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punishing voters for electing rogues

2017-12-22 00:00:53
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Anticipate reports of violence-including murders-related to the elections, in the coming days

Why are people so keen to get nominations for themselves or their relatives, friends and supporters?

Ironically the candidates too know that people know what their intentions and objectives are

Others want to see their party and their favourite candidates winning, but without knowing why

The television channels showed on Monday a man weeping after his name allegedly had been struck off from a nomination paper despite a promise to include him in the list by the Sri Lanka Podujana Peramuna (SLPP) led by former President Mahinda Rajapaksa.


In another incident a woman was seen taken to the Police station by the Police personnel to record a statement, while she was launching a Satyagraha after she too was not given a chance to contest at the forthcoming Local Government elections scheduled to be held on February 10.


In another unfortunate incident a man who had first been dropped from a candidates list of a political party and then been included in the same list had died of the shock he had been subjected to when he was dropped earlier. Media also reported an incident where a group of men had stormed into a house and forcibly taken away a nomination paper that had already been prepared and was ready to be tendered. In a similar incident a United National Party (UNP) local leader is said to have unsuccessfully tried to grab a nomination paper prepared by his party men.


Complaints of letting down aspiring candidates by political parties and conflicts among various political parties over seat sharing are being reported from the north as well as the south these days.
In the north, according to Tamil newspapers, the People’s Liberation Organisation of Tamil Eelam (PLOTE) has decided to withdraw from the election campaign as it had been let down by the Ilankai Thamil Arasu Katchi (ITAK) in seat sharing.


Some people have switched their parties after being disappointed over the non-inclusion of their names or their supporters’ names in the nomination papers.


The Mahajana Eksath Peramuna (MEP) member of the Joint Opposition, Parliamentarian Sriyani Wijewickrama, who joined the Sri Lankan Freedom Party (SLFP) two weeks ago, falls to that category.

People know this by experience. Even a Municipal Councilor does not draw a salary of Rs. 20,000. But most of those who did not own even a bicycle when they were first elected to a Local Government body would be an owner of at least a car, at the end of his tenure


Her supporters have allegedly been ignored by the SLPP leaders in Ampara.
All these stories indicate how much people are keen to contest elections even for the lowest level of the people’s representation bodies - the Municipal Councils, Urban Councils and Pradeshiya Sabhas. 
We can also anticipate reports of violence-including murders-related to the elections, in the coming days.


Why are people so keen to get nominations for themselves or their relatives, friends and supporters?
Those who fight for slots in nomination papers might say that they are so fervent to be at least a member of a Local Government body to serve his or her people.


But the entire country is well aware that it is not their objective. It is public knowledge that they want to serve themselves, and not the people.


People know this by experience. Even a Municipal Councilor does not draw a salary of Rs. 20,000. But most of those who did not own even a bicycle when they were first elected to a Local Government body would be an owner of at least a car, at the end of his tenure.


And ironically the candidates too know that people know what their intentions and objectives are.
Yet, they would keep on bragging on their “dedications” to the people. On the other hand a section of the voters support these politicians with the hope of getting favours, such as jobs, after the latter’s election.


Others want to see their party and their favourite candidates winning, but without knowing why. They want just to be on the winning side.


Therefore, they are not concerned about corruption – whatever the magnitude of it may be - by their party or the candidate they support.


This is the real politics on the ground despite politicians, media and the civil society discussing serious issues such as democracy, corruption-free society and good governance.


No party has any development plan or strategy for the country or for the locality they represent. No such plans or strategies are being discussed within any party.


Party committees at their highest as well

as grass root level discuss only the strategies for the victory of the party and certain individuals.
Thus, the discussion on the oncoming election has turned out to be one about rejecting rogues and thieves and not about electing people capable of developing the area concerned.


The debate is about what not to do and not what to do by the politicians. As a Tamil saying goes, people do not beg for alms but to hold the dog back (Pitchchai Vendaam, Naayai Pidi) .
Against this backdrop another debate over the importance of the candidate (and the party) is also developing with some people arguing that the voters have to consider the merits of the candidate, irrespective of the party he has been fielded by.


In a recent TV debate Deputy Minister Ajith P. Perera representing the UNP argued that people must consider the candidate over the party he represents, while Janatha Vimukthi Peramuna (JVP) MP Sunil Handunnetti contending the other way around. In the north Chief Minister C.V.Wigneswaran is campaigning for the merits of individual candidates while Tamil National Alliance (TNA) Parliamentarian M.A. Sumanthiran is arguing in favour of the party over the candidate.
The Executive Director of the People’s Action for Free and Fair Election (PAFFREL), Rohana Hettiarachchi also during a media meet this week had requested the voters to consider the merits of the candidate.


All these are contextual arguments. Perera seems to be unable to give an assurance on the genuineness of his party, especially in the light of the recent revelations during the Presidential Commission on Central Bank bond transactions, whereas Handunnetti was prepared to give an assurance in respect of his party.


Wigneswaran is in favour of merit of individual candidates as he can neither campaign for the TNA nor the rival TULF led alliance in the north, whereas Sumanthiran campaigns for his party, the TNA.
Deputy Minister Perera during the same debate countered his own argument by contending that areas under the Local Government bodies could be developed only by entrusting those bodies to the ruling party of the Central Government. Apart from this contradiction, this is in fact an undue influence and a veiled threat on the voter, as made by other ruling parties as well in the past, since he implies that the government would not provide funds for the local authorities run by the Opposition. This is not good governance, Mr. Perera or any other politician can argue in this way only when they are in power.
This is a manifestation of the mindset to win elections by hook or by crook.


It is against this backdrop one has to look into the suggestion by Deputy Elections Commissioner M.M. Mohamed to impose a fine on voters, who do not vote at elections, as in some other countries.
He had stated, according to Tamil media that the State has to waste a huge amount of money when less people tend to vote at elections, while the Elections Commission makes arrangements for all registered voters to vote.


If in fact there is a plummeting trend in voting one might blame the politicians for the frustration among the voters.


However, it is the voters who elect the rogue politicians to office and it is they, who must ultimately be blamed for what has befallen them.


  Comments - 1

  • Kadiya Friday, 22 December 2017 07:30

    Most unfair because many good people become rogues after being elected to office!

    Reply : 0       3

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