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Rajapaksa, Fonseka face-off on cyberspace

world Updated: Jan 10, 2010 01:17 IST
Sutirtho Patranobis
Sutirtho Patranobis
Hindustan Times
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They are not known to be geeks but Sri Lankan President Mahinda Rajapaksa and his rival Sarath Fonseka have taken their political sabers to cyberspace.

With help from the Sinhala and Tamil diaspora, Rajapaksa and Fonseka are all over the internet. Scores of sites about the two have sprung up. Social networking sites are having a field day, and thousands of hits, with supporters of the two slugging it out virtually.

Both have websites and official facebook identities where followers are updating quotes and videos.

“There are groups of volunteers who are chipping in. We do not want to miss out on the advancement in technology,’’ a Presidential aide said, adding that during the last Presidential election in 2005 some of the new concepts were not yet popular.

Rajapaksa knows the power of the internet; he had invited India’s tech guru Narayan Murthy in 2008 to usher in the year of information technology in Sri Lanka. Fonseka too had told an interviewer that it’s easy to handle a war from anywhere with a map and satellite phone.

Of course, there is no doubt volunteers are chipping in; at 5.35 p.m. on Friday, Rajapaksa had 36,012 supporters on his facebook page, while Fonseka had 47,421 at the same time.

More than the official websites, interactive social networking sites have become more popular.

But not everything on the two is laudatory. There are several fake sites as well. The Tamil diaspora too is flooding the net with critical opinions against both. Video of the alleged execution of blind-folded prisoners by men in military fatigues is all over youtube.