Nationalist Movement activist Gevindu Cumaratunga,
in an interview with the Daily Mirror, analysed the current political situation in the country. He shared the following:-
LG election formula made a serious assault on democracy
People’s verdict is against Yahapalana conspirators
It is a verdict against Govt ridiculing national conscience
How do you rate the recent election results?
Like the British colonial rulers crippled village leadership of our country after the Kandyan rebellion, the present Government undermined the local leadership after assuming office in 2015. The Government delayed the local elections for three years and denied village level political leadership to people. Today, people have elected to office the political activist, the political party that struggled against such denial. Also, people got the opportunity to compare and contrast the three-year rule of this Government with the government of former President Mahinda Rajapaksa. People have overwhelmingly rejected the policies of the current rule. Also, people expressed their firm objection to what this Government intends to do – alienation of national assets, ETCA agreement with India, separatist constitutional reforms etc.
As we see it, this is also a verdict against the Government ridiculing national conscience. In fact, this Government took steps to sing the Buddhist devotional song ‘Danno Budunge’ in opera style, at the Independence Day celebrations. The Prime Minister came out to insult the original version. Then they made a mess of our national anthem. There cannot be a national anthem which is sung after an event and another before the event. For a nation, there cannot be two separate national anthems. In constitutional reform proposals, there were serious assaults on the national identity of this country. The Government pursued the same harmful policy of insulting and harassing war heroes and Buddhist monks.
As in 1956, people have spoken out at this election against these shameful, harmful acts. They have demanded a new leadership, a new path for the country.
"Former President Mahinda Rajapaksa emerged as an iconic figure as he gave leadership to the war against scourge of terrorism that threatened our motherland. He stood up to reactionary forces in certain sections of the international community"
Yet, the Govt maintains that the total amount of votes polled collectively by the political parties that stood together at the last Presidential Election is much higher than the total votes polled by SLPP. How do you view it?
This argument will be valid only if all these forces contested together under one banner. Or if all these parties – UNP, SLFP, UPFA, JVP, and TNA were upholding the actions of the past 3 years, they were asking for a mandate to continue together. As we know, not only did they contest separately SLFP and UPFA led by President and JVP were asking for a mandate against the present Government policies. UNP also was asking for a mandate to form a pure UNP Government. If they contested as a front under a common symbol and asked for the people’s verdict on their performance during the past three years, this argument will hold some water. It did not happen that way.What did the President say? He said the way the economy was handled by the UNP was a total failure. He said people were reeling under the high cost of living. He sought a mandate from the people to change the economic policies. He asked for a mandate to secure national assets. He asked for a mandate to punish Bond thieves. So, the majority of the 13% votes polled by combined SLFP plus UPFA is a protest vote against the policies of this so-called national Government.
We heard JVP Leader Anura Kumara Dissanayake expressing the view that the SLPP failed to poll more than 50%. We ask whether the JVP got votes in favour of selling national assets? Whether they got votes in favour of this government’s economic policies? Whether they got votes in favour of signing of the ETCA with India? If so, the 6% they polled can be considered as an endorsement of the present Government policies. If not, that 6% also has to be considered as a protest vote against this Government. The JVP should spell it out clearly.
SLPP polled 44.6%. The UPFA/SLFP got 13.38%. The JVP 6%. That is a total of 63%. It is a huge percentage against the performance of the Prime Minister. It is a protest vote against the policies of the current Government. It is a protest vote against the so-called National Government. So, the Prime Minister should step down. Party leaders should get together and form a caretaker Government. People should be given an opportunity to form a new Government according to their wishes.
"The constitutional amendments, brought about by this Government, created confusion within confusion in administration. It is an attempt to prevent the formation of a stable Government in Sri Lanka"
Yet, this election is seen merely as something meant for the selection of members for local administration. How do you respond to that argument?
If so, why do they argue about national percentages now? Sri Lanka Podujana Peramuna (SLPP) won more than 70% of local bodies. It is a landslide victory gained after weathering all odds placed in its way by the present rule. Yahapalana pundits should be humble enough to accept the people’s verdict.
At the same time this election cannot be considered only as a Local Government Election. Not only SLPP, UNP, SLFP-UPFA and JVP all parties asked people to exercise their franchise considering national policies; national leadership. We find newspaper advertisements placed by the UNP asking for a mandate based on its performance during the past three years. They said the vote for the UNP is a vote for your future. In this advertisement, nothing is mentioned about matters related to local administration. The SLFP/UPFA also carried out paid advertisements asking for a mandate for the President’s leadership; to punish bond fraudsters; to safeguard national assets. Again, these are matters of national significance. The JVP also teamed up with NGO elements and sought a mandate for a ‘new beginning’; for a turning point of national politics. So all parties, in this manner, asked people to vote considering issues of national significance; national leadership. However, people rejected the policies of all these parties and chose the newly formed SLPP instead. Nobody can deny the fact that this is an election of national significance.
