Despite popular belief, President Gotabaya never asked Mahinda to resign from the Premiership. Gotabaya expected Mahinda to manage the political aspect while he focused on implementing his vision.
They each understood their roles. But it was the henchmen around each of them who failed to understand this essential partnership. This sub-level tension has been building up since the Viyathmaga initiation. So then who wanted Mahinda out?
It was Wimal Weerawansha and Udaya Gammanpila that demanded Gotabaya to remove Mahinda. Gotabaya refused, saying that it was unconstitutional. Mahinda was indeed the legitimate Prime Minister.
Wimal and Udaya then used the post-covid economic crisis to amplify public anger against the Rajapaksas. Udaya as the Minister of Energy created public panic by announcing that there would be no fuel in a matter of days. They then went on to destabilise the government from within.
Gotabaya had no choice but to remove them from the cabinet. A decision too late. The chain reaction had already gone out of control.
At a private meeting, Chamal Rajapaksa proposed that all Rajapaksas resign from their cabinet portfolios including Mahinda from his premiership as a way to mitigate the public protest. And they did so days before the Mirihana attack.
However, some of the ministers requested Mahinda to remain as the premier and instead, the rest of the cabinet resigned from their portfolios. A devious political move.
Now Gotabaya had no cabinet except the Prime Minister! How can you run a country like that? Gotabaya had only two choices.
A) Reinstate the previous cabinet which is what the former ministers wanted. But that’s not going to help solve the public protest. And Gotabaya was not ready to give in to the cunning plan of the ministers.
B) Form a coalition cabinet with ministers from the opposing parties. He openly invited all to join but they all refused saying that Mahinda must resign first. Considering the deadlock, Mahinda stepped down from the Premiership. In desperation, some of the ministers brought some of their supporters to the Temple Trees as a final attempt to reverse the decision. A stupid action that gave the JVP bloodhounds just what they wanted to create the 'May 9 Massacre'.
Gotabaya then invited Sajith Premadasa to take up the premiership as the obvious choice since he is the opposition leader. Premadasa was shivering in his voice. He had too many questions and doubts. He had already been beaten up by the Aragala mob at the Galle Face. Premadasa was too weak to handle the pressure.
Gotabaya wanted somebody who had a strong personality and who was not afraid to make difficult decisions. So he called his old military partner Sarath Fonseka and invited him to take up the premiership. Fonseka was also the second in command at SJB. To Gotabaya’s surprise, Fonseka too was hesitating. The brave man who once fought with him shoulder-to-shoulder and then eventually teamed up hand-in-hand to end the then world’s deadliest terrorist organisation was no longer there. Despite Fonseka’s macho talk, he’s now a weak old man.
President Gotabaya had no time to waste. He urgently needed a Prime Minister and a cabinet. Who else is there to call? Who has the experience to take up a government’s premiership in a time of chaos? Who can tackle the different political forces at play behind Aragalaya? Who has the unwavering grit to withstand any pressure thrown at him?
Gotabaya could think of only one man. He called Ranil Wickremasinghe and invited him to take up the challenge.
Gotabaya immediately realised it was the correct decision. Because Ranil asked only one single question… “What time shall I come to swear in?”
May The Dharma Guide Our Way!