25 July, 2021

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Dire Consequences In Agriculture Due To Shortsightedness Of President’s Fertilizer Policy

By Anura Kumara Dissanayake

Anura Kumara Dissanayake- The JVP leader

The gazette notification was issued on 5th May stating that the import of manure, insecticides and pesticides are to be banned.

This impulsive decision was arrived at by the president without prior consultation with farmers and other stakeholders engaged in agriculture, resulting in grave unrest among the agriculture community especially farmers. It is evident that no attention has been paid so far to address this surprising decision taken impulsively to ease the apprehension in the agricultural community.

A government must not take such haphazard decisions which affect the livelihood of 27% of the labour force who are engaged in agriculture thus jeopardizing nation’s food security. This 27% engaged in agriculture account for 7% of the GDP.  About 25% of the industrial sector is dependent on the production of 27% who are engaged in agriculture. All this constitutes a considerable portion of the national economy.

The livelihood of those engaged in paddy, vegetables fruits and long term crops like tea, coconut and rubber cultivation are threatened as they are sectors are heavily dependent on chemical fertilizer. Crops like potatoes and vegetables are short term crops of 2-3 months. Fertilizer has to be administered to them in proper quantities at the appropriate time.

The problem regarding the insecticides and pesticides too are grave. Farmers who received a discount of 20%-40% on these chemicals are now forced to pay exorbitant prices and will be driven to the mercy of the black market.

Mr. Gotabaya Rajapaksa in his election campaign, promised to give manure free of charge which at that time was priced at Rs. 500/- per 50 kilos for paddy farmers. It was also promised that all types of manure would be issued free of charge. The present leader of opposition Mr. Sajith Premadasa also gave similar promises. At that time we as a political force stated that while continuing the subsidy on manure we will take steps to introduce organic farming gradually. However, today’s crisis situation has come up as the present president has gone back on his word and prohibited the import of chemicals with effect from last April.

Although the president claims that this decision had been taken to provide food free of chemicals and making the soil healthy a doubt arises whether by arriving at this decision he is enabling his close associates to import rubbish from foreign countries as organic manure.

The president’s statement that organic manure would be imported confirms this doubt. It is certain that close associates of the president are in the process of obtaining licenses, to form companies to import organic manure. In accordance with the plant safety act implemented in 1981, it is prohibited to import manure, as it may contain bacteria and viruses which could invade the country, through decaying animal and plant waste.

More importantly the question arises as to whether the president took this decision with the ulterior motive of dissuading the farmers from agriculture, so that the land would be abandoned and thus given over to multinational companies at a later stage. This could be the initial stage of such a scenario.

On the other hand, even before the introduction of this attention of the public was drawn to methodical organic farming and a vast number of people have volunteered to commence organic farming. Our party in particular strongly supports the use of organic manure but these decisions cannot and should not be taken in a hasty manner as being done. But the aforementioned sudden decision without any plan has made the people to refuse organic farming altogether.

Before taking such important policy decisions the government should introduce alternative manure but no consideration was given to issues arising with such controversial decisions. Now agriculture is in dire straits! The farmers are surrounding the buildings where manure is stored and are protesting already. The government should initiate a suitable scheme to solve their problems.

Initially the president stated that the reduction in harvest due to organic farming would be compensated financially. In that case we would appreciate if you state whether you are still committed to that position? Has an assessment been made to ascertain the amount of money to be payed? The farmers are facing a crisis. By promising financial compensation without a proper plan would be unworkable.

It was also stated that in the event that of the organic manure manufactured locally being insufficient; steps would be taken to import the shortfall. In the “Gama Samaga Pilisandara” programme, the president stated that his word was the law and equals to a gazette notification. Therefore, he obviously thinks that his opinion is the final say in everything.

Our country and its eco system would be grave danger through this. No laws have been promulgated to import and maintain quality assurance systems of manure. The specialists of this field are of the opinion that the transition to organic manure should be done only after lengthy research of about two years. Anyhow the president has stated that organic farming would be introduced during the “Maha” season.