Polls outcome impacted PM’s performence
SLPP emerge victors in more than 70% of the local bodies
TNA polled 339,675 against 515,963 at 2015 Parliamentary elections
Polls outcome a big blow to conspirators against a unitary Sri Lanka
UNP polled 5,098,927 at the 2015 Parliamentary Elections. In this February 10 elections, it polled only 3,625,510. After governing the country for 3 years and Ranil Wickremesinghe being Prime Minister for 3 years, they have lost 1,473, 417 votes! SLFP-UPFA led by President Sirisena polled 4,732,669 at the 2015 Parliamentary Elections. In this February 10 elections SLFP-UPFA collectively polled 1,487,960 only. So under the President’s leadership SLFP-UPFA has lost 3,244,709 votes! Shouldn’t the President, Prime Minister and their collective Government resign? Not only should they resign from public office, they should resign from the leaderships of the respective parties. 515,963 votes at the 2015 Parliamentary elections. The TNA has also lost a lot of votes. They polled 515,963 votes at the 2015 Parliamentary elections. This February 10th they polled only 339,675. They have lost 176,228 votes. One of my Tamil friends told me that the votes they received this time represented the correct figure; the amount they have lost – which is more than one hundred and seventy five thousand was the amount they rigged (‘hora chanda’) at the 2015 parliamentary elections! Explanation is due from the TNA leadership, who is shamelessly holding on to the Opposition leader’s post.
"UNP polled 5,098,927 at the 2015 Parliamentary Elections. In this February 10 elections, it polled only 3,625,510. After governing the country for 3 years and Ranil Wickremesinghe being Prime Minister for 3 years, they have lost 1,473, 417 votes!"
You work against the Constitution making process of this Government. The Government has been defeated at the local elections, so, do you think it is a blow to the constitution making process as well?
It’s a blow to the conspirators against a unitary Sri Lanka. It’s a victory for the Motherland.
The Government was taking many steps that were disastrous to the country. People have spoken out clearly against them. We wonder whether the Government would shelve such harmful measures now after the electoral defeat or proceed with them hoodwinking the masses. This week, the Government started the latest round of talks on ETCA to finalize the process. Where are the champions of good governance? Where are the NGO pundits who teach us about governing according to people’s wishes? Where are the Western ambassadors who are ever willing to teach us about the value of democracy?
We regret to see some Buddhist monks even belittling the significance of this election and asking the President and the Prime Minister to proceed as usual.Ever in the history, this is the first time people voted against the Government at a local poll. The religious dignitaries, especially Buddhist monks, and the intelligentsia should view this election results with due seriousness and prevail upon the rulers to act accordingly. They should ask leaders of this so-called national government to stop their harmful acts immediately. They should ask them to step down and pave the way for General Elections, so that people can choose a new government, new leadership according to their wishes.
Do you see whether the SLPP should have a departure from its past policies?
Former President Mahinda Rajapaksa emerged as an iconic figure as he gave leadership to the war against scourge of terrorism that threatened our motherland. He stood up to reactionary forces in certain sections of the international community. We have to deal with the international community regardless of whatever party is in office. People hold him in high esteem over his action to protect sovereignty of Sri Lanka. He also appeared for the protection of Sri Lanka’s national assets. In business, some make profits, some make losses. Then you have to face criticism. Yet, the Rajapaksa administration didn’t take the easy option of selling or disowning of national assets.
Driven by westerns attitudes and funding, no one has done a proper study into innovative development works undertaken during the Rajapaksa rule. People always talked about mega development projects. Yet, we have to consider the projects such as Divineguma, Gamaneguma and Maganeguma. There were many local level projects which enabled families with new income avenues, which uplifted the life of the villager. As for the road network, the villages that remained cut-off were linked with the towns and cities. They were opened up from isolation. No one has done proper academic study on these matters. We should proceed with such development work.
We defeated the LTTE under MR’s leadership. Yet, it could not be recognized in the constitution. During his second term, we could not transform our country in line with this great victory. That’s what the SLPP should thrive to achieve.
"Government delayed the local elections for three years and denied village level political leadership to people. Today, people have elected to office the political activist, the political party that struggled against such denial"
As the professional front/national front linked with SLPP, what do you plan to do to topple this Government?
First, the Prime Minister and Government should resign. We need a parliamentary election without any delay.
The constitutional amendments, brought about by this Government, created confusion within confusion in administration. It is an attempt to prevent the formation of a stable Government in Sri Lanka. Not only at the national level, local Government as well as provincial councils have been made a waste by this Government and their backers.
The new electoral system, introduced under the leadership of MP Dinesh Gunawardane, was supposed to elect 70% under the ward system and the rest under Proportional Representation.Then, people would have more say in these councils as 70% were chosen directly by them. Also, the councils would have got clear, stable leadership. These Yahapalana racketeers changed it to be 60% for wards and 40% for proportional representation. This new formula introduced by this Government has created confusion. The party that won even eight out of ten wards cannot form a stable administration. With more members elected, with more cost to the people, yet without leadership! Yet, without usefulness!!This is an affront to democracy.
The worst will happen to the provincial councils. For them, thanks to the Yahapalana coalition led by JVP and Muslim Congress tribal leadership, the formula is 50-50. Even if a party wins all the electorates, in some councils it will not get a clear majority. Until it is corrected, there is no use of conducting elections in the provincial councils.
So, we agitate for correcting these Yahapalana sins; for a new parliament; for a new leadership.