Economic punches and developmental disappointments might have bruised and battered Mahinda Rajapaksa’s once enormous popularity among Sinhala masses. Yet a considerable part of it still endures. There is nothing outlandish about this; despotic leaders are usually popular, for a while, before the devastating costs of their rule become manifest. Vellupillai Pirapaharan was popular in his time. So was Adolf Hitler, until the Americans’ daylight carpet-bombing of German cities and the Red Army’s arrival on the borders of the Thousand Year Reich compelled ordinary Germans to realise the inevitability of a defeat on a Götterdämmerung scale.
Mahinda Rajapaksa is popular among Sinhala masses because his promise of ushering a developmental Shangri la is believed, still. He has credibility because the 30 year Eelam War came to a victorious conclusion under his leadership. The non-appearance of the much anticipated peace dividend and the consequent exacerbation of economic hardships have dented, somewhat, the hope of a richer tomorrow. But a huge chunk of the Sinhala South still clings to the belief that the Rajapaksas can and will deliver the promised felicitous future.
The Siblings would know the importance of keeping that faith alive. They would also know that economic outrages, such as the electricity rates hike, can cause serious fissures in that belief.