The agriculture department too has not set the initial guidelines for this. A grave danger exists of various insects, alien plants and heavy metals entering the country with the imported manure.

As a political party we have important goals. Food safety is the main component of this as it constitutes a main part of national security. Second, is the upliftment of the social status of the all categories of farmers. The third is providing food which is free of harmful chemicals to the people.

At present the land of our country is infertile. It is saturated with poisonous chemicals. This has to be turned into a healthy fertile soil. The citizens of this country should get a meal free of poison. For that there should be a vision and a plan.

We implore the president to import organic manure only after long term research and after a proper quality assurance mechanism is in place. We are of the opinion that this plan should not be implemented in haste. There are many problems facing our agriculture with regard, to seeds, land, water, marketing and storage of crops.

By ignoring all these and thinking only of organic farming there would be a twofold repercussion. One is the seed mafia of the world. Our country has already fallen prey to this mafia. We have already lost all varieties of seeds which were in our possession. The local seed manufacturing process is at a standstill. Therefore, we are totally dependent on the seed mafia of multinational companies. We have lost all our seeds which were our wealth.

The seeds which are being imported today are heavily dependent on chemicals. Therefore, in the event of switching over to organic farming, we have to formulate a proper procedure to import seeds which are compatible with organic farming. How do we manufacture organic manure and other applicable products?  How do we provide the technology needed?  There ought to be a proper plan to create awareness among farmers.

During the decades of 60-70 our country had a successful agrarian service. We had good system in place for agriculture instructions. Now it is at a complete standstill. TV commercials and the merchants who are selling agro- chemicals have become the chief advisors to farmers. As the agrarian services were breaking down, the private companies have taken their place.

Owing to the soil becoming saturated with agro- chemicals, there lies the danger of farmers losing their livelihood. Also the citizens of the country are consuming poisonous food. As a solution to this problem, the president has suggested organic farming. Without finding solutions to anticipatory problems, trying to address this crisis in a haphazard manner has nullified all hopes of making this project a success.

There is a danger of an idea forming in the minds of the people that the entire agrarian sector has gone into a crisis, with president’s involvement in organic farming. There is a danger of all aspects of organic farming, breaking down.

The president should immediately address the issue of farmers’ distancing themselves from agriculture due to the collapse of production and the deteriorating living standards of the farming community. For these appropriate fertilizers, suitable herbicides and suitable pesticides should be provided to the farming community at the correct time.

We are not referring to the vegetable plot at Gotabaya Rajapaksa’s house.

This is about the farmers’ whole livelihood which is at stake! Our farmers are responsible for the food safety of the whole country and are responsible for exports of the agrarian section. By trying various solutions the industry has gone into crisis. We implore the president to address these problems promptly!

*Excerpts from the online seminar JVP head office Battaramulla by Anura Kumara Dissanayake.

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Latest comments

  • 9
    3

    Our people fussed that all kinds of diseases arose from the use of chemical fertilizers etc. because of undesirable content in them. In any case, even in the water one drinks taken from the best of sources, there are undesirable chemicals in it but well within the limits stipulated by specialists. The real issue is that in anything and everything we get down from other countries is of the lowest quality and very often they are factory rejects, thus having the undesirable content greater than the specified limits. To get them into the country bogus certificates are obtained upon throwing cash at the certifiers indicating that the undesirable elements are within limits. The problem of imports could even be true for organic fertilizer which the country has been importing for quite some time, but problems not reported. The faulty import process must be rectified. Entire country going Green? As a matter of principle, it is good, but decisions implemented without taking into ground realities and logistics will complicate and bring misery to people. Therefore an “Executive” Presidency of the JR type or an “Executive” Prime Minister of Ranil type of 19A permits rash decisions without any checks and balances.

