising as elections are being postponed. We are not able to speak up in Parliament. There is no one to do the work of the Opposition, so we have come to the streets,” he added. 

Taking credit for bringing democratic governance to the North and the East by holding provincial elections for the first time after 30 years, the former President claimed current President Maithripala Sirisena and Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe were able to visit these regions due to his efforts to end the war and establish civil governance.  

Kicking off a ‘sathyagraha’ campaign, the Buddhist monks led the crowd through a candlelit vigil. They called on the crowd to “defend the country against the dictatorship, separatism and vengeful governance” of the Government before inviting the de-facto leader of Pohottuwa, Rajapaksa, to address the crowd. 

A lengthy chant was read out by a monk and repeated by the crowd, detailing the need to bring a “national election under the leadership of Dear Leader Mahinda Rajapaksa”, which was followed by chanting of pirith.

The processions started off from four different locations in the city, finally meeting at the Lake House Roundabout. Earlier, the JO claimed that the Colombo Municipal Council (CMC) did not allow the group to reserve any public venues for the rally. The claim was later denied by both Mayor Rosie Senanayake and CMC Commissioner V. K. Anura. 

Life in Colombo was quieter than usual as many people stayed away from the capital in anticipation of the rally. Police beefed up security deploying 5,000 personnel and stationing Special Task Force teams around the city. 

Rajapaksa’s brother, former Defence Secretary Gotabhaya Rajapaksa, and strong loyalists Wimal Weerawansa, Bandula Gunawardena, Mahindananda Aluthgamage, Nimal Lanza, and Keheliya Rambukwella were present at the sathyagraha. Namal Rajapaksa, son of former President Rajapaksa, was absent from the sathyagraha, although he was seen leading the crowd as they marched to the final destination.  

As the sathyagraha got underway, the Government hastily called a press conference with the participation of State Ministers Ajith P. Perera and Ruwan Wijewardene, Deputy Ministers Nalin Bandara, J. C. Alawathuwada, and MP Ashoka Priyantha at the Government Information Department. Calling the ‘Janabalaya Colombata’ campaign a flop, State Minister Ajith Perera pointed out that crowd numbers fell far below expectations. 

“We expected hundreds of thousands of people, but there weren’t many. They claimed they would surround the Financial Crimes Investigation Division and Special High Courts, and that’s why we sought court orders, but in the end, nothing happened,” he claimed. 

“They expected to bring many people and topple the Government and create a huge change, but the crowd today was even less than the crowd coming into Colombo on May Day.” 

Claiming that there was no proper purpose or reason for the Janabalaya rally, Perera said different JO MPs had different reasons for the rally. 

“Some said it was to topple the Government, others said they were there to attack the three-member Special Courts, and some others said it was against the increasing cost of living,” Perera claimed. 



Share This Article


1. All comments will be moderated by the Daily FT Web Editor.

2. Comments that are abusive, obscene, incendiary, defamatory or irrelevant will not be published.

3. We may remove hyperlinks within comments.

4. Kindly use a genuine email ID and provide your name.

5. Spamming the comments section under different user names may result in being blacklisted.


Today's Columnists

In the desert of Tamil films, actor Sivaji Ganesan was an oasis

Saturday, 22 September 2018

‘Indian Film,’ first published in 1963 and co-authored by former Columbia University Professor Erik Barnouw and his student Dr. Subrahmanyam Krishnaswamy, is considered a seminal study of the evolution and growth of Indian cinema. The book is cit

Imran may turn blind eye to blasphemy law and persecution of Ahmadiyyas

Saturday, 22 September 2018

There are clear signs that Pakistan’s freshly minted Prime Minister, Imran Khan, will make a sincere effort to reduce corruption and maladministration in the domestic sphere. In foreign affairs he is likely to make a brave attempt to mend fences wi

The rate of exchange, capital flight and the Central Bank

Friday, 21 September 2018

The Central Bank (CBSL) exists for the sole purpose of price stability. Its controls on the financial system and monetary policy exist to maintain price stability. As put forth many times by the Governor, the failing of the CBSL to control inflation

Red flag over the Sri Lankan Navy

Friday, 21 September 2018

Shocking story Rusiripala, a former banker in Sri Lanka, who has taken to writing in Daily FT, is perturbed by the red flag I have raised (Daily FT article 18 September) over the shocking charge that our Navy had operated a ransom gang that had abduc

Columnists More