Speculations rife as WPC
election race heats up
members after handing over their nominations
By Vindya Amaranayake
The Western Provincial Council election race has been heating up
ever since the Council was prematurely dissolved on the midnight
of January 28. There was much speculation as to who would
receive nominations to run for the Council election. All doubts
were put to rest last week when the nominations were closed at
For the 102 seats in the Council, 14 political parties and 23
independent groups are fielding 2,048 candidates to contest at
the elections to be held on April 25. Also, seven lists tendered
by political parties and four tendered by independent groups in
the three districts were rejected.
Of the two main parties, it was the United People’s Freedom
Alliance (UPFA) that handed over its nominations first. The
party which has been enjoying a streak of elections wins for a
several years now, handed over its list of nominations a day
ahead on Wednesday. Party General Secretary, Education Minister
Susil Premajayantha, submitted the list of nominations to the
Elections Commission. Accordingly, the party’s Colombo District
list will be headed by former Councillor Sunil Jayamini while
the Gampaha District contesters will be under the leadership of
former Provincial Minister Prasanna Ranatunga. Kalutara District
organisations are under former Chief Minister Reginald Cooray.
However, despite anticipations, the UPFA Chief Ministerial
candidate for the Western Provincial Council has not been not
named yet. Former Chief Minister Cooray has expressed wish to
return to national politics, and therefore, naming a person for
the top post in the Council has been the talk of town since the
Council was dissolved. Speculation was rife that businessman
Thilanga Sumathipala would receive nominations to run for the
post, but party sources later revealed that they would choose a
new and veteran party man to run for the Chief Minister post.
The main opposition United National Party’s (UNP) lists were
handed over on Thursday. The party’s Colombo District list is
led by former WPC Councillor Lakshman Abeygunaratna. Lawrence
Madiwela is leading the Gampaha District and Kalutara District
is led by Kithsiri Kahatapitiya. The UNP too has not come up
with a Chief Ministerial nominee.
It has been the practice of the UNP during the recently
concluded elections – especially North Central, Sabaragamuwa and
Central Provincial Council elections, to nominate popular
individuals for the Chief Ministerial post. Despite the fact
that the party lost in all three provinces, the CM candidates
managed to come on top with a massive number of preferential
votes, surpassing the winning party’s candidates by an enormous
It would be interesting to see if the UNP has changed its focus
this time around, to make the party more attractive that having
just one already popular candidate.
However, in case the UNP plans to stick to the same tactic, it
would be interesting to see who the party would be bringing into
the election battle this time.
The Janatha Vimukthi Peramuna (JVP), which is contesting alone
for the Western Province, has already nominated its Chief
Ministerial candidate. It is their Gampaha District group leader
Waruna Rajapaksa. An amusing fact to note is that the JVP
candidate shares the name of President Mahinda Rajapaksa and his
brothers who are at the helm of government at present.
Also, the JVP Colombo District list is headed by former
Inter-University Student Council Convenor Duminda Nagamuwa.
Their Kalutara District leader is Dr. Nalinda Jayatissa and the
Gampaha District organisation will be carried out by Chief
Ministerial candidate Waruna Rajapaksa himself.
Meanwhile, the Sri Lanka Muslim Congress (SLMC) which has been
deliberating over the election strategies for the last few
weeks, has finally decided to contest alone in the Colombo
District. The SLMC has expressively mentioned that this decision
was not taken with the view of abandoning the UNP. However, in
Gamapaha and Kalutara Districts, the SLMC is teaming up with
Mano Ganesan’s Democratic People’s Front. This decision was
taken to prevent minority votes from being divided between the
The election will elect 102 members – 43 from Colombo, 39 from
Gampaha and 20 from Kalutara.