| by Our Correspondent in Colombo
( January 04, Colombo, Sri Lanka Guardian) Understandably, the Rajapakses will do all they can in their enormous and illegally secured power to bury all evidence of who actually was responsible for the killing of the Sunday Editor Leader – the Unafraid and Unbowed Lasantha Wickramatunga. Already, as the sibling regime has probably calculated well, Lasantha’s murder enquiry is slowly receding from public memory. The vibrant newspaper that he found is already tottering – sales and advertisements down. Now run by a failed businessman and former CID Sub-Inspector – hardly the kind of reputation D.R. Wijewardena brought to the newspaper industry.
|File Photo:- Death of Lasantha|
It is whispered there are a group of non-related individuals gathering data as to how Lasantha came by his premature death. They do not work in concert but apparently share notes now and then. They appear to know when the Defence Secretary filed a Case against Lasantha something big is on – but neither Lasantha nor anyone else could have then guessed the filing of the Case was nothing but a red herring for what was being planned. Sarath Fonseka was one of the few in the good books of the brothers then and was privy, in person, too much of the thinking of those who ran the State apparatus then. While the Sunday Leader was a head-ache to the Brothers, it was not of proportions that can challenge their rule Mahinda Rajapakse is much shrewder than Ranil. While talking peace and unity with the UNP Mahinda was plotting to divide and destroy his main political enemy platform. Karu Jayasuriya fell for the trap with his own delusions of being made PM – that was never to be. Even with Karu and the 17 defectors gone, the UNP continued to be a force to be reckoned with.
It was around this time that Lasantha and CBK made up. It began casually and did not bother the Rajapakses very much. Around this time CBK paid special attention to Lasantha when he visited Horagolla for the September 26 SWRD Memorial in 2008. He was one of the few invited to stay back for Lunch with CBK. Before that the Rajapakses learnt of several meetings of Lasantha and CBK in Colombo. It is well known Lasantha did not confine himself to journalism alone, He was much more than that. Many senior Ministers feared him and made sure they are in his good books. The Sunday Leader political column was read with much interest by many readers – within and outside the Government. Even leading business persons felt threatened by Lasantha. Harry Jayawardena, Otara Gunawardena (Odel) were mercilessly slammed by the Sunday Leader that surprisingly went silent after a few “exposes” There was even wide talk that Ranil, at one stage, offered to make Lasantha a Cabinet Minister – Foreign Ministry being mentioned. But Ranil was thrown out in 2004 through CBK’s machinations.
In the post-Rajapakse period there was no real threat to the government. However, Mangala Samaraweera – a CBK favourite – had a reputation of being a good organizer in the mould of the late Gamini Disssanayake. By 2008 the Rajapakses were becoming unpopular – un-kept salary promises, restive youth demanding jobs, unemployed Graduates who worked for Mahinda in the elections demanding jobs, the LTTE continuing to be a headache, India not particularly warm to the Rajapakses in the suspicion he would give the Chinese and the Pakistanis greater influence were all accumulated headaches. Despite her having been President twice CBK there was a chance she could be an active and influential player against any moves to oust Mahinda Rajapakse – no favourite of CBK. The Bandaranaike name still had much influence countrywide. The Ratwatte name still carried punch in the Central Highlands where the Kandyan nobility had reason to fear a Pahatha-Rata centric Rajapakse may not give Kandyans their dues in the running of the government. Mangala Samaraweera has built himself up sufficiently by developing Matara town and the area – using his proximity to CBK to advantage. Insiders within the Rajapakse camp feared a Joining of forces of Ranil, the UNP, CBK and Mangala can spell trouble for them. This formed the central basis of talks when the Rajapakse insiders got together for “chats” Mahinda eventually showed indications that he fears the coming into being of this potentially dangerous coalition. The mood was understood by the man who controlled that feared “Unit-eka” within the Military.
Was Lasantha eliminated in January 2009 in fear of this impending peril to the regime?