Election fever reaches
working hard for a landslide victory
at receiving end of election violence
intense in Galle district
to bypass Political Affairs Committee
Now that the Southern PC poll is only five days away, the
election fever gripping the South has reached a new high.
This election, being a precursor to the Presidential and
General Parliamentary elections round the corner, is
considered decisive for both the government and the main
The government coalition is working hard to register a
landslide victory to create the necessary momentum for a
cake walk at the two upcoming elections. Government
Ministers, and the UPFA’s PC , UC and Pradeshiya Sabha
members who have pitched camp in the Galle, Matara and
Hambatota districts several weeks ago appear set to leave no
stone unturned in their quest for more and more votes.
Meanwhile, President Mahinda Rajapaksa makes it a point to
take time off his tight schedule as the head of State to
visit the South as often as possible to personally meet the
people and to provide leadership to the UPFA campaign. He is
expected to address the final rallies to be held in Galle,
Matara and Hambantota on October 4, 5 and 6 respectively.
The government victory in the South is a foregone
conclusion. Even, the main political rival UNP seems to have
accepted this reality at least unofficially. In this
context, the question arises as to why the government is
putting in so much of effort to win the Southern PC
election. The answer is obvious. A sweeping victory in the
South will lay the foundation for President Rajapaksa’s
victory at the Presidential poll.
West continues to vilify government
While the attention of the people in Sri Lanka is
focussed on the coming elections, certain countries in the
West are relentlessly pursuing their anti-Sri Lanka agenda.
They are planning various measures against the country
articulating the hackneyed allegation that the government
has been violating human rights. According to media reports,
the USA, UK, EU, and Norway and Germany and certain UN
officials are engaged in activity designed to institute
punitive measures against Sri Lanka. For example, US
Secretary of State Hilary Clinton had charged Sri Lanka had
used the rape of women as a weapon in its war on the LTTE.
Defence Secretary Gotabhaya Rajapaksa has vehemently refuted
The Western countries poised to attack Sri Lanka, are
intently watching the outcome of the Southern PC election to
ascertain whether the popularity of the government is intact
or whether it is on the wane. People in the South are sure
to send a clear message to them on October 10. However, the
government did not want to take the election victory for
granted as it is obviously determined to show the West that
the people are fully behind it.
The decimation of the LTTE terrorism which had plagued
the country for 30 years is an achievement which would
remain ever green in the memory of the people in the South.
The UPFA’s victory in the South would be a tribute paid to
President Rajapaksa by a grateful people in the South.
`Manapa-pore’ - A negative factor
The government has aimed at a vote exceeding 75 percent
in the South. If the percentage of the vote for the UPFA
fell short of expectations, it would be certainly due to the
`manapa-pore’ – undignified scramble for preference votes -
among the party’s candidates.
The district where the ‘manapa-pore’ is intense is Galle.
The candidates in the forefront in this scramble there, are
controversial figure Nishantha Muthuhettigama, Sajin Vass
Gunawardena and Randima Gamage, son of Minister Piyasena
Gamage. Nominating Sajin Vass and Anarkali as UPFA
candidates has caused the wrath of Muthuhettigama. His
reaction to these candidates being in the fray eroding his
preferential vote base led to his being arraigned and
remanded. He has, nevertheless, attracted the attention of
the people in Galle by the controversial statements he had
been making to media. An embarrassed Anarakali, the butt of
Muttuhettigama’s barbed remarks, is no loser anyway, having
won the sympathy of the people, according to reports
Minister Piyasena Gamage’s son Randima has monopolised
the UPFA poster campaign in Hiniduma area, charge his fellow
candidates. No sooner a poster of another candidate is
pasted at a public place than would a poster of Randima be
pasted over it, they say. The allegation of covering posters
pasted by other candidates in similar manner is made against
Sajin Vass Gunawardena too. Meanwhile, there is an
allegation against Minister Piyasena Gamage that he has been
telling people to cast their preferential vote only for his
son Randima and abstain from marking the other two
preferences. Apprised of this situation, President Rajapaksa
had made it a point to instruct the party candidates to tell
their voters to cast their three preferences to three
candidates. However, this Presidential directive is not
observed in the Hiniduma electorate, say the UPFA
Opposition leader pitches into election campaign
Up to the beginning of last week, the UNP’s election
campaign had been confined to pocket meetings, media
briefings and house to house canvassing. UNP leader Ranil
Wickremesinghe was conspicuous by his absence at propaganda
meetings. Among the UNP front-liners who were busy on the
campaign trail were Tissa Attanayake, Karu Jayasuriya,
Dayasiri Jayasekera, Lakshman Seneviratne and Sajith
Premadasa. The UNP leader pitched into the party campaign
for the first time addressing a propaganda rally in
Hambantota on September 31. At this rally he repeated a
gaffe he committed while addressing a party propaganda rally
in the run up to the Uva PC election. At the Badulla rally
he created a stir by referring to a wrong date as the date
of election. At Hambantota he referred to the election date
as October 18. Wickremesinghe is expected to address a
series of UNP rallies in the South up to October 6.
JVP at the receiving end of election violence
The JVP is carrying out it electioneering in Galle,
Matara and Hambantota districts in the teeth of violence
unleashed on their candidates and supporters by UPFA
supporters. They have already made a number of complaints to
the Police about attacks on party supporters and election
Officials of the Road Development Authority (RDA) have
filed a case against the JVP candidates in Hambantota
charging them with having caused damage to the RDA property.
