In a response to the election results, Chief Government Whip and Senior Minister, Dinesh Gunawardane said the people had once again endorsed the government’s programmes by giving a thumping majority in the Central and North western provinces.
Though the government was defeated in the North, he said it was a victory for democracy.
“After 25 years, an election was held in the North. It is a victory for democracy. The parties got an opportunity to be involved in electoral politics instead of armed struggles for separatist agenda. Therefore, we consider it a victory for all,” he said.
The Minister said the election was conducted in the North without major incidents of violence despite attempts by various reactionary forces to tarnish the image of the country.
- By Kelum Bandara
United National Party (UNP) Vice President Lakshman Kiriella, commenting on the election outcome, said the results had spoken clearly, and the party should interpret the message correctly for the future course of action in politics.
He said the party should have the courage to do it for future progress. Besides, referring to the Tamil National Alliance (TNA)’s victory, the UNP MP said: “Sri Lanka should also develop a culture of different parties controlling provincial councils, instead of keeping them in the hands of the central government.
“India has such a political culture. Most state governments are controlled by parties other than the Congress Party, which holds sway in the centre. It is better for us to have a similar political culture in the greater interests of the democratic process,” he said.
Mr. Kiriella said, “In India, Gujarat was governed by Narendra Modi of the BJP. Tamil Nadu is controlled by another different party. The province based parties should have their share in governing local affairs. We have to promote this political culture for the good of democratic system.
Elated by the victory, the TNA called it a resounding and unprecedented victory. TNA National List MP M. A. Sumanthiran said it was unprecedented in the political history of Sri Lanka that a party won more than 80 percent of seats. He said this huge victory was achieved despite the proportional representation system, various forms of threats, intimidation and illegal inducements by the government.
“That electoral verdict of the people must be respected by the government. There is a clear message that people want to live in a united and undivided country, but with greater devolution. There are two stages for the government to act. First, it should allow the Northern Provincial Council to function, using the powers it has under the 13th Amendment. The next is to initiate a dialogue with it for meaningful devolution of power,” he said.
Asked about the government’s victory in the other two provinces, he said the Sinhalese people had picked the ruling party whereas the Tamil people had picked the TNA.
“Yet, we can still live together in this country without one community dominating the other,” he said.
The TNA polled even more than 80 percent of votes from the north, securing 30 seats in the 38- member council. The party won more than 84 percent of the votes in Jaffna, 81 percent in Kilinochchi, the capital of the de-facto state run by the LTTE before 2009, and 78 percent in Mullaitivu, the LTTE was finally defeated. The party even won the electorate covering the Kayts Island considered the stronghold of the government’s ally the Eelam People’s Democratic Party (EPDP). Disappearances, heavy military presence, land grabbing were among the main charges made by the TNA against the government during the campaign. The TNA candidate Anandi Sashidaran even sought a mandate from the people to work for justice for the families of those who disappeared during the war. She even put up newspaper advertisements saying Tamil people sacrificed their lives not for development, but for liberation.
Former Army Commander and Presidential candidate Sarath Fonseka’s Democratic Party which contested the Central and North Western Provincial Council elections has won five seats to emerge as the third force in Sri Lankan politics. Fonseka, whose party contested with fresh faces in politics said that the provincial elections was a set back for both the ruling UPFA and main opposition party UNP while his party--though it had meagre resources and little media backing--emerged as the third political force in the country.
“We formed a new voter base as a new party while the number of votes had fallen in both the government and the UNP,” Mr.Fonseka said.
Compared to the last Provincial Election, the UNP had lost two seats in the North Western Province while we have won three and in the Central province lost two seats and we have won two seats, Fonseka said.
“This happened while about 50 percent of the voters stayed away from voting,” he said. “People have lost faith in the government and they are dissatisfied with the present political culture,” the former army Commander said. He said his party had become the third force but it would be difficult to help the people unless it became the second political force in the country specially at a time the UNP was gradually losing its voter base.
“We have to form a new powerful force,” he said. He also said that all his candidates were free from corruptions and he would not allow any corrupt politician to join his party.
“Like candidates from other political parties, our canidadates did not seek votes for their own welfare. What we want is the people’s welfare,” Mr. Fonseka said.
He said his party was given little publicity by the media.
- By Susitha R. Fernando
“The outcome of the elections in the North Western and the Central was not a victory for the people, but a victory for politicians, their sons, uncles and wives,” JVP frontliner, Vijitha Herath said.
“It is a mandate given by the people to the government to continue the intimidation of the free media, breakdown of the rule of law, continue its dictatorial regime and the increase of bus fare, prices of gas and electricity and the cost of living,” the MP said.
He said the election results did not reflect the real anti-government views as the government manipulated the voters using state resources, human resources, buying the voters and threats and intimidations.
“The voters were bought over by distributing sarees and mobile phones. And the contestants were sons and relatives of ruling party ministers. These minister fathers with their powers and resources helped their sons’ election campaigns”.
“In the North the government threatened the people if they vote for any other party other than the UPFA the development would be hampered,” he said.
Questioned about the JVP losing its position as the third political force in the country, Mr. Herath said that his party never campaigned or contested for the third place. “We always stand as an alternative force in Sri Lanka’s political system and we continue to do so”.
He said that just as the party had not won any extra seats it had not lost anything. “We did not win any extra seats or lose any seats compared to the last election”.
He also complained that Tamil National Alliance was able to get a landslide victory because of the government’s irresponsible behavour. “The Tamil people were pushed to extremes because the government violated their basic rights. As a result the TNA was able to win more than three forth of the seats and might pushed for a separation” he said.
“What we need is not a separation but a solution based on communal harmony” said Mr Herathrgued.
He also said that there is a huge challenge for the government with TNA’s victory of the election.