@

 
   
   
   
   
   
HOME
NEWS  
NEWS FEATURES  
INTERVIEWS  
POLITICAL COLUMN  
THIS IS MY NATION  
MILITARY MATTERS  
EDITORIAL  
SPORTS  
CARTOON  
BUSINESS  
EYE - FEATURES  
LETTERS  
EVENTS  
SOUL - YOUTH MAG  
KIDS - NATION  
ENTERTAINMENT  
NATION WORLD  
NATION 2  
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   

 

  Politics  


 

 
Southern PC Polls outcome no set-back for Government
Opposition parties look for consolation in defeat

The UPFA last week gained another resounding poll victory recording a two thirds majority at the Southern PC elections.
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 election.

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.

UPFA 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

Downfall

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 government voters.

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 their preferences.

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 in Hambantota.

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.

Outcome

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.”

Expire

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 sources.
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 sources said.