    • 2
      2

      Let us not be too dismissive.
      There could be a problem caused by overuse of chemicals.
      (Prof. Ranjith Senaratne has written extensively on this, but not to ban use of chemicals though.)
      *
      Approximately 1.5 million people, or five percent of France’s population, are drinking polluted water. Most of these people live in the rural areas of eastern or southern France in addition to the agricultural areas surrounding Paris where 20 percent or more of the population drink contaminated water. Additionally, 63 percent of homes have polluted water-accounting for around 900,000 people.
      Experts noted that the cause of the contaminated water, in towns with less than 500 people, is due to the fact that these agricultural areas are exposed to high levels of pesticides and nitrates from fertilizers and livestock manure.
      Additional contamination factors are said to be from natural radioactive chemicals and lime, which creates hard water residue on drinking glasses.
      Although the contamination rate has fallen 35 percent since 2012, the quality gap is deafening and not much is being done for rural areas.
      On the brighter side, the areas where France has improved water quality is due to the improvement of pollution control and reforming water standards.

  • 10
    3

    AKD got it right when he says that the Rajapaksas’ organic farming gambit is to lay the Lankan farmlands to waste and give them over to multi-national corporations. They can’t be that stupid otherwise. People must rise up against all this.

  • 15
    3

    His shotsightedness will lead to a starvation across the country no doubt.
    .
    Not because he loves the nation but not having enough dollars to cover huge loans taken by his brother et al , the buggers have stopped import of agro chemicals within an overnight. His brother mafia boss and his previous Junta regime allowed even internationally banned chemicals in to the country. .
    That is how rajarata farmers and other corners of the naturally beautiful country s soil was contaminated. As a result unknown kidney disease is killing those farmers for the last 20 years. The si is similar to Nikaragua or the like countries. Some thought it was started only through Glyphosate but the pollution levels in developed countries are not as is the case in developing world.
    .

    This problem could resolve by providing clean water to those in met areas and introducing the organic manure instead chemicals being subjected to a long term project. Besides both kind of manures should be there in order to allow the natural growth of each category of plants. Some would nt need N, P and K as the others while others require them more at the beginning of plant growth. .

  • 8
    2

    Continueing

    This problem could resolve by providing clean water to those in met areas and introducing the organic manure instead chemicals being subjected to a long term project. Besides both kind of manures should be there in order to allow the natural growth of each category of plants. Some would nt need N, P and K as the others while others require them more at the beginning of plant growth. .
    .
    Current mlechcha men in power heavily suffer from colourblindedness. Lack of experience in basic agriculture leads them to take the kind of stupid actions.
    .people thought Nandasena as apolitical candidate would have a vision, ironically what is displayed so far is his vision and all his fake intellectuals seem to have not the least knowledge on basics of the basics in even simple issues in the sustainability of the country. Gota though elected as defecto president to the nation, his is now rejected by growing numbers across the country. Fears are there that white van culture will take the life of dissidents making higher numbers. 

  • 16
    2

    President got the executive power to make his own decision. The people of the country after continued knowledge and understanding of this system which was misused by each and every presidents from 1978 until now. The same regime not only misused the power to get into power to their family but also committed number of crimes including murders and corrupted the country personally during their regime was given executive power knowing that they will do it again and again.
    The ban on fertilizer is not in the interest of health or environment but purely on the influence of some external power. I read a news that President warned all including Buddhists Monks today that no one should advice me who to release from jail and who should not be released. The same will apply to imports of fertilser as well.

  • 9
    6

    Whether it is a Health problem, Agricultural problem, Transportation problem, Power & Energy problem, Economic problem, Foreign Policy problem, Religious problem, Language problem, Law & Order problem, Education problem or any other problem including Constitution making, it is not necessary to consult and obtain the advice and opinions of experts in the field because being an extremely knowledgeable and learned person, our Excellency the President can figure out and solve all these problems by himself, single-handedly!

    • 6
      0

      Congratulations to the 6.9million on a job well done!

