The local government elections of February 10 are over. The Sri Lanka Podujana Peramuna (SLPP) led by former president Mahinda Rajapaksa won while the parties in the government lost.
But the lessons of the election result, appear to have bypassed our power-hungry politicians. According to media reports, Ministers and Members of Parliament now in the governing party are said to be preparing to switch political affiliations to the former president. Members of the joint opposition are urging President Maithripala Sirisena, who clipped his own powers via the 19th Amendment to the Constitution, to call for the Prime Minister’s resignation.
There was much ado over the results of a local government election.
The results at local government elections are shaped by national politics, and the results of the recently concluded LG elections, reinforced this truth -- with a near total rejection of the performance of the plethora of political parties and personalities who came together in the aftermath of the August 2015 general elections to form a so-called government of ‘national unity’ based on the principles of ‘good governance’.
Unfortunately the only thread uniting the politicians and individuals, who came together to form the coalition government -- some of whom who even failed to get elected -- was the common aim of clinging on to positions of power by any means whatsoever.
With the elections over, principles and election promises were conveniently forgotten. Among them were that of exposing major financial crimes, bringing to book politicians who stood accused of committing these crimes, prosecution of persons for attacks on minority communities, attacks on political opponents, killing of journalists and the elimination of persons on the basis of personal grudges and bringing down the cost of living. These promises are still to be fulfilled.
In the eyes of the people the government had failed and failed miserably. The local government election results are in fact a literal kick up the government’s behind not only for failing to tackle corruption, but also falling prey to the same.
In the North and East, the Tamil and Muslim people had a message for their political parties in power --the TNA and the SLMC.
The people are no longer ready to accept political quibbling. Economic development has been too slow. A few political leaders were also discarded
Yet, today events are ‘getting curious and curiouser’. Rather than seeing the local government elections for what it is -a wake up call to those in governance to change direction- some are attempting to portray the result as a mandate for regime change.
In the North and East the Tamil and Muslim people showed they are getting tired of the outdated isolationist politics by voting across the political divide and voting for the UNP, SLPP and the SLFP at least to some extent. But the TNA and the Muslim parties continued to maintain their traditional dominance.
The election results also revealed that the former president and opposition strongman was still nursing his anger with President Sirisena when in the initial euphoria of the LG election victory he crowed ‘over the defeat of those who ate hoppers.
The ex-president should take note that he is yet to gain the confidence of the minority communities and the fact that he could do worse if he continued in the same vein. The message to the government is also equally clear - get your act together or face the wrath of the people at the next hustings.