AsiaNews | Tuesday October 2, 2018 | Colombo | by Claude Gunasekera | It is one of the most curious questions on the minds of Sri Lankans as to who will be the next president of Sri Lanka in 2020. Sri Lankan Politics is very unpredictable. Most of the politicians and political parties keep their secrets until the close of election. Given the unpredictable context of Sri Lankan politics it is impossible to make an exact prediction at least of who will contest the upcoming presidential election let alone who will win. Nevertheless there are several possible names heard around the arena.

The latest name appears in the scene is Shiranthi Rajapaksa the wife of former President Mahinda Rajapaksa among the names such as former Defense Secretary Gotabhaya Rajapaksa, former Economic Development Minister Basil Rajapaksa (Sri Lanka Podujana Peramuna-SLPP ), both who are brothers of Mahinda Rajapaksa, Deputy Leader of United National Party front liner Sajith Premadasa the son of former President Ranasinghe Premadasa, present Prime Minister and leader of the United National Party Ranil Wickremasinghe and the current President Maithripala Sirisena (Sri Lanka Freedom Party-SLFP).

AsiaNews’ learns that a doubt has aroused in the Rajapaksa family that if Gotabhaya or Basil takes over the power, there could be some conflicts when Mahinda Rajapaksa interfering the ruling. It is reported even during Mahinda Rajapaksa was in office as Executive President there had been certain uncontrollable issues with Gotabhaya. Mahinda Rajapaksa had been the King of Sri Lanka during his regime, thus it is believed that he needs to continue the same status in the future. Meanwhile, he is also finding out ways and means for his eligibility to re-contest for the presidential elections and finally to achieve his goal to make his son Namal Rajapaksa as the president of Sri Lanka in his right age.

The real fact behind the Rajapaksa contestants are that no matter who comes forward, but people would vote for the name sake of Mahinda Rajapaksa and not for the individual candidate. Majority of their voters depends only on Mahinda Rajapaksa. Therefore, it is very possible that Shiranthi could be nominated as she could be the one who is most reliable to Mahinda Rajapaksa. Only then Mahinda could comfortably use the presidential powers, as Sri Lankan wives mostly give first place to their husbands. It is openly known by the people that Mahinda Rajapaksa is a brave character who could do it without difficulty. This will also pave an easy path for Namal Rajapaksa towards his presidential vision.

Shiranthi Rajapaksa was the first lady of Sri Lanka for 10 years from 2005 to 2015. She is a professional in child psychology and pre-school education a past pupil of Holy Family Convent Colombo.  She was crowned as Miss Sri Lanka in 1973, before marriage. Thereafter she had the distinction of being one of the contestants at the Miss Universe 1973 pageant held in Athens. She also participated in Miss World 1973.

Gotabhaya Rajapaksa has never been a “Politician” in the strict sense, but he was a key player behind Mahinda Rajapaksa’s government and as the Defense Secretary he gave the leadership to end the 30 year long civil war. Moreover he is known as a strict administrator, with his background as a retired Lieutenant Colonel of the Sri Lankan Army.

Sajith Premadasa is of course an experienced politician being a member of the parliament since 2000 having held many senior positions within the United National Party ( U.N.P ). He is well popular among the supporters of his party and is often suggested to replace Ranil Wickramesinghe as the party leader. Self-launched welfare programmes targeting the rural public has won him a strong support base among the rural citizens.

Both Gotabhaya Rajapaksa and Sajith Premadasa hail from well established political backgrounds. Gotabhaya Rajapaksa is most likely follow a ruling with slight autocracy high lightened while Sajith Premadasa would have a government high lightened with welfare programmes.

The present government of Sri Lanka has failed to meet the expectations of its citizens; therefore the people are on the lookout for someone fresh to deliver the promises. U.N.P. and its alliance made some promises in 2015 to eliminate corruption, providing employment, continuing economic growth, etc. Given the progress of the present government and the results of the recently held local government elections, it is of the majority belief that neither Maithripala Sirisena (SLFP) nor Ranil Wickremasinghe (UNP) stands a chance to be the president in 2020.


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