      • 5
        0

        6.9 millions would nt care much because they have zero knowledge about the facts. Their support was fully based on nothing but fake perception made by abusive media putting fake capabilities of uneducated, uncultured killing friendly Rajapakshes. Nandaseeni is just another stupid man, although his govt is enjoying 2/3 mandate if any good can be made for benefit of the masses. However lack of knowledge is the main problem of GR in today’s politics. Came to power by mislead now dont seem to know how to govern. Pigs might fly highly corrupted men would make wonders 😎😎😎😎😎😎😎

      • 4
        0

        Dear Sugandh,
May I ask you how did your family circles act in the last elections ? I knew some graduates from colombo, went on supporting pohottuwa then… some of them were company directors… asked why he thought a man who spent getto life in the US to have the brain to do the job, though without experience in local politics, his arguments were, just based on how Nandasena succeeded with colombo beautification project….. my further questions were blocked, since i was totally against him and his friends….
:
If we analyse our circles, we all have a good picture about the society. In my circles, they were cheated by ” fake relics” introduced by Sorbone educated Chief monk at Kelaniya Raja Mahavihara and behaved no different to some MBBS holders swallowed the Dhammika paniya against COVID. To my surprise, this monk is still there without being hurt by the very same buddhist adherents ….. is that not a miracle in our motherland ?
:
Retired teachers argued me how could I know it better while living out of the country, Rajapkshes were the ones who eleminated terror…. sounded even if their lovely ones would have been raped and murdered on broad day light on the sake of Rajapkashes, they would have tolerated it.

        • 6
          0

          Dear LM:

          I can bet none in my family circles voted for Gotabaya or Pohottuwa. Some were impressed by Sajith Premadasa’s passionate campaigns. My family circles depending on geographical location normally choose a Tamil party or UNP (or SJB).

          The moment Gotabaya Rajapaksa was elected as Prez, an eerie mood and deep disappointment set amongst my family circles, some caught by surprise.

          My family circles being almost entirely Tamil and confined to North and East and Colombo, it has been for sometime mostly a case of choosing the better of the evils. Many were directly affected by the atrocities of the state’s military and anti-Tamil pogroms through the decades and lost loved ones. Also have been affected by LTTE’s forced recruitment and the atrocities of IPKF.

          Amongst my circles, the paramount goal has always been safety from atrocities of the state, the military, and the police. The goal is still the same; to live without fear of crimes of the state and persecution by the state, and to be offered the due protections by the state.

          LM, I gather from our observations that people’s experiences shape their priorities and there’s great lack of empathy for others’ plights.

          • 1
            0

            Sugandh@

            “””””LM, I gather from our observations that people’s experiences shape their priorities and there’s great lack of empathy for others’ plights.””””””

            exactly the truth – only wayout would be MEDIA to take the side of PUBLIC….. as you know main media TV channels dont give a damn about the UNANIMOUS decision of the release of CONVICTED Murder/Duminda Silva.

            What should have happened MEDIA to become independent… some would compare it with that of the US, however, what go viral in US is still not comparable to that of ours. In US regardless of the facts, people s support to TRUMP the clown seem to be not changing tangibly. However, ours is different, having self-proclaimed to be the SAVIOURs of the nation, they the Rajapakshes have been fishing in muddy waters leaving the destitute in a lurch. How mlechcha their inner thinking should be.

          • 2
            0

            S
            Don’t you think that it is unethical to ask a person how he voted, especially in public?
            There is right to privacy in this matter.
            It is just as unethical as people ‘revealing’ the personal identities of writers who use pseudonyms.
            Not that it bothers me one bit, but it is ugly.

            • 0
              0

              Prof SJ:

              That’s an interesting thought.

              Since the question wasn’t specific to my vote or any specific named person’s vote, and I am anonymous here, I did not see any ethical issue in being asked that question to understand the pulse of an unknown subset of a certain ethnic group.

              Certainly vote break down for each region and sub region and so on are published. The question that was posed was very much along those lines.

