Minority parties prepare to canvass votes in North and East

27 February 2020 09:49 am - 0     - {{hitsCtrl.values.hits}}

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Its electoral strategy is clear in the districts outside the North and the East

NE electorates will not tilt towards the government at the general elections no matter what

Sri Lanka Podujana Peramuna (SLPP) teamed up with Sri Lanka Freedom Party (SLFP) and formed Sri Lanka Nidahas Podujana Sandhanaya in view of the upcoming parliamentary elections. Its electoral strategy is clear in the districts outside the North and the East. They will stick together along with the other small allies in these areas.   


However, the two parties are now considering different approaches to contest the elections in the North and the East where demographic patterns are different due to the concentration of Tamils and Muslims.   

 

The EPDP and the TMVP - will strategise accordingly to maximise their lot in the North and the East as allies of the government. Basic discussions have been conducted in this regard. The SLPP/ SLFP will allow them to call the shots in the North and the East on its behalf

 


The party fared badly in the two provinces at the last Presidential Elections. The amount of votes polled by President Gotabaya Rajapaksa in these two provinces was minuscule. That his campaign strategists and managers have got to think afresh in view of the General Elections as far as these two provinces are concerned, is politically understandable.   


Now the new alliance is planning to add five more parties, and three of them - Eelam People’s Democratic Party (EPDP), the National Congress and the Tamil Makkal Viduthalai Pulihal (TMVP) were active only in these two areas. EPDP is active both in the North and the East, but it is more visible in the Jaffna District. However, the TMVP led by former chief minister Sivanesathurai Chandrakanthan, who is now in remand prison, and the National Congress led by former minister M.L.A.M. Athaullah, are mere regional parties with their political activities concentrated in certain electoral pockets of the Eastern Province.   

 

The TNA and the other Tamil parties which are opposed to the government, there is a rallying point this time. That is, that the government announced its withdrawal from its co-sponsorship of UNHRC resolutions 30/1 and 40/1


At the General Election, the SLPP/SLFP alliance will ensure a free hand for these partners to participate in the elections in line with their respective political identities built over time.   
These small parties are now in touch with each other to work out their electoral strategies in consultation with the SLPP/SLFP alliance to contest the elections in the North and the East. Voters in the North and the East cast their ballots en bloc against President Gotabaya Rajapaksa.   


There is no major post-election development that encourages these voters to conduct themselves differently in favour of the new government. But the parliamentary election is something different, where voters will behave in a manner that is different to that of the presidential election. Northern and Eastern electorates will obviously not tilt towards the government at the general elections no matter what. But, the voters who gathered under one umbrella against a particular candidate at the Presidential Elections will be split among a few different parties active in the North and the East. The EPDP and the TMVP stood for President Rajapaksa as a then presidential candidate, but the number of votes delivered by them was marginal, if not negligible.   


The Tamil National Alliance (TNA), as the most powerful political force in the North and the Tamil majority areas of the East was successful in ensuring virtually the entire vote base for Opposition Leader Sajith Premadasa.


At the General Elections, this is not going to be the case. The TNA itself will canvass votes for parliamentary representation. Besides, two other parties - the Tamil Makkal Kooteny led by former Chief Minister C.V. Wigneswaran and All Ceylon Tamil Congress led by former MP Gajan Kumar Ponnambalam - will make inroads, at least in a small way, into the traditional vote base of the TNA.   


The Tamil parties - the EPDP and the TMVP - will strategise accordingly to maximise their lot in the North and the East as allies of the government. Basic discussions have been conducted in this regard. The SLPP/ SLFP will allow them to call the shots in the North and the East on its behalf.   


For the TNA and the other Tamil parties which are opposed to the government, there is a rallying point this time. That is, that the government announced its withdrawal from its co-sponsorship of UNHRC resolutions 30/1 and 40/1. This will be a topic the TNA can cash in on for electoral advantage this time in the North and the East. It will activate the Tamil diaspora afresh, enabling the TNA to score points ahead of the elections.   


The EPDP and the TMVP will have to campaign against such a platform which is favourable to the TNA. Instead, they will campaign on the pledges that they will deliver dividends to the people in terms of development by cooperating with the incumbent government.   

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