Minister Rajitha Senaratne yesterday pooh-poohed an allegation that he was involved in creating the Bodu Bala Sena made by former President Mahinda Rajapaksa last week, counter-alleging that it was his brother former Defence Secretary Gotabaya Rajapaksa who was the true patron of the extremist Sinhalese movement accused of targeting religious and ethnic minorities in the country.
Senaratne told reporters at the Cabinet press briefing yesterday that the former President’s claim was the “joke of the 21st Century.”
Asked who was truly behind the creation of the BBS, Senaratne replied: “Gotabaya. I have never minced my words about this.”
Minister Senaratne, who also served as Fisheries Minister in the Rajapaksa Cabinet, revealed that he had warned President Rajapaksa several times that his brother’s actions were destroying his Government.
“He couldn’t put a stop to that. He was scared of Gotabaya. The President was scared of the Defence Secretary. That is the kind of Government there was then,” the Cabinet Spokesman charged.
According to Senaratne, the former President would stop discussions on reconciliation and peacebuilding when aides told him the former Defence Secretary had arrived.
“He could only talk peace secretly when Gota was not around,” Senaratne said, employing his usual pithy narrative style at the weekly briefing.
Last week, in a meeting with the Foreign Correspondents Association, the former President charged that Government Ministers Champika Ranawaka and Rajitha Senaratne, who also served in his own Cabinet, had been behind the rise of the BBS and other extremist movements.
Rajapaksa claimed that Ranawaka had prevented him from acting against Bodu Bala Sena’s controversial General Secretary, Galagoda Aththe Gnanasara Thero.