              Individuals do have the right to privacy but also the right to openly state who they voted for. Of course, there’s no way of verifying who she/he actually voted for… unless 100% of the voters at a polling division or electoral district cast their vote for the same party or candidate.

  • 17
    2

    President Gota is a mass murderer: It is madness to expect any vision or mission from him other than mass killing. Just wait for some more time to see his true colors; white van and all.

    For 73 years Sri Lanka has not produced any leader with sincere vision or mission other than Sinhalese Buddhist majoritarian madness that has brought the country to bankruptcy, poverty and distress.

    • 1
      0

      Sir John was good but he was not given a chance by the Buddhist clergy.

  • 13
    2

    Are we to expect a famine in the near future due to short-sighted thinking of those who know best?

    Reminds me of a story in China during the cultural revolution. Apparently, Mao, in his wisdom, decided to eradicate sparrows which eat the rice harvest in the fields. His plan was to get the sparrows airborne by making a noise & the poor sparrows, fearing to come down because of the noise, finally would drop dead from exhaustion, thereby, making the sparrow extinct in a single day. So he instructed all citizens to make whatever noise, starting at a particular time, banging tin pots or whatever they can get their hands on, continuously for hours until the birds started dropping dead. The plan worked & the pesky sparrow population was made extinct but the harvest was then devastated by swarms of locust which were previously eaten by the sparrows. Thereafter, the resulting famine had to be controlled by pesticides. So, was it better to spend money on pesticides or let the sparrows do the job for payment in rice? In the same way, wonder healthy eating at the expense of a shortage due to a lower harvest is better than an adequate harvest, boosted with chemicals, which will feed the population? Anybody stockpiling organic manure?

    • 1
      3

      “Reminds me of a story in China during the cultural revolution.”
      You are referring to something that happened during the Great Leap Forward.
      There was serious crop loss caused by various pests like caterpillars.
      It was a collective decision that went wrong, but Mao accepted responsibility. He stepped down as Head of State shortly after.
      *
      Do you know what locusts can do? Sparrows are no match to them.

  • 5
    3

    Anura Kumara Dissanayake

    “Dire Consequences In Agriculture Due To Shortsightedness Of President’s Fertilizer Policy”

    You were a Minister of Agriculture, Livestock, Land and Irrigation in Chandrika’s government. Didn’t you anticipate where the country was heading?

    As a minister of Agriculture one is tempted to inquire about the job, and what exactly one is expected to deliver, whether you were able to deliver anything that had helped poor people of this island to alleviate themselves from dire poverty?

    The arch racist anti Indian Somawansa went on a pilgrimage to China to forge party to party relation, the highest form of diplomatic relation a country could form with China. Nobody knows what transpired from the holy visit?


    Please read:
    Sri Lanka’s century of humiliation..!
    By Mangala Samaraweera
    http://www.lankaenews.com/news/3395/en

  • 3
    8

    I wonder if China is paying a commission to Indian Ambassador to take forward this campaign of importing China Hunu and Covid 19, instead of proper fertilizer. It seems to be that the time of Soniya, Shiv Shankar Menon, Narayan time is returning with this Ambassador. Lankawe and India could not agree on ETCA. India was ringing temple bells in homes to chase Covid 19- Lankawe was selling Dhammika Paani. Lankawe and India are first and 2nd place countries in losing Cricket matches. Now they are working together to import China Hunu. How many countries in the world suffer from kidney disease by using imported fertilizers? China is selling Covid vaccines to Lankawe with strict conditions that the citizens should not come to know the price of the vaccine the government is buying. The rowdy Rambo Modaya saying that the EU has no right to talk about the Lankawe constitution (He meant GSP+). He says the EU can talk about the garments’ quality.

  • 3
    9

    Rowdy is insisting that the EU should import Lankawe Hunu giving exemption to him, like he is doing with China. This Rambo Modaya is talking about the EU violating the Lanakwe’s constitution, but the president of the country stood in the election illegally. Further, now a person, an American citizen, who lost the election and ran to America is coming back as prime minister, without even submitting an application to cancel his US citizenship.

