This post gives the reason for Lalith resigning, but also explores more about how Ranil functioned. His capacity for revenge was unlimited, and his Minister of Education also suffered as did Lalith. And so did other senior members of the party, as I found out on New Year’s Eve, though details of that must wait.

The seeds of failure

Lalith’s reason for leaving the Ministry was based on a simple point, that the new Secretary was someone who would not take decisions without heaps of supporting signatures, and indeed this diagnosis was confirmed some time later by Mr Wijayadasa who had been President Premadasa’s Secretary.

I upbraided him for having appointed Nanayakkara, for I had been told he had been on the selection committee. He said that had not been the case, but he know the man: he had come as a youngster to the President’s office and had been told every morning what he should do, and in the evening he had reported on the reasons why he had not been able to do anything. It was not long before Premadasa and Wijayadasa got rid of him.

The next day, Saturday, was Christmas, and we had the 5th Lane cousins for lunch, including Ranil. Kodituwakku had not been made a Minister, but was simply State Minister of Education, and he had two other State Ministers supposedly under him, for School Education and Higher Education. Both of them were Ranil’s favourites whereas Kodituwakku was supposed not to be in his good books, a fact which some years later Ravi Karunanayake explained to me. When I asked Ranil why there was no Cabinet Minister for Education, he said that had been an oversight, and it would be remedied.

But I do not believe it was an oversight, and the remedy was actioned only a couple of months later and by then the other two had entrenched themselves, and Kodituwakku felt sidelined, which had doubtless been Ranil’s intention. Later he told me that he spent most of his time at the Ministry of Cultural Affairs, which was also part of his brief, and where he did not have Ranil’s acolytes throwing their weight about.

In the evening I dropped in at the parties Nirmali and my sister had and then went to the cottage for the night. Next day I went to the university to teach, with a Faculty meeting in the afternoon, and then got back to the cottage. Next day there was a workshop at the NIE about the Colleges, and then I went to the Ministry to see the Educational Publications people, and then went to the Council for an EASL meeting. Nirmali and Neomal and I then worked on the books, and the next day was much the same, work on books and at the Ministry and NIE. The next day, Saturday, was only an NIE workshop, and I also prepared my work report for December, a practice I had started which had helped both Tara and me to measure progress.

On Sunday the 30th I prepared papers for a couple of conferences I had to get to in January, and that night had dinner at my cousin Kshanika’s. That was when Ilika Karunaratne, now firmly behind Ranil though she had been scathing about him when she was involved with Lalith Athulathmudali, revealed how paranoid Ranil was.