Daily Archives: August 15, 2015
COLOMBO: Sri Lanka’s beleaguered former leader Mahinda Rajapaksa will try to pull off a shock political comeback in elections Monday that he hopes will propel him to the premiership, months after being toppled as president.
His successor as president, Maithripala Sirisena, has vowed to thwart his one-time mentor’s ambitions while many of Rajapaksa’s closest relatives are facing corruption allegations, including his wife. But the charismatic former strongman has been drawingmassive crowds on the election trail across the island, looking to build unstoppable momentum in his quest for an unlikely return to power.
“I would have retired if they were doing a good job,” the 69-year-old said in one of his last addresses before Monday’s elections to the 225-seat national parliament. “I was forced to return to politics because the governmen is messing things up.”
Rajapaksa governed Sri Lanka for nearly a decade and was South Asia’s longest-serving ruler before his surprise defeat to Sirisena in a January 8 presidential election. Sirisena had been the secretary general of Rajapaksa’s United People’s Freedom Alliance (UPFA) as well as being health minister before he split to run for the presidency.
Rajapaksa is hugely popular among big sections of the ethnic majority Sinhalese community for presiding over the crushing defeat of Tamil guerrillas in 2009 after their 37-year campaign for a separate homeland.
But he is also reviled by many Tamils who voted en masse for Sirisena in January after boycotting previous elections. Observers say Rajapaksa’s polarising personality will undermine his chances of forming a coalition, especially as any potential prime minister would likely need the backing of minority groups.
Although there are no reliable opinion polls, no single party is expected to win a majority. Charu Lata Hogg of the London-based Chatham House think-tank said Rajapaksa’s entry into the fray has “definitely complicated the complex political scene” but said he would struggle to find allies.
“He is anathema to Tamils and Muslims as he is the personification of state terror,” Hogg told
(Pictures Mahinda Rajapaksa media Unit)
India Test skipper Virat Kohli has blamed the talented batting line-up for team’s humiliating 63-run defeat to hosts Sri Lanka on the first Test on Saturday.
Sri Lanka’s left-arm spinner Rangana Herath claimed seven wickets to bowl out India, chasing 176 in the second innings, for 112, to give Sri Lanka the victory at the Galle International Cricket Stadium.
Sri Lanka took a 1-0 lead in the three-match series. The second Test begins on August 20 in Colombo.
“We got no one to blame, but ourselves. Credit to Angelo Mathews and his team for playing good cricket today. We failed to capitalise after taking the first five wickets (in the second innings) and Sri Lanka dominated from there. One bad session and things can turn around quickly, that is Test cricket,” Kohli said at the post match presentation ceremony here on Saturday.
The skipper heaped praise on Herath for his match-clinching performance.
“Credit to Rangana (Herath) for the way he bowled, he’s a world-class bowler, bowled attacking lines and put our batsmen under pressure. The pitch behaved strangely. Angelo chose to bat, I would have done the same, but the ball started spinning on the first day, Ashwin came into the game,” he said.
Sri Lanka batsman Dinesh Chandimal scored an unbeaten 162 to help the hosts avoid an innings defeat, after conceding a 192-run first inings lead, and take their second innings score to 367.
“But it played really nicely in the second innings. We thought the wicket would be more difficult to bat, but credit to the way Dinesh and the rest batted. They really kept Sri Lanka in the hunt,” the 26-year-old said.