Politicians in this country, including their leaders, don`t seem to grow up with their age. It is not rarely that they make spectacles of themselves. Their infantilism is too well known here to be taken seriously. But, Sri Lanka as a nation is embarrassed when those worthies go on foreign junkets and demonstrate that to the entire world.
It is reported that the Sri Lankan mission in Chennai has received a stern rebuke from New Delhi for not following protocol as regards VIP security. Sri Lankan politicians, it is said, land in India without making prior security arrangements. The Indian government has taken umbrage over the fact that the Chennai Mission deals with the State police direct to obtain security for the visiting VIPs without following proper process and procedure. It is a pity that those politicians have become a nuisance to India as well!
Why should Sri Lankan politicians visit India so often? It is common knowledge that they make mandatory pilgrimages to religious places in that country to perform special poojas. The Opposition politicians prostrate themselves before Indian gods to invoke blessings on their efforts to capture power and the government supplicants do so in a bid to keep the Opposition at bay. Those heavenly beings must be really confused as to whom to help! (Doesn`t that amount to seeking Indian interference in Sri Lanka`s internal affairs?)
One is intrigued. Sri Lanka is said to be home to 330 million (thisthun kotiyak) deities. Places of worship are found at every nook and corner and even behind every bush, as cynics say. They continue to mushroom and some of them are registered as companies! Vehicles in this country have been turned into mobile shrines. Even killer private buses and trucks transporting cattle for slaughter have religious symbols prominently displayed on them!
This country is also known for various yakas (devils) whose services are often solicited for destructive purposes. Politicians are so credulous that some exorcists are leading them by the nose by promising to destroy their enemies through black magic. We also have a large number of astrologers making a lucrative business of credulousness of others, especially politicians`. So, why should political leaders go all the way to India on the sly much to the annoyance of the Indian government to have their wishes granted when they have easy access to a plethora of occult powers through various agencies in this country?
India deserves praise for that thundering diplomatic slap at issue and we only hope that the Sri Lankan diplomats and their political bosses will get the message.
Government leaders have grave security threats, especially at a time the LTTE is badly cornered in the Wanni desperately looking for an escape route. It is obviously planning a high profile political assassination to destabilise the government and unsettle the country. It is not only the breach of diplomatic protocol and the alleged high-handedness of the Sri Lankan mission that have irked India. The protection of Sri Lankan leaders is India`s responsibility on her soil, whether their visits are official or not. India has realised the gravity of the situation and wants to leave nothing to chance. Her concerns need to be appreciated.
The LTTE has been wrongly credited with efficiency in carrying out assassinations. Prabhakaran is using black Tigers on suicidal missions in vain. Killing political leaders in this country is a task that he can accomplish by using even some `buffaloes`. The Tigers don`t have to go for political leaders, who just walk into their hands. For, our politicians are omniscient and omnipresent. They know better than their security advisors and have the urge to rush in where angels fear to tread.
President Ranasinghe Premadasa would have been among the living, if he had resisted the temptation to go among people in a May Day procession in 1993. Lalith Athulathmudali would have been safe, had he heeded security warnings. Gamini Dissanayake was assassinated as he failed to read the LTTE`s mind and realise that it was all out to ensure the PA`s victory at the 1994 Presidential election, as it wanted a regime change. The LTTE would not have had an opportunity to make an attempt on President Chandrika Kumaratunga`s life, if she had not had a stroll up to her car across the Town Hall lawn after an election rally in 1999. Foreign Minister Lakshman Kadirgamar died at the hands of the LTTE, as he was too gentlemanly to allow his security personnel to search his neighbours` houses, one of which happened to be used by his assassins. Minister Jeyaraj Fernandopulle became a sitting duck for the Tigers at a New Year event. Our political leaders seem to have a death wish. After all, taedium vitae is in our genes as a nation, isn`t it?
VVIP protection is an integral part of national security. Systematic elimination of political leaders is part of the LTTE strategy to achieve its goal. Hence, it is imperative that the present-day leaders of all hues determined themselves not to repeat the mistakes of their predecessors and desisted from flirting with danger. The Tigers won`t hesitate to strike wherever they get a chance, for they are blind to the consequence of their action. South India, where Sri Lankan leaders rush every so often is an ideal place for the LTTE to plan and execute their assassination plots with relative ease. They have no alternative but to do as New Delhi says. Ideally, they must cut down on their temple visits in that country. (Can we have branches of those places of worship opened here?)
Meanwhile, it behoves the harum-scarum political leaders to follow protocol without bringing the country into disrepute. Any foreign nincompoop who lands here can rest assured that he or she can meet the Executive President, who keeps open house. But, Prabhakaran, who is not even a chairman of a Pradeshiya Sabha, carefully selects his guests. Not even the hoity-toity senior foreign diplomats dictating terms to the government can meet him in his jungle hideout. He does so not so much because of security risks but because he knows familiarity breeds contempt. Never mind foreigners. It was only a few months ago that President Rajapaksa thought it fit to meet a self-advertised ex-convict called Yakadaya, who had served a long sentence for murdering an innocent government servant!
President Rajapaksa, immediately after his election in 2005, visited the then Indian High Commissioner in Colombo Nirupama Rao`s official residence in breach of protocol. Would an Indian leader ever have done such a thing? Never!
So, Sri Lankan leaders must neither flout protocol nor expect others to do so for them. They must not only conduct themselves as leaders but also be seen to be doing so most importantly in one piece!