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ECCENTRIC ELECTIONEERING: WHY ONLY A RAJAPAKSA? - PART ONE

21 March 2019 12:25 am - 0     - {{hitsCtrl.values.hits}}

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Mahinda Rajapaksa [MR] after winning the Presidential Elections won the General Elections and went on to win the PCs scheduled on a winnable sequence

 

Winning the first in serial elections is imperative;  more valued than a singular triumph of an electorate, district or province. Win the first leg, by hook or by crook. If more elections are in the
offing win the safer one.  A strong party combine is in the making or an existing party combine has become a political force to be reckoned with. Such a candidate or party, on obtaining an overall majority, can govern without hitching on to another. Coalitions just won’t work.
Let me provide a few illustrations from past elections to establish the front proposition:
[A] Chandrika Kumaratunga became the Chief Minister and then won both the Presidential and General Elections comfortably.
[B] Mahinda Rajapaksa [MR] after winning the Presidential Elections won the General Elections and went on to win the PCs scheduled on a winnable sequence.
[C] By a miscalculation or by inadvertence, MR held last the PC elections in Uva months prior to the Presidential elections and lost it narrowly. At the Presidential elections MR lost the Uva PCs heavily and went on to lose the Presidential and General elections.
In Sri Lanka, the winner takes the most of it if not all, at the elections.


MR hopes to hold the PC elections rapidly as he rightfully thinks his party can win and the victory can mark the first of serial elections. But he realizes an albatross weighted heavily around his neck. His family is under attack. His response to offset a challenge was to sit in the hot seat of power. He became PM in collaboration with Maithripala Sirisena {MS] till the judiciary flung him out with a large slice of valued votes; never to recover-as he showed his hand much too early. He lost much of the middle vote he gained over the months. Much of the blame was placed on MS, but it was a joint venture.
Lately MR talked of beating the Budget and continued till the votes were counted. He sounded like a Professor of Law. 
To the SLPP in the South the former President - irrespective of errors made, is always their hero (some look to the gravy train?) He fondles infants and backslaps elders, dutifully. He made his troops overrun the terrorists camps to free his country from fear.  Yet those who voted previously, fear to vote for him again though competing candidates pale into insignificance in comparison. 
A peep into the past, shows wicked times; a country without law and order. This does not make t popular twthe vote breaks into three divisions (a) Sinhalese-MR supporters (b) Sinhalese-RW supporters (c).Fast expanding Middle Voters - group coming from varied nationalities, but smaller in numbers than (a) and (b), with their votes likely to make a difference at a close election.
A deeply religious country, where the young voters are over religious, vote not as their parents did, but with a religious fervour. MR knows this best, courts them assiduously, but will the youth vote as MR’s family is distinctly unpopular among the Sinhala Buddhist youth because of their alienated lifestyles and exorbitant tastes.

MR can’t ignore

Much of the Christian /Catholic belt (except the ultra Catholics in ‘little Rome’ - in sophisticated Negombo) will remain with MR as some of the bravest servicemen (sadly retired prematurely) fought the war alienating their clergymen, earning the respect of the laity that cheered, in removing the terrorists and in developing healthy relationships with their Buddhist brothers. Clergymen fell foul of the mood of their people unlike monks that stayed and safeguarded their devotees in the hour of need. Two denominations have merged neatly as a result of the war having fought side by side.
The emerging prime opinion makers in the vernacular, reside on the road to Avissawella, [saffron belt], talks on mobile phones to their village relatives. News travels fast from Colombo to the Provinces on handsets and MR cannot ignore the Sinhala Buddhist voters who were once the bulwark of his vote bank. Dinesh Gunewardane’s name adds lustre to the list of platform performers and can access the vital Buddhist clergy, once the bed rock of MR votes, now fragmented. JHU monks won comfortably in most of these electorates at the point of entry to politics (nine seats) keeping laymen and its present leader Ranawaka out of Parliament. They presently idolize RW.
Though a feeble vote catcher, doesn’t underestimate MS as a spoiler; he might lose his deposit, but his office holds value to MR, to ensure the progeny holds high office in 2025. GR must be kept out of the 2020 run; to prevent a re-run for his second term. MS can outdo GR, if he calls for snap Presidential elections with the covert blessings of MR who is ahead of GR in five provinces.

 

"MR feels if he holds on till nomination period is near without disclosing the Presidential candidate, GR is sure to earn the wrath for being too late in ridding the US disqualification"


GR, a more suave urban man with the uncommitted Middle vote and the SLFP/`SLPP part votes, add the Left/Right vote too. He is more a new face in politics. Still MR is ahead on the aggregated vote coming from the provinces. MR has and can lose singularly but not with GR as running mate. People prefer to leave the running of the country to a working man than the anecdotal kind.
MR may prefer to place his hidden agenda at the door of the US Embassy. MR feels if he holds on till nomination period is near without disclosing the Presidential candidate, GR is sure to earn the wrath for being too late in ridding the US disqualification while most realise presently that MR is undercutting GR. That is a cause for why does MR throw a trump from a winning combo in his pocket - another closer home than a brother in politics? GR is too insecure in politics to defy his elder brother being an obedient kid brother, but if by chance GR ceases to be a contender for Presidency, MR may witness a drop in the Middle Votes. UNPs money men are likely to vote comprehensively for GR as he is a tough disciplinarian, but unlike his elder brother is not a friendly soul and is incapable of winning the hearts, but will win the minds of the intelligentsia. Brothers need each for different strokes.
In the past poor MR had men like W. Karunajeewa; who he despatched to Galle District with 17 seats having lost most in the 1988 elections with instructions not to return to Colombo with less than a majority of 300,000 to offset losses elsewhere. He was given Rs 50000 for campaign expenses.


Karu pawned his wife’s matrimonial necklace to maintain himself in Galle for 3 months, cared not a hoot at the great sacrifice to his law practice, returned to Colombo with a majority of 500.000 votes, redeemed the item of jewellery after working furiously for a month on every available brief in my study. He declined an appointment as Ambassador to Japan as he could not speak fluent English, but accepted an assignment to head a state bank; to my horror at a monthly income much less at a prime state bank than as my junior. On being admonished he spoke of the value of free education and his obligation to the nation leaving me speechless.
MR the Rich Man has lost men like W. Karunajeewa. 
Three political brothers spoke to him fondly except for GR who hardly knew him, complained to Karu. He required an explanation;  the difference between working men and the political class. Next He knew he was not with them. 

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