1 December, 2022


Battle Challenges For Mahinda Rajapaksa

By Udara Soysa

Udara Soysa

Udara Soysa

This election will be recorded in the history of Sri Lankan politics as an election that was largely fair and balanced in its overall conduct. Can former President Mahinda Rajapaksa make a comeback in the presentpolitical landscape?

Mahinda Rajapaksa enters this election without his previous unlimited state resources. He does not have state media or any other state resources in his disposition. In fact, state media has become very critical for the former President as it has become relatively partial towards the United National Party (UNP) campaign. This will be a major setback for the former President.

The UNP had been embroiled in an internal conflict from early 2006. Victory in the 2015 presidential election effectively united the party as Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesighe’s popularity has hit an all-time high within party ranks. Mahinda Rajapaksa is now facing a united front which is further strengthened by the arrival of the likes of nationalist Champika Ranawaka and popularist Hirunika Premachandra.

Mahinda RajapaksaVoter confusion among UPFA ranks may also go against the former President. Many at the grassroots ranks of the UPFA strongly believe that UNP will win this election and that the UPFA leader President Maithripala Sirisena is backing the UNP. Some also expressed their reluctance to vote due to these realities. A senior lawyer involved with UPFA’s campaign in Galle stated that, “We are not sure whether Mahinda will be able to have his government even if he wins – the Executive President is unlikely to cooperate with MR,”. The outcome of the next election will be critically dependent on how the former President’s team manages these emotions and perceptions.

Finally, the lack of effectiveness in the SLFP provincial and pradeshiya mechanism at present will not the help the UPFA campaign. Internal division as well as lack of control of the Samurdhi program which was heavily and productively used by SLFP during election campaigns spanning from 1997, will further handicap the election campaign. Pradeshiya political activists are visibly confused at present with the latest developments. Many UPFA activists in Southern Sri Lanka question the former President’s decision to contest from Kurunegala, an area to which former president has had no previous political connections.

Mahinda Rajapaksa had been able to ride through the popular euphoria of war victories from May 2009. This approach proved to be very effective as evident through his election victories till 2015. The 2015 election result proved otherwise as the floating voter focus is located at issues such as cost of living, corruption, family rule, justice and good governance.

The unswerving negative attitude of minority groups towards Mahinda Rajapaksa and Gotabaya Rajapaksa will worsen the calculation for former President. “We do not feel safe with him,” were the thoughts of a Muslim resident from Beruwala who spoke with the writer. He added that he voted for the former President in 2005 and 2010, but changed his political stance due to developments that followed after 2010.

Disunity among UPFA ranks will factor heavily in the upcoming election. SLFP heavy weights such as Duminda Dissanayake and Prasanna Solangaarachchi are openly criticizing the former President while seniors such as SB Dissanayake are strategically positioning themselves in a pro-President Sirisena position. In this context, MR’scampaign needs to create a strong wave of confidence to unify UPFA voters to ensure a constructive UPFA voter turnout in the upcoming general election.

The activities of the FCID and pressure mounted by law enforcement authorities on individuals with corruption charges among MR’s ranks will become a minus point forMR’s election campaign. These arrests and investigations foster a perception of corruption within MR’s ranks while logistically hindering his election campaign.

Despite all these realities, Mahinda Rajapaksa has entered the election race as the President who ended the 30-year civil war in Sri Lanka. This may continue to work in his favor within the rural masses in Sri Lanka. However, the outcome of this election is complicated as it will depend largely on the manner in which the former President manages the above listed factors. The former President is known to overcome unfavorable odds in the past. Unfortunately for him, this may become too much of a daunting task than he otherwise bargained.

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Latest comments

  • 10

    Udara Soysa

    RE: Battle Challenges For Mahinda Rajapaksa

    Mr. Mahinda Rajapaksa, Defeated Former President,

    Mahinda Rajapaksa’a tag line is

    Lets Power the Nation
    Let’s start Afresh.

    Well well, MaRa what happened from 2010 to 2015?

    Did you blow it destroy the Country?

    You Fattened the family and Cronies.

    So, Let’s start Afresh?

    Tell that to the Modays. Mootals anfd Fools with an average IQ of 65. There are fewer and fewer of them in Lanka, the Land of Native Veddah Aethho.

