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Explained: The Rajapaksa clan in Sri Lankan politics.



No other political dynasty in South Asia has been so confidently nepotistic. In addition to the cabinet, Mahinda Rajapaksa was said to have had more than 40 Rajapaksa relatives in government positions during his second term as President, 2010-15.

The Rajapaksa family includes the President and Prime Minister of Sri Lanka. They hail from Hambantota in the south. President Gotabaya Rajapaksa is a third-generation politician. His brothers Chamal, PM Mahinda, and Basil are his brothers, while Mahinda’s and Chamal’s sons Namal and Yositha are the fourth generation.

The Rajapaksa family includes the President and Prime Minister of Sri Lanka. They hail from Hambantota in the south. President Gotabaya Rajapaksa is a third-generation politician. His brothers Chamal, PM Mahinda, and Basil are his brothers, while Mahinda’s and Chamal’s sons Namal and Yositha are the fourth generation.

No other political dynasty in South Asia has been so confidently nepotistic. In addition to the cabinet, Mahinda Rajapaksa was said to have had more than 40 Rajapaksa relatives in government positions during his second term as President, 2010-15. After Mahinda’s government was defeated, many were questioned about financial fraud. Basil, who is also a US citizen, was taken into custody. His wife and eldest child were also interrogated.

The Rajapaksa clan took over 11 ministries under the direction of Gotabaya & Mahinda. Additional family members are accommodated at the President’s and PM’s secretariat. In addition, Los Angeles has at least one consul general who holds a diplomatic position.

Two Rajapaksas were present in Sri Lanka’s first parliament. These elections were held in the months before Sri Lanka’s independence in February 1948. One of them was the father of the current President and Prime Minister. Don Alwin Rajapaksa, a founding member of the Sri Lanka Freedom Party (SFLP), was a two-time legislator. However, the party was under the control of another founding member, S W R D Bandaranaike (an Oxford-educated scion from a wealthy family on the outskirts of Colombo). His wife, Sirimavo, assumed control of the party after his assassination on May 29, 1959.

Mahinda & Gotabaya

Mahinda Rajapaksa had been in politics for more than two decades when Chandrika Kumaratunga took over the leadership of SLFP in 1994 from Sirimavo Bandaranaike. He was not a threat to Kumaratunga’s leadership, and he served as a cabinet Minister during her two terms as President. Others in the family were also involved in politics, including elder brother Chamal and cousin Nirupama.

After Kumaratunga had retired from politics, Mahinda was able to run for the presidency in 2005. Gotabaya, Mahinda’s defense secretary, led his determined effort to defeat the LTTE militarily. The Rajapaksas could not look back after the 2009 victory, in which thousands of Tamil civilians died or were missing. The brothers led Sri Lanka’s militarization of the Sinhalese/Buddhist majority. This was also when Mahinda inducted more than a dozen family members into different positions. Large-scale corruption was prevalent. After Lasantha Wickrematunge’s murder, journalists began to fear for the safety of their lives.

This was also when Rajapaksas welcomed China — Beijing had been a friend since Sirimavo’s days — and launched a massive infrastructure push. In 2011, Hambantota was opened. The country was connected via new Chinese-built expressways. In 2014, a Chinese submarine visited Colombo port. This alarm sounded in New Delhi.

India’s insistent on a political solution to the Tamils did not gain much traction in Colombo. The presence of the DMK in the UPA also meant that the government at the UN Human Rights Council took a hostile stand. Mahinda would blame Mahinda’s defeat in 2015’s presidential elections on India’s R & R&AW. His attempt to become PM was thwarted when the SLFP, a fractured party, lost the parliamentary elections.

The return and now

Mahinda made his return to politics in 2018 with local elections. Fearful of Mahinda returning, President Mathripala Sirisena fired PM Ranil Wickremesinghe and replaced him with Mahinda. After the new arrangement failed, Wickremesinghe was forced to resign a few months later. Mahinda created a caretaker government.

Gotabaya was the clear winner of the 2019 presidential election. Mahinda was elected to the parliamentary assembly in mid-2020 with a majority of two-thirds. Their government was unable to predict the severity of the crisis. The Rajapaksas, who rose to great popularity, are now at the bottom of their political careers.


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Top 10 Democratic Presidential candidates in 2024 as ranked.



The month of February was completely focused on other events around the globe — therefore, you could be forgiven for not having seen an interesting survey on U.S. politics. (We did it, writing about these issues as a profession.)

The survey, conducted by YouGov, focused on what 2024 would be like for the Democratic presidential primary. Only 21 per cent of those who favoured Democrats indicated that they would vote for Joe Biden, the current Democratic presidency, Joe Biden. Biden was just a fraction over those who stated that they didn’t know who they favoured, and vice presidents Harris and Bernie Sanders each had 14 per cent of the vote.

This isn’t normal. There’s evidence to suggest that Democrats aren’t convinced to nominate Biden for another term, such as an opinion poll from November that showed that most Democrats opposed him being a candidate again. But a majority of Republicans are the same when it comes to the possibility of a second campaign in the direction of Donald Trump in 2024 -but he’s the candidate to win when you compare Biden against potential opponents.

Democrats have to determine what they will do with this. There’s a good argument for arguing that the most effective alternative is to pick an alternative candidate. However, should you do that if Biden intends to run again, would you be willing to allow an open primary that could leave the choice in the hands of voters — and possibly tarnish incumbent presidents, like Jimmy Carter vs Ted Kennedy in 1980? Do you gently suggest to Biden that it’s better to let the torch pass and hope it succeeds? Do you wish that things improve?

