The reason for the early hype among the political parties and the media on the Presidential election which is not at hand is very clear.
It is the indecision by the main political parties on the candidates they are going to field that has created this early hullabaloo over the matter.
Among the main political parties, only the Janatha Vimukthi Peramuna (JVP) seems to be indifferent about it as it is a party that does not place much emphasis on individuals when it comes to elections.
And it is a party that takes decisions collectively, where individuals do not have much say on deciding on candidates.
On the other hand the JVP, despite their rhetoric on election platforms, very well knows that their candidate would not win the election and are merely using the election platform to expose the other parties and to educate the masses on their own policies and strategies.
Therefore they are not in haste to decide whether to support another party’s candidate or to field a specific candidate of their own.
The other three main parties- the United National Party (UNP), Sri Lanka Freedom Party (SLFP) and the Sri Lanka Podujana Peramuna (SLPP) are in some sort of disarray over any coalition to be formed or the candidate they are going to field.
"The SLFP and the United Peoples Freedom Alliance (UPFA) under which he fielded his candidates collectively managed to obtain only about 1.5 million votes or 13 per cent of the valid votes."
In spite of many leaders of the ruling UNP having said that their candidate would definitely be the party leader, Ranil Wickremesinghe a significant section of the grassroots level members and supporters seem to opine in a different way.
Some of them do not hesitate to express those views as the non-Cabinet Minister Ajith P. Perera did last week during a public meeting.
From the stage, he repeatedly called on and encouraged the crowds to speak out for the Party’s Deputy Leader Sajith Premadasa, while speaking about the party’s next Presidential election.
This is one incident where the considerable and fast growth of support for Premadasa among the rank and file of the UNP that was clearly evident during the recent Constitutional and political crisis. Although the party leadership emerged victoriously and was strengthened by the crises, an opinion that it was the leadership that has to take the responsibility for the humiliating defeat at the February 10 local government elections and the alienation of President Maithripala Sirisena was also growing within the party ranks, during the same period.
As far as President Sirisena is concerned, he has come a long way since the beginning of last year to make a claim at the Presidential stakes.
In fact, he was politically nowhere in the wake of his party’s humiliating defeat at the Local Government elections in February last year.
The two parties, the SLFP and the United Peoples Freedom Alliance (UPFA) under which he fielded his candidates collectively managed to obtain only about 1.5 million votes or 13 per cent of the valid votes.
He found himself in a tight corner as on the one hand he was at odds with his partner in the Government, the UNP and on the other, the comeback by Rajapaksas which he feared most was evident to be imminent, in the light of their resounding victory at that election.
Yet, it is interesting to note that President Sirisena has changed the situation to the extent that he even expects to be the presidential candidate of the SLPP, the party unofficially led by former President Mahinda Rajapaksa.
He seems to have valid reasons to stake a claim to the SLPP’s Presidential candidacy.
Mahinda Rajapaksa has been barred from contesting by the 19th Amendment to the Constitution which was passed in April 2015 with the support of his group as well.
And the same Amendment has prevented his two brothers, Basil and Gotabaya from running for the Presidency on the grounds that they are dual citizens of Sri Lanka and the US.
None of the Presidential aspirants seemed to be concerned about the masses
It is the SLPP that has the highest chance to succeed in an election
JVP indifferent; UNP, SLFP SLPP in disarray
Fast growth of support for Premadasa among the rank and file of the UNP that was clearly evident
Sirisena changed situation to such an extent now he even expects to be the presidential candidate of the SLPP
SLPP also faces multiple problems with respect to finding a candidate
The interest of the former Speaker Chamal Rajapaksa in the stakes came up only lately. Thus, it is reasonable for the President who on top of all these has developed a strong bond between himelf and Mahinda Rajapaksa through his October coup to think of staking a claim to the topmost post again.
But, has Mahinda Rajapaksa forgotten all that happened in 2014 which dashed his hopes to hold on to the Presidency until his son Namal grew up to take the baton from him? Has he forgotten President Sirisena’s efforts to put his entire clan behind bars? Will Basil Rajapaksa and other leaders of the SLPP be prepared to parachute Sirisena to the throne forgetting that his ascension to the Chairmanship of the SLFP pushed them to build their own party and taking all these pains in that process?
However, the SLPP also faces multiple problems with respect to finding a candidate. As mentioned above Mahinda Rajapaksa and Basil Rajapaksa are out of the fray due to the hurdles created by the 19th Amendment. But Gotabaya Rajapaksa now says he is prepared, meaning he is prepared to do away with his American citizenship.
Chamal Rajapaksa too has said, interestingly after Gotabaya expressed his willingness to contest, that he is also prepared.
However, the Rajapaksa family is most likely to disappoint the UNP finally by evading a dispute among the family members and as most leaders of the SLPP/ Joint Opposition say, the issue would be sorted out at the discretion of the former President. They would not let the opportunity to go out of the family.
Among all the players, it is the SLPP that has the highest chance to succeed at an election.
Yet, without the support of the minorities, it would be difficult for the party to get the fifty per cent and one vote required by the law to win a Presidential Election in the first preferential vote count.
"The end result is the relative economic stagnation in the country. Hence, in reality, no Presidential aspirant currently under discussion would change the lives of the people or bring lasting peace to the country"
However, no other party can outshine the SLPP in the second preferential vote count either.
The most crucial question that should be raised by the ordinary people, despite it being not raised at any election is which party or which candidate has a vision and a plan for the long-lasting economic development and a roadmap for building the Sri Lankan nation through lasting reconciliation among various communities. The answer is vividly clear, nobody.
The main reason is that from the viewpoint of top leaders of political parties as well as the ordinary people politics is meant for money-making.
Therefore leaders fight for power and portfolios, resulting in high profile corruption always going hand in hand with politics. Their ordinary supporters vie for the leftovers.
There is no vision among the so-called leaders. Hence, development, according to them, is implementing haphazard projects, mainly targeting personal gains, in most cases giving in to the demands of various foreign countries or agencies.
The end result is the relative economic stagnation in the country. Hence, in reality, no Presidential aspirant currently under discussion would change the lives of the people or bring lasting peace to the country.