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What about Gandhis, asks Rajapaksa

[Hindu, Friday, 19 March 2010 08:50 No Comment]

Sri Lankan President Mahinda Rajapaksa has said there is no truth in the perception that he is building a family dynasty and referred to the Kennedys, Bushes and the Gandhis in politics as an example.

In an interview to the Singapore-based Strait Times, Mr. Rajapaksa in response to a question on the oft-heard complaint that there are too many Rajapaksas in his regime has said, “But for that matter how many Kennedys were there in administration. Or Bushes. Or the Gandhis. I have only two brothers in administration.”

He said the Rajapaksas had a 76-year history of electoral politics and the family was not involved in any other business.

“Our business is elections, both winning and losing… although you will hear we own appam shops and thosai shops. I must admit I am the only one who didn’t sell my property to contest elections. My father did it. Every election he would sell his land.”

Asked about “federalist principle as a solution” to the ethnic conflict, Mr. Rajapaksa has said federalism is a dirty word in Sri Lanka and it is linked so much with separation.

Maintaining that he has learnt from India and would not repeat the mistake, Mr. Rajapaksa has said, “This is not an India, a huge country. You cannot forget the history of Sri Lanka.

“As for police powers, knowing my people, I would say, please do not devolve that power. See what happened when Sonia Gandhi went to Uttar Pradesh [and Chief Minister Mayawati, who is opposed to the Congress party, denied her permission to enter her constituency]. They are fighting for control of the police. You know, Chief Ministers are Chief Ministers”.

“I have learnt from India. You think I would make the same mistake? See what happened in Mumbai. It took eight hours to fly in the National Security Guard commandos because they needed the requisite permissions”.

To a question on the LTTE, Mr. Rajapaksa has said there are sleeping cadres and there are interested parties, especially outside Sri Lanka.

“It has been just nine months since the war ended… Just because the leaders were eliminated, it is not over. The movement will take some more time.

There are sleeping cadres, trained suicide bombers. They were a factory of suicide bombers”.

Asked how he would like to be remembered, Mr. Rajapaksa has said, “As a man who loved his country and his people, and did my best to serve them.”

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