12/17/2009

Why do Sri Lankan presidential candidates go back to history to launch their campaigns?

(December 17, Colombo - Lanka Polity) Today the nominations are closed for the January 25 presidential of Sri Lanka. Both the government and the major opposition will have their inaugural rallies tomorrow.

President Mahinda Rajapakse's first propaganda rally is held in Anuradhapura while major opposition candidate Sarath Fonseka will climb the hill to address his inaugural rally held in Kandy.

The two venues chosen by these two candidates to launch their campaigns officially has connotations linked to the past.

Anuradhapura is an ancient capital of a kingdom that ended at the beginning of the second millennium around 1000 AD. Later the colonial archaeologists and the historians unearthed the glorious city in late 19th century until what times it was covered by thick jungle.However, as Sinhala nationalism was formed in the modern times with its primary focus to the Sinhala dominance in the post-colonial state, Anuradhapura was chosen as the ideal capital of the Sinhala polity.

Kandy is the capital of the last Sinhala kingdom that fell to the English colonials in 1815 basically due to internal mutiny.

Both cities are equally significant for the Buddhists. Buddhism is the majority religion of the island. Sri Maha Bodhiya, a tree believed to hail from the ancient tree that provided shade to Lord Buddha to attain enlightenment is in Anuradhapura.

The sacred tooth relic of Lord Buddha, a symbol of kingship is in Kandy.

Another significance is that the Tamil nationalist rebels have attacked both these cities and killed people.

What do you think about the historical ramifications of selection of these two cities by the two major candidates for the launch of their campaigns instead of Colombo, the natural nerve center of politics.

1 comments:

  1. These places are also venues where Tamils held sway. King Elara ruled Sri-Lanka for nearly 60 years at Anuradhapura. King Wickremarajasinghe (Kandasamy) ruled Kandy during the time British captured it. Probably these two extremist presidential contestant want to show that Tamils are indispensable in Sinhala politics. Karuna and Douglas now Kadirgamar, Kumarasooriar and GG ponnambalam and Suntharalingam of recent past and Ramanathan and Arunasalam during the State Council days stood as props to Sinhala governments. Though they are tritors to the Tamils they helped the Sinhalese to attain political maturity. Probably they are paying tribute to these Tamils as well.

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