Defence Secy. who led the battle then, now leads the nation | Sunday Observer
Eleventh Victory Day reaches a milestone:

Defence Secy. who led the battle then, now leads the nation

We are finally liberated from the jaws of LTTE terror. ..........  Liberated civilians return to the arms of the Security Forces.
We are finally liberated from the jaws of LTTE terror. .......... Liberated civilians return to the arms of the Security Forces.

The 11th Victory Day falls tomorrow, though the country will not be in a position to celebrate due to the Covid-19 epidemic. Remembrance Day, as Victory Day is also called, is known as the Rana Wiru commemoration day in Sri Lanka.

It marks the capitulation of the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam and the victorious end to Sri Lanka’s battle against terrorism on May 18, 2009.

This year’s Victory Day comes as a significant milestone when the then Defence Secretary Gotabaya Rajapaksa, who gave relentless leadership to Sri Lanka’s battle against terror, has now taken over the destinies of the nation as President of the country.

Exactly eleven years ago on May 18, 2009, the Security Forces brought the moment of glory the entire nation had been yearning for three decades, crushing the world’s most ruthless terrorist outfit - the LTTE.

Hardly anybody thought that Sri Lanka could ever get rid of the scourge of LTTE terror which had devastated the country since the 1980s. Making full use of the peace talk periods during successive UNP Governments, the LTTE had strengthened itself.

Many believed that crushing LTTE terrorism was only a daydream as the Tigers were at their peak when President Mahinda Rajapaksa first assumed office in November, 2005.

But the supreme sacrifices of the Security Forces and the political sagacity of former President Rajapaksa paved the way for a new era in Sri Lanka’s history.

Thanks to the untiring efforts of President Gotabaya Rajapaksa, then Defence Secretary, and the unmatched political leadership of then President Mahinda Rajapaksa which inspired the Security Forces, Sri Lanka was able to crush the LTTE terror finally.

There may be many people to grab credit for the victory but the undisputed fact in the country’s military victory was the political leadership that had inspired the Forces.

Over the years since the LTTE had launched its military operations against the Security Forces, there had been enough and more brave soldiers who had sincerely devoted their precious lives to save the country.

There had been several military leaders who had the ability and strategy to tame the Tiger terrorists. The most notable of them was General Denzil Kobbekaduwa. His troops would have easily crushed the LTTE if he had any backing from the then political leadership.

All previous leaders of Sri Lanka had always succumbed to international pressure, each time there had been a military offensive against the LTTE.

There had been a couple of instances the Security Forces would have either killed or captured LTTE leader Velupillai Prabhakaran alive.

But when the Security Forces were about to do that, they were ordered to abandon those operations by the then Presidents who succumbed to international pressure, like ice melting under the hot sun.

The then President Mahinda Rajapaksa had the courage and determination to give that much needed political leadership to the true sons of our soil.

He gave a better meaning and recognition to the Security Forces to make an all out offensive against the LTTE terrorists.

The Opposition political leaders who now project themselves as heroes and saviours of the nation had been asleep when the country was threatened by the Tiger terrorists with its economy in a near collapse.

Those who now shout from rooftops against the Executive Presidency have forgotten that the country was able to crush the LTTE terror due to the executive powers enjoyed by the President.

Had the Head of State been forced to get the approval of the legislature for each and every decision that had to be taken promptly, Sri Lanka would never have ended Prabhakaran’s thirst for blood.

It is deplorable that many political leaders, extremist people and even a prominent monk got-together and brought the so-called common candidate at the 2015 Presidential election.

That pushed Sri Lanka back for five years in all spheres before President Gotabaya Rajapaksa assumed office on November 18, 2019 to put an end to one of the ugliest eras in Sri Lanka’s political history.

The 2015-2019 Yahapalanaya regime, which came to power with loads of broken promises, brought nothing but agony to the masses. Above all, it put some of the valiant soldiers behind bars for the ‘fault’ of liberating the nation.

While the brave soldiers were always at the receiving end by the UNP-SLFP Yahapalanaya government, it also planned to pay compensation to the immediate family members of the LTTE cadres who had been killed in action.

If there’s a government in the world which had planned to pay compensation to families of terrorists who had been killed battling its own legitimate army, it is probably Sri Lanka’s 2015-2019 Government.

The UNP-SLFP government, supported by the JVP and the TNA, also attempted to bring human rights violations cases against its own Security Forces.

But thanks to the supreme sacrifices made by the true sons of our soil, the county has got one of their own men of yesteryear in the saddle.

That too was possible after a relentless battle as every possible measure under the sun was used to stop President Gotabaya Rajapaksa from coming forward and winning last year’s Presidential election. But the vociferous campaign of the people brought a convincing victory at the end.

The UNP is now functioning like a ship without a captain, not knowing in which direction it should head. In the absence of their leader Ranil Wickremesinghe, a few overambitious UNP seniors are daydreaming of grabbing the party leadership with Sajith Premadasa being the most notable.

However, Wickremesinghe will neither permit anyone to oust him during his lifetime nor allow anyone else to contest the next General Election as the Prime Ministerial candidate.

But the UNP membership will never tolerate breakaway groups as they rejected the Dissanayake-Athulathmudali group. Wickremesinghe himself is unsure whether he could survive pressure and get support to contest the next Presidential election on the UNP ticket in five years’ time.

Sajith Premadasa is a person who has no patience to wait until his turn and has always looked at shortcuts to oust Wickremesinghe. But the majority of the Colombo based UNP supporters would still opt for Wickremesinghe, despite his dismal record of election defeats.

Neither the JVP nor the other small parties under their belt would support anybody outside their parties. Having failed to win the 2010 Presidential election even with the support of the UNP and the JVP, Sarath Fonseka would no doubt try his luck in the UNP in the future.

Anura Kumara Dissanayake has become the most disgraceful leader that JVP ever had, deviating from original party policies and strategically supporting capitalist UNP. Still, he would always like to contest and show his strength - that he is a more accepted leader than his predecessors the late Rohana Wijeweera and Somawansa Amarasinghe. Actually his policies are nowhere near that of Wijeweera.

A few political parties in the South, including the JVP and the UNP, have already held discussions with the former Tiger proxy party - the TNA, to come to an understanding before the next Presidential election.

Though the UNP has been notorious for such power-greedy deals in the past, this is the first time that the JVP is seeking the support of a party which had been remote-controlled by Prabhakaran in the past. In contrast, the TNA would prefer to retain its own identity by fielding its own candidates at future elections.

There is no other political leader, either in the Government or in the Opposition who can come anywhere near the popularity of President Gotabaya Rajapaksa. But he needs a strong legislature to support him on policy matters. That is precisely why the Sri Lanka Podujana Party (SLPP) is seeking a clear mandate at the forthcoming general elections.

None could dispute the fact that it was the Rajapaksas who changed the destiny of the nation. If not for the fearless leadership of Presidents Gotabaya and Mahinda Rajapaksa, Sri Lanka would have been divided by now into two countries.

Hence, it is the supreme duty of all Sri Lankans to show their gratitude to that great leader who had put an end to the merciless killings of the LTTE terrorists. He richly deserves a strong Parliament to build the nation.

On the other hand, President Gotabaya Rajapaksa has already proved his credentials in the short period of time, especially, the manner in which he handled and protected nation. His acts in the recent Covid-19 epidemic are ample testimony that he is the right choice the masses could depend on to overcome any threat.