The UPFA last week gained another resounding poll victory
recording a two thirds majority at the Southern PC
The UPFA won 38 seats in the 55-member Council, up from the
34 the party mustered at the 2004 elections. The UNP has won
14 seats, down from the 19 it held in the previous Council.
Meanwhile, the JVP’s 14 seats held in the previous Council
has dropped to a sorry 3 seats at this election. However,
the percentage of the total vote polled by the UPFA with the
JVP in 2004 which was 70, has come down to 67.88 at this
Five lakhs of registered voters in the province have not
cast their ballot at this election which works out to 30
percent of the total electorate. The Ministers like Nimal
Siripala de Silva and Dulles Alahapperuma predicted that the
UPFA would record an 80 percent of the vote. Some other
government politicians had claimed that the UPFA would
muster a vote as high as 90 percent. The fact that some
government politicians made these claims by way of giving a
moral boost to party activists and supporters is quite
obvious .However, it appears that both the UNP and the JVP
are now using these claims as a smokescreen to cover up
their own poor showing at the polls.
strengthens vote base
The UNP leaders
gloating over the drop in the UPFA vote percentage,
have to remember that the 36 percent vote they
mustered at the 2004 election has come down to 27
percent at this election. Their vote in Matara has
come down from 28 percent in 2004 to 25 percent at
this election. Their dismal performance has
continued in Hambantota as well where they have
recorded a 21 percent vote, down from 27 percent
registered in 2004.
On the contrary, the UPFA has strengthened its vote
base by an increase of 115,715 votes in Galle, 75,
034 votes in Matara and 51, 687 votes in Hambantota
Referring to the UPFA’s vote percentage of 67.88 recorded
at the recent polls, down from the 70 percent they
registered in 2004, UNP General Secretary Tissa Attanayake
claimed that this decrease marks the beginning of the
government’s downfall. He had argued that the reduced vote
is an indication that the Government has grown unpopular.
Even the JVP which saw the drop of their seats from 14 to
3 at this election, is not prepared to concede their defeat.
According to the party General Secretary Tilvin Silva, the
elections results are a pointer to the onset of the UPFA’s
decline and a portent for their political future.
The UNP and the JVP have begun resorting to propaganda
gimmicks to cover up their setbacks.
Why 5 lakhs did not vote
Five lakhs of voters not casting their vote is, no doubt,
a serious matter on the face of it. Here, we have to
remember that a large of number of people from the South are
employed in the city and other outstations. For example,
young men women from Hambantota, Galle and Matara account
for a sizable segment of the workforce employed in garment
factories and other industries in Katunayake and Biyagama
economic zones. Milling crowds bound for destinations in the
South, which one would invariably witness at the Colombo
Fort railway station and the Colombo Central Bus stand on
the eve of the Sinhala/Hindu New Year bear eloquent
testimony to this fact.
Thousands of these Southern workers from both the state
and private sectors would make it a point to get back home
on time to cast their vote at a national election which
could be decisive for the country’s future. But one cannot
expect these people to attach the same degree of importance
to a PC election. After all the outcome of a PC election
would not change a government. Besides, the victory of the
government coalition was a foregone conclusion and they
could hardly alter the outcome. It is no secret that the UNP
and the JVP entered the fray not to win but to save face.
Given this situation most Southerners employed in Colombo
and elsewhere did not see the need to vote at this election,
spending money and time and undergoing much inconvenience as
an absolute necessity. Both government and UNP supporters
may have possibly thought that whether they voted or not the
government was going to win the election. Similar thinking
could have influenced pro-JVP Southerners as well.
The Southerners employed outstation alone do not account
for all those who failed to vote at this election. A large
number of Southerners are employed abroad. There could have
been many voters who had been either dead or seriously ill.