These important issues are likely to be left unanswered until after Democrats look at how 2022’s elections play out. In this time, we’ve witnessed what jockeying one would expect in a scenario. Biden hasn’t been completely specific about whether he’ll be running again, which could signal a green light to those preparing for the possibility that he doesn’t.

With this all in mind, We’re changing our annual presidential rankings. In the past, we’ve removed Biden from our rankings which suggested that we’d likely have an actual primary if he didn’t contest. But it’s becoming increasingly important to think about the possibility that should he decide to run and win, he’ll have the field all to himself -and he may not end up being the best candidate in all aspects.

Here are the latest rankings.

Other notable people include Commerce Secretary Gina Raimondo, New Jersey Governor. Phil Murphy, Illinois Gov. J.B. Pritzker, Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer, Kentucky Gov. Andy Beshear, Stacey Abrams, Mitch Landrieu, Rep. Ro Khanna (Calif.)

  1. Alexandria Ocasio Cortez: The more feasible option for the 32-year old congresswoman is to wait her time until she can be a candidate for Senate. The congresswoman did not participate in the possibility of running in a primary election to run against Senate Majority Leader Charles E. Schumer (D-N.Y.) in the past and would stand an opportunity to challenge Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-N.Y.) in 2024. She may run for a more prestigious post in 2024, of which she scored 6 per cent in the YouGov survey. She’s not taking steps similar to those on this list. However, she’d already have a base as well as the progressive path would be much more accessible this time around, as Sanders has stated that he is likely to be out. (Previous ranking: 10)
  2. Gavin Newsom: Some California political observers have noticed Newsom’s presence more frequently in the recent debates on national politics. “It’s very obvious Newsom would like to be president someday,” SFGate’s Eric Ting wrote this week. The exact way that it would be handled isn’t as clear. Newsom won a major victory in a widely watched recall election last year, but how he’d sway voters from outside the Golden State is a big problem. Newsom almost oozes “West Coast liberal,” although he’s probably slightly more moderate than most people are aware of. (Previous ranking: 7)
  3. Cory Booker: The senator from New Jersey was one of the most prominent figures of the Democrat’s campaign for confirmation of Ketanji Brown Jackson on the Supreme Court, delivering some poignant remarks about the importance of the event. His 2020 campaign was nowhere far from achieving the potential of his first political career. However, Booker has just turned 52 and will likely perform another feat on the national scene. (Previous ranking: 6)
  4. Sherrod Brown: Perhaps the most significant surprise of the early 2020 Democratic primary could be that Senator Sherrod Brown from Ohio decided not to run. This was partly because the senator decided he wasn’t interested in running as the other Democrats were. Likely, this will not change by 2024. With Sanders out, there may be more room for his popular style of politics. You can bet that many established Democrats would place Brown highly on their list of candidates. There’s a big problem: Brown is running for reelection in 2024 and could not be able to come back to running for an election in the red-hot state of Ohio. (Previous ranking: n/a)
  5. Roy Cooper: He might be the leading candidate who isn’t talked about the most. It’s partly due to him being governor and his style. If it’s a”just-win-baby” type of election and Democrats are looking for a Biden-style presidential candidate (though this isn’t Biden himself), then the North Carolinian checks many boxes. He’s also, like Brown, who has won repeatedly in an authoritarian state, one that Democrats would like to get in the spotlight. (Previous ranking: 5)
  6. Amy Klobuchar: Senator from Minnesota is likely to gain from a Biden-free contest, as do many others could benefit from a Sanders-free election. But what would the cost be? The highest point she reached at 20 per cent for the year 2020 came from New Hampshire, and she was not as successful in Iowa well before Biden kicked things into high gear. (Previous ranking: 4)
  7. Elizabeth Warren: Sanders’s camp has made suggestions that Biden is likely to be battling a progressive opponent in 2024. Who exactly would this part from the political line be putting behind? Politico has reported that the top Sanders advisers have been involved in establishing the field for 2024however, they have done so by urging Rep. Ro Khanna (D-Calif.) to run rather than by helping build Warren. Sanders and Warren have been frequent allies within the Senate; however, their 2020 presidential campaigns turned quite ugly when competing against one another. Senator Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts also is running for reelection in 2024 and has stated she will be pursuing it. (Previous ranking: 3)
  8. Kamala D. Harris: We’re moving Harris to a different position this time. Being vice president is an effective launchpad, but it’s not clear if Harris has utilized it positively. Harris’ numbers are comparable to Biden’s, and she’s not done much to change the perceptions that have harmed her campaign for 2020, particularly her capacity to convey the message. It’s also unlikely that she’d run against Biden if he runs (while others may have had a wiggle room to do this). The good news is that Biden has already committed to her as his running mate once again. (Previous ranking: 1)
  9. Pete Buttigieg, The transportation secretary, has moved ahead of Harris but without a great deal of conviction from our side. He had a strong race in 2020 — we’ll say he was close to winning the initial two contests. And he could enter 2024 with greater authority as a cabinet secretary. We’d anticipate a Biden-less race to be among the most open-ended races in recent history. If the public doesn’t want Biden or Harris, he’s the second in line because of his plausibility. (Previous ranking: 2)
  10. President Biden, after all of that, the darkest times are usually for presidents during an election year with a midterm. Also, Biden is battling an epidemic and inflation issues to deal with. If the two factors diminish in the next few months, and then after the midterms in 2022? The scenario could be dramatically different. Suppose Republicans get some control over Congress (which is highly likely). It might even aid Biden politically since Biden will have something to compete against (even in opposition to Donald Trump). However, most of us aren’t sure if we’ll see him attempt to become the first Octtogenarian candidate for president.


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