Friday, January 15, 2010

'Mahinda Rajapaksa won Congress' victory'

President Mahinda Rajapaksa helped the Congress party to win in Tamil Nadu during the 2009 general elections, a top Presidential aide said on Thursday.

Secretary to Rajapaksa, Lalith Weeratunge said that Rajapaksa reached an agreement with India to stop using heavy weapons during the last stage of the war in May. That agreement, according to him, ensured victory for Congress.

Elections in Tamil Nadu took place in May, in the last phase of the general elections. At that time, there was an increasing demand for India to intervene in the war between the government troops and the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) cornered in a sliver of land in north-eastern Sri Lanka.

India had put pressure on Rajapaksa to ensure the safety of Tamil civilians trapped between the advancing army and retreating LTTE.

"Elections were being held in India so if the government of India did not do something to stop what the rest of the world thought the massacre of Tamils (as it was wrongly termed) the Tamils would not vote for the Congress,’’ Weeratunge told Daily Mirror online in an interview.

Weeratunga said earlier Rajapaksa had earlier turned down a request from India to stop military operations "but later reached an agreement to stop using heavy weapons in order to help the Congress win the polls," the website quoted him as saying.

Weeratunge said: "they (India) said 'please stop this. But the President said “sorry I cannot do that”. But he added “ok, what do you want me to do to ensure victory of the Congress Party”? They requested that the use of heavy weaponry be stopped. This is what brought India and Sri Lanka closer.’’

The decision by Rajapaksa to stop using heavy weapon led the Congress to victory, the bureaucrat said. ``With the halt in use of heavy weaponry…the Congress gained strength and the victory in Tamil Nadu can be attributed to this decision by the Government of Sri Lanka,’’ Weeratunge said.

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