Elections Commission (EC) Chairman Mahinda Deshapriya commenting on the election expenses said he was worried that it was possible that the total cost of the 2019 presidential poll could reach Rs. 7.5 billion and lawmakers must think of a strategy to prevent pseudo or fake candidates with ulterior motives contesting the presidential election.
“Until the election concludes, the Treasury issues the EC with any amount of funds. We get money from the Treasury immediately as and when we make a request. But after the election, it is a different story. In many instances it is ‘Balagiridosaya’ - ‘not today but tomorrow after the election,” Mr. Deshapriya said in a lighter vein.
On the difficulty faced by the EC in recruiting public servants for election duty, Mr. Deshapriya said he felt that almost all public servants were sick.
“It seems they are not suffering only from HIV / AIDS and rabies. They say they have all other diseases under the sun to skip election duty. Male teachers are worse. I can understand if there is a genuine difficulty to undertake election duty like having an infant or being seriously ill. However, there are extremely dedicated officers. They are devoted to their work when reporting for election duty,” Mr. Deshapriya said
While expressing his pleasure and relief over the sharp drop in incidences of election-related violence such as shooting, bombing, murders and arson attacks, Mr. Deshapriya said the credit must go to voters, political parties and politicians.
“I haven’t heard or received complaints on harming of even a nail of anyone during this election campaign,” he said.
While appealing from all concerned to refrain from the promotion of candidates or engaging in propaganda from 12.00 midnight on Wednesday upto election day on Saturday, Mr. Deshapriya said private tuition masters and Buddhist monks also had campaigned for candidates in a very low and indecent manner promoting their candidates during lectures and sermons respectively.
“I want to see all cut outs, hoardings, posters, floats, banners, propaganda offices and billboards of candidates removed by Thursday morning,” he said. .
“I have got complaints that tuition masters have told students to ask their parents to vote for a particular candidate and monks have used their sermons, poojas and other religious acts as propaganda tools to promote their candidates. This is extremely disturbing and unhealthy,” he emphasised.
The peaceful, free and fair atmosphere is the collective efforts of the EC, candidates, police and in particular the peace-loving public, he added.
Elections-related interviews, talk shows, news, teledramas or any other programme promoting candidates are completely banned from Wednesday midnight. (Sandun A Jayasekera)