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President woos diaspora, Sajith faces setback

[Lakbima News, Sunday, 27 February 2011 09:42 No Comment]

The president uses KP to talk to the Tamil diaspora — and he hopes to talk to the Tamil parties of all persuasions, he says, in three stages — about development and reconstruction, about law, and about constitutional reform.

However he says nothing ‘that Prabhakaran asked for would ever be granted.’ That’s his take on the Tamil issues.

The JVP in the meanwhile alleges that the president is creating unbelievable polarization in the North where the voters would be discouraged from voting, and would be unable to cast ballots. (Please see our separate story.)

Tamil Nadu

All this is interesting at a time when the Tamil Nadu pro Sri Lanka lobby is on overdrive due to elections in the Indian state. Most of the boats in which India fishermen were detained in Sri Lanka waters are reportedly those of a firebrand Tamil Nadu politician, which indicates that in Tamil Nadu they are goading on the fishermen to go get caught to the Sri Lankans — so that the issue could be whipped up as election rhetoric.

The president speaking to editors of national media last week stated that the old working group arrangement between the two countries would be resurrected to address the issue.

In the meanwhile it is the local elections that are engaging the energies of both government and opposition. In UNP circles apparently there is a great demand for Sajith Premadasa with people saying he’s the greatest draw-card at UNP campaign meetings. But Premadasa suffered one of his greatest setbacks this week. (Please see box story here.)

BIG MAN IN UNP NOW GONE

4-2 Bodhi Ranasinghe is dead. The stout rotund former Queen’s scout old Thomian, was a dyed in the wool UNPer whose father-in-law Sunil Rodrigo was a former Chairman of Lake House during the Premadasa UNP.

Bodhi had a dream — which was to see the UNP coming to power under the leadership of Sajith Premadasa. He started this year with a massive New Year welcoming party for media and well-wishers at the Bodhi Ranasinghe Foundation in Polhengoda.

This meeting at Bodhi’s house was essentially the launch of the year’s goodwill campaign for Sajith Premadasa, the heir apparent of the UNP leadership.

Now, it is only hoped by most UNPers that Bodhi’s dream will not die with him. The working committee member and administrative secretary of the UNP, Bodhi was a  Ranil Wickremesinghe loyalist until he realized that the only way forward for the UNP was to install Premadasa at the helm.

Bodhi took on the task to organize for Premadasa almost single-handedly, and it was at his house basically, that the plans for the UNP’s recent reforms were formulated from among those of the Premadasa group in the UNP.

None was more happier than Bodhi when politburo members and UNP heavyweights began coming Sajith’s way in their numbers, and in fact it is now well known that the last call that Bodhi made to Sajith Premadasa, the evening before he died of a sudden illness, was to say ‘Six in the UNP working committee are throwing in their lot with you.’

Bodhi, from an urbane family, well-schooled, was the kind of politician that one would not find easily these days in the hardscrabble game of cut-throat politics. He played the game clean, and was the old-fashioned type of behind scenes man who was the kind of party loyalist that Japanese salarymen working for their companies — well known for lifetime loyalty – would look up to.

Bodhi was also a soft-spoken ideas man and mover who eschewed the limelight but worked tirelessly for the political cause he believed in.

[Full Coverage]

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