Therefore, it makes no sense when one asserts that the five
lakhs of voters who failed to vote are disenchanted
Voters’ lukewarm attitude
People take an interest in an election only when there is
a neck-to-neck fight between two parties. Heated verbal
exchanges and clashes between rival parties also generate
enthusiasm among people. However, there were hardly any
incidents arising from rivalry between the two main parties
in the run up to this election. The UNP’s lackluster
electioneering too contributed towards people losing
interest in the election. Despite the absence of inter-party
clashes, the UPFA campaign was marred by intra-party rivalry
which at times took a violent turn. The culprits were mostly
those engaged in `manape pore’. Some voters who were
disgusted over the unbecoming conduct of some UPFA had
candidates had voted for the Betel leaf without marking
Nishantha Mutuhettigama by his conduct caused some damage
to the UPFA’s election campaign. Anarkali got a sympathy
vote from the people in Galle, thanks to attacks on her
election offices and insults hurled at her by Mutuhettigama.
UPFA’s showing in Hambantota
However, the government cannot be happy over its showing
in Hambantota. It has already launched a series of mega
development projects such as the Hambantota harbour, Mattaka
international airport, Hambantota new town and the
Secretariat complex. Once the most backward district in the
island, Hambantota is fast becoming the second capital city
in the country. And only five months have passed since
decimating the LTTE and destroying its ruthless leaders
Prabhakaran and Pottu Amman. Given this backdrop the
government cannot be complacent over the vote that the UPFA
has polled in Hambantota.
The main reason for the Hambantota vote falling short of
expectations is the government’s lackadaisical election
campaign in this district. The government could have easily
increased its vote percentage in Hambantota had it given a
little weight to its campaign there. Some ministers who had
been in charge of the UPFA campaign in certain areas in
Hambantota, are said to have disappeared from the scene
after briefly showing up in the areas assigned to them. They
appear to have taken the victory for granted.
UNP has no reason to rejoice
The UNP leaders gloating over the drop in the UPFA vote
percentage, have to remember that the 36 percent vote they
mustered at the 2004 election has come down to 27 percent at
this election. Their vote in Matara has come down from 28
percent in 2004 to 25 percent at this election. Their dismal
performance has continued in Hambantota as well where they
have recorded a 21 percent vote, down from 27 percent
registered in 2004.
On the contrary, the UPFA has strengthened its vote base by
an increase of 115,715 votes in Galle, 75, 034 votes in
Matara and 51, 687 votes in Hambantota.
The UNP, however, has increased it vote base by an increase
only 1007 votes in Galle, 116 votes in Matara and 4064 votes
Disappointment for SLMC
Meanwhile, the SLMC which is planning to team up with the
UNP has suffered a bitter defeat in the South. They had
fielded a separate list of candidates at this election and
managed to muster only 6553 votes from the entire district.
There are large concentrations of Muslims in Balapitiya
South, Gintota, Galle, Katugoda, Karapitiya, Weligama,
Matara, Dikwella, Ambalantota and Hambantota. Their vote
appears to have got divided between the two major parties,
the UPFA and the UNP. This shows that even if the SLMC had
contested on the UNP list, it would not have made any
difference in the final result.
The outcome of the Southern PC has fallen short of the
expectations. However, it cannot be interpreted as a setback
suffered by the government. As for the UNP and the JVP,
their vote base eroded in a great measure, which means these
two parties have further distanced from the people.
MSAs from Tamil Nadu visit IPD’s, Vavuniya
A 10-member- group of members of the State Assembly from
Tamil Nadu was here last week to visit the displaced people
in relief camps in Vavuniya. The group led by a senior
member of the DMK party T. R. Balu included Chief Minister
Karunanidhi’s daughter Kanimozhi Karunanidhi and VCK party
leader Thol Tirumavalan.
The group of Tamil Nadu MSAs who were here on a five-day
visit with the concurrence of the New Delhi government were
air-lifted to Vavuniya. Vavuniya Government Agent Ms.
Charles had made arrangements for the visiting state
legislators to inspect the Menik Farm camps. However, the
group leader T. R. Balu said that they wanted to see the
other camps. Thereafter they inspected a number of relief
camps and interacted with the IDPs. The displaced people
venting their grievances told the Tamil Nadu legislators
that they were not receiving essentials such as clothing,
infant milk food, clothing and water adequately.
The Tamil Nadu legislators later went to Hatton on an
invitation by Minister Arumugam Thondaman who hosted the
visitors to dinner at Nuwara-Eliya Grand Hotel.
Parliamentarians meet Indian legislators
Back in Colombo, the Tamil Nadu delegates were hosted to
dinner by the India’s High Commissioner at his official
residence. Among the invitees to this dinner were the
leaders of the UNP, SLMC, JHU and several Tamil parties.
