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Widening rift between CBK, Govt. revealed at Anura’s funeral
Differences between former President and SLFP leader Chandrika Kumaratunga and the government had emerged at MP Anura Bandaranaike’s funeral at Horagolla, where SLFP General Secretary Maithripala Sirisena was denied the opportunity to deliver President Mahinda Rajapaksa’s condolence message, well informed sources said.

A furious Kumaratunga had said the message should be read by Minister D. M. Jayaratne. If that wasn’t acceptable, the message should not be read, sources quoted Kumaratunga directing the organizers, while emphasizing that her instructions should be carried out to the letter.

Maithripala Sirisena had the President’s message and was ready to deliver it, the sources said. Although, Kumaratunga was told the President wanted the SLFP General Secretary to represent him, the former President had refused to change her mind. The organising committee had also denied the opportunity to deliver the President’s condolence message first, the sources said.

Political sources said Road Passenger Transport Minister Lasantha Alagiyawanne, who represented Attanagalle, too, was sidelined. The sources said the rift between the Rajapaksa administration and Kumaratunga had widened with the former President declaring that she wouldn’t play ball with the government.

The pall bearers had been Harry Jayawardena, Merrick Gooneratne, Sunil James, Sudath Gunasinghe, Priyankara Perera and Saman Fernando.

Although Kumaratunga’s unexpected visit to Temple Trees, two days before Anura Bandaranaike’s death on March 16, had fuelled speculation that there would be an end to bickering, in fact, the situation had further deteriorated, the sources said, asserting the former President had set the stage for further battles with the government.

Due to the absence of Anura Bandaranaike’s nephew Vimukthi, the UK-based recipient of Horagolla, ritualistic functions which should have been performed by him couldn’t be carried out, the sources said. Recently, Anura had gifted the once magnificent home which went to rack and ruin due to poor maintenance, to Vimukthi. Anura’s nice Yashodara, too, hadn’t turned up, the sources said. The death occurred as Kumaratunga was in the process of re-building and re-structuring the ancestral home to its old glory.

His other properties, a magnificent bungalow in the heart of Nuwara Eliya and the state-of-the-art house at No 65A Rosmead Place would now be devolved to his sisters. Work on the Geoffrey Bawa designed 65 A had been completed a few weeks before Anura Bandaranaike’s death and the family had contemplated moving him there from hospital.

Kumaratunga, too, had built her own house (65 B) in the same compound where she lived with Vijaya Kumaratunga.

Well informed sources said several officials and politicians who had worked closely with Anura Bandaranaike, too, avoided the funeral. In fact, Anura Bandaranaike had given them the much needed break to enter politics, the sources said. Among the notable absentees had been a person who received a plum appointment from Anura Bandaranaike on the recommendation of a family friend. The one-time blue eyed boy had secured an equally important and well paid job from the incumbent President, the sources said.

The absence of the Colombo based diplomatic community, despite him being a former Foreign Minister and the son of two national leaders, had surprised many, the sources said.

Another person who didn’t even bother to send a condolence message was a serving Head of a Mission whom the late MP lovingly called the empress. "He used to talk to her over the phone and visit her during his many visits to Europe," an official said.

The First Lady Mrs Shiranthi Rajapaksa had paid her last respects to Anura Bandaranaike at Horagolla. She had been accompanied by the President’s sister. The First Lady was cold shouldered there, the sources said, the President and his brothers played their last respects when the body was taken to Parliament.

The sources revealed the family was in touch with a US-based Sri Lankan Attorney-at-Law who once functioned as Anura Bandaranaike’s private secretary regarding his will. The sources said a US law firm had executed the will. The Attorney-at-Law had been to Colombo shortly before Anura Bandaranaike’s death, the sources said, adding an ex-banker who handled Bandaranaike’s assets had briefed the family of what he held.

Bandaranaike, undoubtedly one of the most travelled Sri Lankans, had saved a substantial amount of money in foreign currency, the sources said.

The sources said Bandaranaike had kept a sizeable amount of funds with one or two close associates, one of them had been seen at Visumpaya on March 14 (Friday) with a file. But nothing could have been more shocking than a front-page advertisement to promote ‘Tingel’ eco-restaurant, at No 65 Rosmead Place, the old Bandaranaike mansion alongside Bandaranaike’s death.

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