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Dramatic upheaval, eternal lessons

May 14, 2022

What appears like a stable ground suddenly starts shaking up – Sri Lanka!

History bears witness that there are times when a political dispensation seems to be stable and enduring, the situation changes; either gradually or swiftly, and dramatically, against it. The latest manifestation of such a metamorphosis happening in South Asia is in Sri Lanka. Earlier, in Pakistan, no political observer could have anticipated till fairly recently that the Imran Khan government would be ousted by all the opposition parties coming together and with that the coalition that Khan led would itself splinter.

The Rajapaksa family has dominated Sri Lanka’s public life for the better part of almost two decades. When this writer had an occasion to visit the beautiful island country nine years ago the Rajapaksa brothers had its political life entirely in their grip. Mahinda was President, his brother Basil the Minister of Economy while a third brother Gotabaya, who is now President, was the Defence Secretary. In that capacity he oversaw all parts of Sri Lanka’s security apparatus. Finally, the eldest brother Chamal was Speaker of Parliament. The next generation of the family had been inducted into political offices too. At that stage it had seemed that while support for the Rajapaksa family may rise or ebb their place and popularity among the majority Sinhala population would be largely secure because they were credited with annihilating the Tamil Tigers in the vicious civil war which had engulfed Sri Lanka for more than two decades.

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