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This post continues with the saga of Ranil’s 2001 government, when I heard from his by then great admirer Ilika Karunaratne as to why he had sidelined the senior members of his party.

But then I have to stop because the rest of my account of what happened, over 2002, is locked up in the computer now given for repair.

And since I am travelling posts may be irregular over the next week.

The death of Gamini Athukorale

The two most senior members of the party, Karu Jayasuriya and Gamini Athukorale, had been given unimportant Ministries and she told me this was because Ranil could not trust them, since they had been involved in trying to replace him as UNP leader. So, though it had been expected that they would be given Finance and Defence, those were instead given to parliamentarians appointed on the National List, whose sole allegiance was to Ranil, and who proved disastrous.

On the 31st I was again at the Ministry, also seeing the head of the General Education 2 World Bank Project, into which the Materials Production component had been subsumed. Then in the evening, having dropped in at Anila’s, though before her party began, I went to the cottage where Kithsiri and I welcomed the New Year with drinks and chocolates.

That was the night Gamini Athukorale died, very suddenly. Mangala Samaraweera, devoted then to Chandrika Kumaratunga, charged that Ranil had been responsible for his death, which seems far-fetched. But it is possible that the LTTE, preparing to run circles round Ranil, eliminated him as the only person who stood between them and domination of the government.  

Rajiva Wijesinha


September 2022
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