Lanka Polity) In 2005, when Mahinda Rajapakse was contesting the presidential for the first time, he was portrayed by his propaganda managers as a macho personality who can run up the ladders of a stage waving like a hero of a Kollywood film. His appearance was vis-a-vis United National Party (UNP) candidate Ranil Wickramasinghe who did not exhibit the macho outlook that is expected by most of the voters of Sri Lanka from a President.
People overlooked Wickramasinghe’s caliber as a seasoned neo liberal politician to the shallow patriotism of Rajapakse. One reason behind his victory was the macho personality.
In any case, as the President, Rajapakse flanked by his two younger brothers, was as hard as a rock before the Tamil nationalist rebellion. He led the war against the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Ealam (LTTE) and defeated the Tigers ultimately.
Just six months after the war victory he is currently facing a tooth and nail battle in the early presidential against his ex-Army chief retired General Sarath Fonseka who is the opposition common candidate.
Fonseka is considered a dominating character with all macho qualities among the Army ranks and now the pro-government media further decorate these characteristics with allegations regarding a charge against young lieutenant Sarath Fonseka over seducing a female domestic aide of an Army officer in early 70s.
Sri Lankan average voter who is not a sensible person in any sense usually respect these macho characteristics. For instance, famous actor Kamal Addaraarachchi was once charged with seducing a minor girl with whom he admitted had sex with consent but against law. In this case, there were more people that sympathized Addaraarachchi than the minor girl who was victimized by an elder.
Since the opponent Sarath Fonseka has more macho characteristics, the President Mahinda Rajapakse’s campaign managers now try to create an image of a motherly person that can cuddle the infants for Rajapakse.
It is a strategy that can fail in Sri Lanka where the polity loves the dictators, domineering rulers, swindles, rogues and the persons of that sort. In recent elections, Sri Lankans have elected all sorts of bad characters like mass murderers, thugs, thieves etc.
Our advise to the President and his campaigners is not to suspend marketing the conventional trademarks of the President, the moustache, the manly appearance and other such things not completely relevant to ruling the country.
Ruling and politics are different genres after all at least in this island.