Wed, 04 Aug 2021 Today's Paper

Govt. has to walk the tight rope

PC Elections

24 December 2020 02:46 am - 0     - {{hitsCtrl.values.hits}}

A A A

The Gotabaya Rajapaksa led Government doesn’t believe in the devolution of political authority or power to the provincial councils, but some sections of the alliance that brought this regime to power want the elections to be held soon (Pic AFP)

It was a political reason, rather than ideological, that led to the indefinite delay in PC polls

The former rule was politically in favour of strengthening the provincial councils as a way of creating political space for the minorities in the north and the east

Nevertheless, there are a whole lot of SLPPers waiting in the wings for an opportunity to take up positions in the provincial councils in terms of chief ministers and ministers.

 

The Government weathered internal storms and proceeded with the enactment of the 20th Amendment virtually undoing the 19th Amendment. Again, the Government is bound to meet with similar internal dissension when it initiates moves to conduct the elections to the provincial councils.

The provincial councils, established in consequent to the 1987 Indo-Lanka Accord, now remain defunct due to the legal barrier in calling for elections.  In 2017, the then Yahapalana Government enacted a piece of legislation to change the electoral system to a hybrid one- a mix of proportional representation and the First Past the Post System. It was done with two-thirds approval in Parliament. However, the former Government could not complete the delimitation process so as to lay the necessary legal apparatus for the conduct of the elections. It led to an inordinate delay.  The new Government came into being in such a context.

India, even to date, sticks to its guns in this regard. When a question was directed at Indian High Commissioner Gopal Baglay in this regard, he said Sri Lanka is in India’s interests.  India is not agreeable to do away with it.


The former rule was politically in favour of strengthening the provincial councils as a way of creating political space for the minorities in the north and the east. But, that government, under the pretext of changing the electoral system,   avoided elections fearing that Sri Lanka Podujana Peramuna (SLPP), as its strongest   political opponent, would win the polls.  The elections were withheld under various excuses.  It was a political reason, rather than ideological, that led to the indefinite delay in PC polls. 


Now, the new Government led by President Gotabaya Rajapaksa is in place.   It is not a Government believing in devolution of political authority or power to the provincial councils.  But, it has a different requirement to have the elections as early as possible. Particularly,   SLPP Leader Mahinda Rajapaksa and national organizer Basil Rajapaksa are interested in conducting the elections since they believe in the need to build up the next tier of party leaders at provincial level.  If the party wins the elections to the provincial councils,   the writ of the SLPP will further be entrenched at the next line of governance making it a political force without parallel. 

And, it won’t be smooth sailing for the SLPP to proceed with steps for the conduct of elections without reconciling differences with its alliance partners.  Unlike the previous government, the SLPP was elected to office mainly with the backing of a nationalist force that is fundamentally against power devolution


Be that as it may, the SLPP’s move is met with stiff internal resistance. And, it won’t be smooth sailing for the SLPP to proceed with steps for the conduct of elections without reconciling differences with its alliance partners.  Unlike the previous government, the SLPP was elected to office mainly with the backing of a nationalist force that is fundamentally against power devolution and the provincial council system in particular.    The moment the Government conveyed its interest in calling for elections at the earliest, these forces including a Government MP and a section of the Buddhist clergy upped the ante against move.


At last week’s Cabinet meeting, the issue came up for discussion and diverge opinions prevailed among the ministers on the conduct of elections at this hour.  


The Cabinet referred the matter to the leaders of the   alliance parties to decide on it. 


The minor allies of the Government are all out against the elections, and they trot out three reasons.  They believe that the Government received a mandate from people to bring about a change to the electoral system, and therefore the conduct of polls under the old system is against the public opinion.   Also, they argue that it is not advisable for the Government to have elections without containment of the pandemic. They say people tolerated the conduct of parliamentary polls amidst the pandemic because a staple Parliament is sine- qua- non for the smooth functioning of the Government.  People will not think in the same manner regarding the provincial council elections are concerned.  Likewise, they insist on changing the present provincial council system. They want to scrap land and police powers devolved to the provinces. The Government has also undertaken a constitution making process.


As things stand now, the Government is not in a position to conduct the polls anytime soon, particularly due to objection from its allies.   Nevertheless, there are a whole lot of SLPPers waiting in the wings for an opportunity to take up positions in the provincial councils in terms of chief ministers and ministers. The SLPP has to appease these members.


The provincial council system is a contentious area being touched upon by the experts’ committee which has been appointed to draft a new constitution.  The committee is set to take up the matters in the future.  There is a call for the total abrogation of the system by some.  There are others requesting for amendments to the system. As such, it is a tricky area    for the Government to touch upon. 


The provincial councils are also part of Sri Lanka’s commitment to India under the Indo-Lanka Accord.    India, even to date, sticks to its guns in this regard. When a question was directed at Indian High Commissioner Gopal Baglay in this regard, he said Sri Lanka is in India’s interests.  India is not agreeable to do away with it.  


Strengthening the   provincial councils is viewed as a step towards the resolution of the ethnic conflict. The section of the international community that is keen in this regard is watchful of what the Government is doing to the provincial councils   in the evolution of a new constitution. 


No matter what the international pressure is, those who rubbish the provincial councils as a white elephant  have a valid point to drive home their point this time.  Most of the provincial councils have not functioned since 2017. But, the administrative activities are carried out through the governors without any hindrance.  It has also helped resolve areas of duplication between the powers of the Central Government and the Provincial Councils.

See Kapruka's top selling online shopping categories such as Toys, Grocery, Flowers, Birthday Cakes, Fruits, Chocolates, Clothing and Electronics. Also see Kapruka's unique online services such as Money Remittence,News, Courier/Delivery, Food Delivery and over 700 top brands. Also get products from Amazon & Ebay via Kapruka Gloabal Shop into Sri Lanka.

  Comments - 0

See Kapruka's top selling online shopping categories such as Toys, Grocery, Flowers, Birthday Cakes, Fruits, Chocolates, Clothing and Electronics. Also see Kapruka's unique online services such as Money Remittence,News, Courier/Delivery, Food Delivery and over 700 top brands. Also get products from Amazon & Ebay via Kapruka Gloabal Shop into Sri Lanka.

 


Add comment

Comments will be edited (grammar, spelling and slang) and authorized at the discretion of Daily Mirror online. The website also has the right not to publish selected comments.

Reply To:

Name - Reply Comment


Ugly sporting truths Sport scholarships thrive in culture of corruption

Sadly the cohort of perpetrators include egotistical leaders, coaches and eve

JR Jayewardene and the July 1983 Anti-Tamil Violence

July 24, 1983 was the day on which a destructive spree of anti-Tamil violence

“Medamulana Dynasty”: Four Sons and Three Grandsons of Don Alvin Rajapaksa

Basil Rohana Rajapaksa was sworn in as Finance minister in the Government of

Site survey near Akasa Chaitya: Is it the end of Yala?

The Yala National Park has been at the receiving end of human disturbances fr



See Kapruka's top selling online shopping categories such as Toys, Grocery, Flowers, Birthday Cakes, Fruits, Chocolates, Clothing and Electronics. Also see Kapruka's unique online services such as Money Remittence,News, Courier/Delivery, Food Delivery and over 700 top brands. Also get products from Amazon & Ebay via Kapruka Gloabal Shop into Sri Lanka.