Sri Lanka polls: Salman Khan failed to rescue Mahinda Rajapaksa

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The loss of Mahinda Rajapaksa in the presidential election in Sri Lanka proved that Bollywood power has little influence when it comes to hard politics. Indian actor Salman Khan and former Miss Sri Lanka Universe and Bollywood actor Jacqueline Fernandes had campaigned for Rajapaksa ahead of the election and also shared the stage with the former Sri Lankan president. [Rajapaksa concedes defeat]

[Sri Lanka elections: Who is Maithripala Sirisena?]

Salman Khan called Rajapaksa amazing man but faced protests

Khan even called Rajapaksa "an amazing man" during campaigning in the island nation. The actor, however, faced wrath of Tamils in his hometown Mumbai for campaigning for Rajapaksa and protests took place outside his Bandra home criticising him for backing "War Criminal Rajapaksa".

[Rajapaksa's loss: Immediate concerns for India]

[Dissecting Rajapaksa's loss]

Salman failed to rescue Rajapaksa

Tamil parties like the DMK and MDMK condemned Khan for campaigning for the former president.

It was during his term that civilian casualties peaked in the country's Tamil-dominated north-east region and the LTTE was decimated in 2009.

Khan's rallies attracted large crowds in Colombo and other places in Sri Lanka but yet the writing was on the wall for Rajapaksa and he conceded defeat and gave way to opponent Maithripala Sirisena, who was a former colleague of him.

But glamour factor could do little to make up for the hard facts against Rajapaksa

Rajapaksa was looking a certain winner after he brought the elections forward by two years but things changed in November when his former minister Sirisena decided to split from him and got support of other defecting politicians and a section of the ethnic minorities and turned the election into a referendum on the popular incumbent.

Rajapaksa also had a strong control on the state media and the financial resources and also enjoyed a popularity among the Sinhala majority for his role in defeating the Tamil Tigers and put an end to the civil war but the anti-incumbency mood was perhaps too much for him to tackle as turnout was exceptionally high in the Tamil-dominated areas.

It is said that Tamils felt abandoned since Rajapaksa did not care to address the Tamil demands to heal the wounds of the prolonged civil war and bloodshed. Sirisena was their natural alternative.

Charges of corruption and nepotism, the non-inclusive economic growth and the growing tilt towards China and against the West also added to the anti-Rajapaksa mood in the country.

To expect a popular actor from the neighbouring country to make up for issues that are serious and hard was perhaps too much for a dream for Rajapaksa's supporters.

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