The candidates who appeared in Tangalle Magistrate courts
were enlarged on bail. The offence they had committed was
painting the `Bell’ symbol on roads. The UPFA, and UNP
candidates too have daubed their party symbols, `the betel
leaf’’ and `the elephant’ on roads. There are no reports
that the RDA had taken action to prosecute them as well for
committing the same offence. An aggrieved JVP filed a FR
violation petition in this connection in Supreme Court last
A controversy over an UPFA Muslim candidate
Muslim people in Galle and its outskirts have made an
issue of an UPFA Muslim candidate over his religious sect. A
section of Muslims has objected to his candidature saying
that he belongs to a certain Islamic sect. The candidate at
the centre of this controversy is Galle Deputy Mayor Fauzul
Niyas. Niyas who crossed over from the UNP to the SLFP was
later elected to the Galle Municipal Council. Deputy
Minister Lionel Premasiri and former Galle Mayor Kelum
Seneviratne are reportedly backing his candidature
President Rajapaksa visited Galle on September 27 to resolve
the impending crisis. The President who met the Muslim
leaders in Galle at the official residence of the Southern
province governor recounted the service that his government
rendered to the Muslim community.
“At a time when the government is facing threats from the
international sources, the Muslims must close their ranks to
support this government. I appeal to you to sink all your
differences to ensure the victory of the government,” the
President told them.
Ministers M.H. Mohamed, Piyasena Gamage, Rohitha
Abeygunawardena, Deputy Minister Lionel Premasiri, Western
Province Governor Alavi Mowlana, Parliamentarian Chandima
Weerakkkody, Presidential Advisor A. H. M. Azwer and
Southern Province Governor Kumari Balasuriya were also
associated with the President at this meeting.
UNP derives new vigour from Janabala Samuluwa
The leaders of the constituent parties of the proposed
Joint Opposition Alliance Ranil Wickremesinghe, Mangala
Samaraweera and Mano Ganesan are reportedly quite elated
over the success of the `Janabalasena Samuluwa of the UNP
held at the Viharamahadevi Park last Sunday. Fresh from the
political event that imbued them with a sense of euphoria,
the leaders have now decided to sign the alliance pact on
October 10 itself.
However, Wickremesinghe has yet to obtain the formal
approval of the party’s Working Committee for the Dasaraja
Pratipattiya (Charter on Tenfold-Principles for Good
Governance) which is the policy document of the proposed
alliance. Therefore, party’s General Secretary Tissa
Attanayake has called a meeting of the Working Committee to
be held on October 5 Monday for this purpose.
Both Ranil and Mangala have agreed that they should lose
no time in forming the alliance given the success of the
Janabalasena Samuluwa and the imminent possibility of the
Presidential election date being announced.
According to the usual procedure, proposal on the Joint
Opposition Alliance has to be presented to the Working
Committee after being duly approved by the Political Affairs
Committee. However, Ranil Wickremesinghe has decided to
present the alliance proposal to the Working Committee
direct, bypassing the Political Affairs Committee because he
commands the support of the majority there, a senior UNP
The party rebels like Johnston Fernando, Lakshman
Seneviratne, Talata Atukorale, and Dr. Jayalath Jayawardena
constitute the majority of the Political Affairs Committee
which is headed by Karu Jayasuriya.
Ranil to bypass Political Affairs Committee
Meanwhile, the Working Committee is expected to approve
the proposal to replace the `elephant’ with a common symbol.
The Working Committee and the Political Committee had
earlier given its nod for establishing a common consensus
with the opposition parties but had tabooed the jettisoning
of the party symbol `elephant’ in favour of a common symbol.
The issues relating to the party symbol and the proposed
Joint Opposition Alliance are expected to generate some heat
at the Political Affairs Committee scheduled for Wednesday.
Appointment of new party organisers
UNP leader Wickremesinghe has decided to appoint new
party organisers for Kotte and Colombo North. The current
Kotte organiser Ravi Karunanayake is to be shifted to
Colombo North electoral division.
However, appointing an organiser for Kotte to replace Ravi
has set a poser to the UNP leader. Both Wijedasa Rajapaksa
and Shiral Laktillake are vying for Kotte. The UNP leader
had initially decided to appoint Wijedasa Rajapaksa for
Maharagama, but the latter had declined saying that
Maharagama is a left stronghold and asked for Kotte. Shiral,
a well known NGO activist also had staked a claim for Kotte.
Ranil is in a very comfortable situation as he has no heart
to disappoint Shiral who is very close to him, say the UNP
Less than 3,000 had attended Janabalameheyum Samuluwa
Contrary to the claim made by UNP leaders that the last
Sunday’s convention at the Viharamahadevi Park Open Air
Theatre was a great success, it has transpired that of over
10,000 secretaries of the party’s Polling Station Committees
summoned for the big event, only than 3,000 had turned up. A
large number of party organisers too were conspicuous by
their absence. Most participants were party supporters who
had come from the city and its outskirts like Kaduwela.
Ranil Wickremesinghe has appointed a committee headed by
Karu Jayasuriya to take disciplinary action against the
truant party organisers and polling station agents. The
other members of the committee are Gamini Jayawickrama
Perera, Lakshman Seneviratne and Ravi Karunanayake.