| by Upul Joseph Fernando

( March 26, 2014, Colombo, Sri Lanka Guardian) Mahinda's unmitigated concern about the Ukraine issue came out strongly at last week's Cabinet meeting. He pulled up External Affairs Minister, G.L. Peiris, over an untimely and hasty release of a statement on the Ukraine issue. The President drew Peiris' attention to a column I had written under the title, 'Putin-Yanukovych, Modi-Wigneswaran,' in which also appeared in Thursday's Mawbima column under the title, 'Will Modi follow Putin doctrine to interfere in Sri Lanka,' which sounded a warning to the government.

Referring to that column, Mahinda had warned Peiris to refrain from acting hastily in relation to diplomatic conflicts involving other countries. He wanted Peiris to follow a more prudent policy of 'wait and see' before issuing statements such as the one issued on Crimea. When GL offered an explanation Mahinda said the columnist had insinuated the possibility of India's next Premier, presumably Modi, in cahoots with Jayalalithaa could deploy Indian forces to Sri Lanka citing a similar position as in Ukraine, which enabled Putin to use Russian forces to annex Crimea. This sort of speculations, he said, are made in the media to cause fear among the people, which is counterproductive. At this point, GL emphasized that it was pure conjecture on the part of the writer. Minister Wimal Weerawansa added a campaign of misinformation is being carried out by certain embassies via news media to create undue fear among the unsuspecting public. As such the government should take early action to counter such moves that are trying to raise a spectre of fear psychosis among people.

Cause for concern

All these reactions which arose in consequence of the analysis of the Ukraine issue, seems to have had a profound effect causing concern in the highest echelons of the government. Two matters arising from that issue presumably has caused serious concern in Mahinda's mind; Modi's almost certain elevation to India's Premiership in the near future and Crimean issue are the matters causing him concern. As a matter of fact, Mahinda is more concerned about what India could do in any given situation in this country than what the UNHRC could do with adopting resolutions, against it. Mahinda has good reasons to be concerned. He has firsthand experience in the traumatic incidents surrounding 1987 Indo-Lanka peace agreement. Mahinda, an avid believer in astrology, must have taken note of certain remarks I had made in the column he referred to at the last week's Cabinet meeting.

"JR was not a serious believer in astrology. In 1977 his first Cabinet took oaths during 'Rahu Kalaya' despite warnings of his old faithful supporters. JR's second Cabinet took oaths at an auspicious time on account of the insistence of his friends and colleagues. Ironically, JR had most troubles during this second term. However, due to a correct prediction one astrologer had made at some later date, JR had got himself interested in astrology. Astrologer who made the prediction said, 'You are now mentally conditioned to think that Sirima and Felix being made ineligible to contest elections and the JVP having been banned, there is no one to challenge you. But it is wrong. When bad planetary configurations occur bad times will visit you, come what may. That is unavoidable. Your troubles will come from outside the country, not from within, beware of it.' This astrological prediction proved to be correct to its last detail. JR's second term started in the troubled times of 1983 'Black July' and he had to face two insurgencies, respectively in the North and the South, signalling his downfall. Will Mahinda face the same fate?

Compelling reasons

"Mahinda has many compelling reasons to be upset over the Crimean issue. Jayalalithaa has promised in her election manifesto to set up an Eelam State for the Tamils in Sri Lanka with the blessings of the UN by holding a referendum among the Tamils in Sri Lanka and the world over. Karunanidhi has promised an Eelam in the North, based on a referendum to be held in the North under the aegis of the UN. In the face of such brazen promises by South Indian political big guns, Mahinda's concerns about Modi's arrival in Indian political scene and the Ukraine issue are quite understandable. Putin too followed this line of action to annex Crimea. India's silence on the Crimea issue should also be a cause for concern for Mahinda.

"Indian world affairs analysts comment that India should support Russia in this instance. They point out that when India organized the merger of Sikkim as 22nd state of India after a referendum with 97.05% Sikkimese voting for merger it was Soviet Russia that supported India's move. It is therefore incumbent upon India to extend its fullest support to Russia in the Crimean affair. Disregarding Chinese condemnation of Russian intervention in Crimea, India has issued a statement to the effect that 'India believes Russia has legitimate interests in Crimea.' In the present trying circumstances under which Mahinda is plodding along in the arena of international relations, India's unequivocal stand on Crimea should aggravate Mahinda's concerns."