Colombo: Former Sri Lankan president Mahinda Rajapaksa has hit back at predecessor Chandrika Kumaratunga for carrying out a personal attack on him through Indian media, saying it is "incongruous" as she ran "one of the most repressive governments in living memory".
In a statement posted on his website yesterday, Rajapaksa said he much regretted Kumaratunga's comments, and that as former leader of his Sri Lanka Freedom Party (SLFP) and current member of its Central Committee and co-Patron, what she tells the foreign media during trips, "reflects on our party and our country".
He reacted strongly to Kumaratunga's remarks in media interactions during her recent visit to India that she had difficulties in looking around for a party front ranker to contest against him because "it was difficult to find anyone in the SLFP who wasn't known to be corrupt or a murderer".
"...It is incongruous for Mrs Kumaratunga to be talking of a police state because she ran one of the most repressive governments in living memory," he wrote.
Rajapaksa hit back, saying when he took over as President from Kumaratunga in 2005 ending her 11-year rule, "terrorists were ruling about a third of the country".
"For more than a decade, the country had seen very little development. During my tenure, I am proud to say that I concentrated on solving the country's problems. I saw to it that terrorism was eliminated and that the country was developed.
"I did not spend my time persecuting my political opponents or go around the world maligning my own party and bringing disgrace upon my country. All members of the SLFP should be mindful that Mrs Kumaratunga's statements about our party only goes to strengthen our opponents at our expense. We should be working to strengthen our party not to weaken it further," said the 69-year-old former strongman.
Rajapaksa noted that almost all the SLFP members he had inherited from Kumaratunga were those who were ministers in her government.
"I took over the party that she left behind," he added.
Charging that Kumaratunga had demeaned the SLFP in Indian media, Rajapaksa said: "No Indian would ever see a former leader (or a Central Committee member or Patron) of the Congress
Party or The BJP expressing joy at the defeat of his or her own political party in that manner.
"While that alone would be cause for much shame and embarrassment for all members of the SLFP and the UPFA, some of the things that she said about our party are positively insulting.
"When the co-Patron and a sitting Central Committee member of the SLFP tells the foreign media that members of her own party are virtually all rogues or murderers, that reflects very badly on our party."