    MaRa MaRa Chatu MaRa Amana maRa Dushta MaRa…

  • 13

    A good analysis, shortened by leaving out the insulting mudslinging that we see in articles usually.

  • 9

    Even ones that were very against to go UPFA are compelled to change their sides today to protect human rights. At least to pave the way basic rights to be safeguarded is their motive. Today in the environment left by Mahinda Murderous Rajapakshe adminstration – even if last 6month took its every effort – tangible changes in the systems have failed sofar DUe TO the story.. just changing the outcover of a book would do so long content of the book stay unchanged. After the election that is due to be held on 17 August, there will be a change in the system from top to the bottoom. Those who are aware of takint it as good – and favourable for long term will support to defeat MR and this thugs.

  • 0

    Dont under estimate MR. He has funds he obtained as commisions.He will use to to recoup later. he has the effect o0f mesmerising the crowd. He has charisma.
    The SLFP policies of SWRD have beibg changed completely in his term of power. His supporters who were lethargic now will fight tothe end to preserve previlages.

  • 0

    It will be decision between the educted and the uneducated this time:- Pl. listen –


    (Statement by the United Front Of The Peradeniya University Lectueres And Alumni – 2015)

  • 4

    MR was politically wiped out on 8th Jan 15. I do not think the masses are that ignorant of the pre 2015 era.

  • 3

    Rajapaksa is definitely going to come to parliament. He was in parliament earlier with four portfolios but this time he will be the leader of the opposition. Yet if there is a proper investigation on his swindling government finances while he was president, he will have to be in prison.

  • 1

    Corruption coruption.All politian SLFP ,UNP JVP All politian are corrupted.MR is
    corrupt RW is corrupt so it is nothing new.The difference is corrupt MR is better than Corrupt RW as the RW does not have the spine and ticker to stand up to Big powers.They only have to ask how high to jump and he jump

  • 2

    Though, the article has its own reasons for MR to be the loser while I have some critical points to highlight on the other side of the story. First, some youth voted for MS had thought that when corruption, malpractice, nepotism, etc. were curtailed, a new set of development activities be planned and carried out from the outset. What happened was the opposite, everything lowered including corruption.This is bad for the UNP and Yahapalanaya. The reason is ‘Yahapalanaya’ does not mean stopping the projects, rather it is the the way that development projects and programs are managed. New government has lost it. Second, while accepting the fact that proving a corruption or a fraud takes a longer period, the new government was not able to find a solid, well-rounded fraud on a mega project, a highway projects, harbor project or even port city, to make any impact on the floating votes. Third, I am of the view that the worst of all is the Central Bank Transaction (Treasury Bond Issue, some people call ‘Prison’ Bond – ‘Bandanagara’ Badumkara) was more debated than any of the corruption mentioned in the previous regime. People will judge them all how and to extent they are presented to them during the election campaign.

  • 1

    The writer has conveniently omitted that Ranil did not have balls to face MR previously. In fact this time too he has a common candidate to hood wink the masses. The guys who are talking about UNP has forgotten their past and profiteering on Mahaveli project. I do not see any elevation of human rights than what I enjoyed during MR government. All is big talk. How can President could appoint a minority Prime Minister according to constitution. The removal of CJ appointing the former for a day, then appointing another one is not constitutional. Ranil and co always shouted on these issues but when it comes to their turn they completely go back. The guy who challenged MR to leave office before contesting elections, what is he doing right now.

  • 0

    Once I read this article what I feel that the writer does not have practicality of analyzing the current political context in Sri Lanka. He mentioned that Duminda Dissanayaka and Solangarachchi are heavy weights in SLFP party …..at least they did not take highest preference votes records in last election in their districts. Even Solangarachchi is not a member of parliament. Now the trend for good governance was completely up side down.Now the country is in imminent danger of splitting in to pieces with the influence of so called international community . Maithree is just acting like a scarecrow not as leader with a backbone. Generally, most of voters from minority communities will vote against UPFA led by MR in the upcoming general election how ever major decisive factor is floating voters among the Sinhala Buddhists who will support for UPFA. It is not doubt that MR and UPFA will win the next election but they could only secure approximately 109 seats as my estimation.

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