rediff.com

NewsApp (Free)

Read news as it happens
Download NewsApp

Available on  

Rediff News  All News 
Rediff.com  » News » Rajapaksa: The man with a Midas touch

Rajapaksa: The man with a Midas touch

Last updated on: January 27, 2010 20:18 IST

Rajapaksa: The man with a Midas touch

     Next

Next
Mahinda Rajapaksa, a populist leader who trounced his former ally-turned-foe Sarath Fonseka in the Sri Lankan presidential elections, is proving to be a man with a Midas touch and has enjoyed good rapport with India in his first four years in office.

Rising from the ranks of lawyers, Rajapaksa has had a shaky start to his political career, narrowly winning the 2005 presidential elections, but now has turned out to be the island nation's saviour.

Vanquishing the three-decade-long scourge of Tamil insurgency, where all his predecessors had failed, 64-year-old Rajapaksa has turned a cobbled hold over power in 2005 into a thumping win in 2010, leading to political analysts labelling him a man with a Midas touch.

Click on NEXT to read further...


Image: Rajapaksa waves to a crowd at his political party's convention in Colombo
Photographs: Stringer/Reuters
     Next

Rajapaksa: The man with a Midas touch

Prev     Next
Prev

Next
Rajapaksa has had a good relationship with the Indian leadership taking them into confidence during the war with Tamil Tigers, apparently wary of the issue raising sentiments in India.

He advanced Sri Lanka's presidential polls by nearly two years to cash in on popular sentiments over his leading the country to a war victory, which his critics said was a gamble.

And, they were not far wrong as his opponent and former army chief Fonseka involved him in a fight for political survival. But nothing could go wrong with the man who had the touch, as he again proved them wrong by romping home handsomely.


Image: Rajapaksa waves during a photo opportunity with high-ranking military officials after unveiling a monument for fallen Sri Lankan soldiers
Photographs: Lakruwan Wanniarachchi/Pool/Reuters
Prev     Next

Rajapaksa: The man with a Midas touch

Prev     Next
Prev

Next

But it has not been smooth sailing for Rajapaksa, a veteran street-fighter politician who entered Parliament when he was just 24.

He has faced opposition fury for what they have called indulging in nepotism, by placing his three brothers and other family members in key government positions.

Instead of being on the defensive, the President has openly defended his family.

Sri Lanka's victory over the Tamil Tigers was guided by two of the president's brothers: Gotabaya, the influential secretary of defence and a naturalised American citizen, and Basil, the so-called special adviser who devised the political strategy around the war effort.

Criticism has not only come from home, but abroad also as at the height of his war against Tamil tigers in May this year, he faced international accusations of abuses and war crimes, though when he started his political journey he was seen as a champion of human rights.


Image: Police take up position behind a metal barrier as students from a group of universities hold a puppet of Rajapaksa over the barrier during a protest in Colombo
Photographs: Stringer/Reuters
Prev     Next

Rajapaksa: The man with a Midas touch

Prev     Next
Prev

Next
He blamed the damage to his international image on Western conspiracy. Though his relations could be described rickety with the US, with UK and Western European nations Rajapaksa has had the best of ties with its northern neighbour, India.

Ever since Manmohan Singh led UPA came to power in India, Rajapaksa has had a cordial relations with New Delhi. He has taken India into confidence before taking any major decisions to deal with Tamil minorities.

In the run up to the current elections, Rajapaksa is understood to have assured India of its serious intention to provide political package to the Tamils and thus bring them into the mainstream of the island nation.


Image: Rajapaksa with Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh
Photographs: Kamal Kishore/Reuters
Prev     Next

Rajapaksa: The man with a Midas touch

Prev     More
Prev

More

As he had acknowledged a number of times, his crowning moment in his over four-decade political career was the victory against Tamil Tigers, who were controlling one-third of the island when Rajapaksa assumed office in 2005.

Rajapaksa handpicked Fonseka as his Army Chief in 2005 to destroy the LTTE and lauded him as the "best army commander in the world" in the afterglow of their victory over Tamil Tiger rebels last year.

But their friendship soon soured over who should take the most credit for vanquishing the LTTE. Rajapaksa sidelined Fonseka and appointed him Chief of Defence Staff. He went on to publicly say his major mistake in his first term was choosing Fonseka as his commander.


Image: File photo shows Rajapaksa shaking hands with Army Commander Lieutenant General Sarath Fonseka
Photographs: Sri Lankan Government/Handout/Reuters
Prev     More
© Copyright 2013 PTI. All rights reserved. Republication or redistribution of PTI content, including by framing or similar means, is expressly prohibited without the prior written consent.