Gotabaya Rajapaksa’s presidency has started off predictably and disquietingly.
After Ranil Wickremesinghe stepped down as Prime Minister the new president lost no time in appointing Mahinda as the new prime minister of a caretaker government.
Another brother, Chamal, has been appointed a minister in the government, which will hold fort until fresh parliamentary elections are held in March 2020.
The present parliament can be dissolved before the end of its five year term next August. At the height of the previous Rajapaksa rule, there were 40 family members in government.
Mahinda, who was barred from the presidential election because he had already held the office twice, will run the country in close coordination with his brother.
The parliamentary configuration is not such as to allow the new dispensation to do away with progressive amendments to the Constitution made by the last government to check the powers of the executive presidency.
It including the two-time bar.
The Rajapaksas turned the clock back on these 2015 amendments when the opportunity arises.
State of polity:
President Rajapaksa is confident of winning the 2020 parliamentary election.
A divided opposition, engaged in a tug of war between Wickremesinghe and Sajith Premadasa, is unlikely to put up a fight to the Rajapaksa.
Sri Lankan voters have seen that cohabitation, by which the president and prime minister are from different parties leads to paralysis of governance.
From the perspective of India:
India has communicated its desire for hastening national reconciliation in Sri Lanka.
In the post-war years, the rulers oversaw an unprecedented militarisation of the Sinhala Buddhist majority community.
Voters from the majority community have not forgotten that it was the Rajapaksas who crafted a victory over the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam(LTTE).
This powered Gotabaya’s majoritarian victory in these elections.
National reconciliation requires statesmanship of a tall order.
If Gotabaya, the newest majoritarian right wing leader to join the growing ranks of such leaders in the world, can pull it off.