Kanimozhi Karunanidhi had said at this dinner that the
general opinion prevailing in Tamil Nadu about Sri Lanka is
wrong. She had further said that she was satisfied with the
way the IDPs were being looked after in the relief camps and
it was obvious that Basil Rajapaksa was doing a great deal
for the well-being of the displaced people. She added that
the Sri Lankan government had failed so far to convey the
correct picture to the world.
The Tamil Nadu legislators, on the day of their
departure, held talks with Opposition leader Ranil
Wickremesinghe. On this occasion, the Tamil Nadu legislators
were bombarded with questions by media personnel. However,
the visitors refused to answer their questions. Group leader
T.R.Balu told the media that they would submit a report on
their visit to Chief Minister Muthuvel Karunanidhi and would
speak to media after that.
Karunanidhi meets delegates at Chennai
Chief Minister Karunanidhi was at the Chennai airport to
receive the legislators on their return after the five-day
visit to Sri Lanka. He told the media personnel who mobbed
them, that President Mahinda Rajapaksa had assured the Tamil
Nadu delegates that he had made arrangements to re-settle
58,000 of the displaced persons back in their homes within
the next two weeks.
Jeyalalitha Jeyaram’s ADMK, BJP, CP (I), actor Vijayakanth
and several others as well as some Tamil newspapers in India
had found fault with the Tamil Nadu State Assembly members’
visit to Sri Lanka. However, this visit by Tamil Nadu
legislators appears to have assuaged the anti-Sri Lanka
feeling in Tamil Nadu to a great extent.
General Sarath Fonseka in limelight
The name of Defense Chief Staff and former Army Commander
General Fonseka is being mentioned quite often in political
circles these days. The reason for this is the rumour doing
rounds that General Fonseka is to be fielded as the common
opposition candidate at the upcoming presidential election.
Both SLFP (M) leader Mangala Samaraweera and JVP’s trade
union leader Lal Kantha had hinted at this possibility in
public speeches last week.
Addressing a trade union meeting last week, JVP
Parliamentarian Lal Kantha said, “There is a move to field
as a common opposition Presidential candidate an apolitical
highly respected national figure who had accomplished very
specific tasks at different times, and is upholding the law
and discipline while being useful to the country.”
Meanwhile, addressing a media briefing Mangala Samaraweera
said that the United National Alliance is fully endorsing
the statement made by JVP MP Lal Kantha.
A statement made by JVP MP Vijitha Herath at a media
briefing lends credibility to the disclosure made by his
colleague Lal Kantha earlier. He said:” Our party will not
team up with the UNP at an election. However, we might have
to shift over to a novel strategy to meet a certain
situation likely to arise at the Presidential election.”
Certain remarks that General Fonseka made during his
address following a parade of honour accorded to him at the
Army headquarters as the most senior officer in the Army on
October 12, pushed him to centre-stage in politics. General
Fonseka said:” This can be the final occasion I am
addressing the Army personnel after a parade of honour.”
The term of service of General Fonseka is due to expire
by December 17. He, according to reports, is not going to
seek an extension of service. It is in this context, that he
had said that he was making his final address, say Army
General Fonseka’s statement was a godsend for rumour
mongers. The state media gave wings to rumours by blacking
out the former Army Commander’s statement.
According to reliable sources, the real situation is that no
political party or leader has so far held any discussion
with General Fonseka on this matter.
UNA’s Dasa Raja Pratipattiya & Executive Presidency
The Presidential candidate fielded by the Joint Opposition
in the event of winning the election, is required to take
necessary steps to abolish the Executive Presidency within
180 days. This means the winning candidate can remain in
office only for 6 months.
Meanwhile, Media Minister Lakshman Yapa Abeywardena says
that the UNP is now looking for a common opposition
candidate because the party is in such a plight that they
cannot decide on an acceptable party candidate. Ranil
Wickremesinghe himself has betrayed the party’s inability to
find a suitable candidate by participating in the exercise
of looking for a candidate, say some government Ministers.
Meanwhile, the signing of the United National Alliance pact
is to take place either on October 22 or 30, informed