    Remember, this rapist Army Government members are the ones secretly imported South African Army worms to rape out the country’s agricultural industry, during Yahapalanaya time. Ranil destroyed those investigation documents to save the Royals. The New King brothers, a British mercenary trooper’s sons, flying in helicopter while Polonnaruwa’s farmers’ Kidneys failing by the faulty fertilizer they imported. You know, the US citizen came back to moot the Sampanthar Ayya’s secret solution to dissolve international pressure. Sumanthiran MP and Sanakiyan MP are standing ready with their bawl for their paperboy ministries. Sanakiyan MP turning out to be more and more the Sage Sanakiyar in Lankawe’s cutthroat politics.

  • 2
    8

    JVP is not our model party. But, still out of our way, we went and advised JVP in 2015 not to join Sampanthan Ayya and Chandrika in installing the Rice Munthali family and Ranil in power, but to use the election time to educate the Sinhala peasant families the importance of electing honest candidates. Now Ranil has resigned his government at the worst time in order to bring the Royals with 2/3. It is not just Sampanthar Ayya and Muslim Ministers share that mistake, but even Anura was part for not sincerely opposing Yahapanaya to make it as people’s government.

  • 4
    2

    Recently a meeting of the representatives of “1.1 million” farmers was held, chaired by the President with the relevant Ministers and officials including the President’s Secretary. At this meeting, the President “Assured,” the farmers not to fear any economic (personal income) problems, as he would compensate with the “Savings” of Rs. 80 million in stopping the import of chemical fertilizers. Minister Aluthgamage informed that the “Insurance Scheme” that gave coverage for farmers and withdrawn by the “Yahapalanaya” Government would be introduced “Immediately” and action “would” be taken to build “105 warehouses” to store produce.
    Just imagine how this President and Ministers HOODWINK the farmers. That Rs. 80 million will be available to “Compensate” and “105” warehouses available to store produce. Did any of those “Farmer Representatives” raise the question of “Loss” or “Depletion” of harvest without the “Fertilizer” to be used at varying intervals for a bountiful harvest? Did any of them raise the question “What is the use of “105” warehouses without bountiful harvest/production?. NO. Why?

    • 7
      2

      Dear Simon.
      As I see it there is a contradiction in all these assertions.
      It was not 80 M but 80Billion for annual fertilizer imports. But this is what costs the Country in foreign exchange. But the local money is put up by the importers through bank loans to open L/Cs – (not by the Treasury,) for repayment after sales. So there is a saving in FE but the local money is not available for distribution as the Prez says unless all the money of the importers is taken over by the govt. but again they do not have that money but is steeped in bank loans. It is not a simple math problem to say that 80B is available if the Rs.80B in fertllizer imports is stopped, and that money is available for distribution.
      So the net result is there is a saving in FE but not much real money saved by the govt. to give the farmer as even a handout.

      • 3
        0

        MV,
        All that this episode exposes is the simplistic views that the President has, and his total ignorance of economics. Of course there are those like Alutgamage who won’t dare contradict him. The sad thing is that many people take these fairy tales seriously.

    • 2
      0

      Simon

      May I point out that every government MP, every minister, every Gota/Mhinda b***s carriers, brief the media even if they are not subject ministers. We are not sure who is not telling the truth.

      Whether it is Gota’s spin strategy or the consequence of his tragic arrogance of misused power, we will have to wait and see.

      Have you seen the prince of Darkness Sarath Weerasekera, Wimal Sangili Karuppan Weerawansa, Udaya Ganapathipillai, ……………………… ?

  • 7
    0

    MyView: Thank you for explaining the maths of “80 million”. What I commented was based on what the President told the “Farmers Representatives” meeting. We all know how all these “Politicians” and their “Advisory Goons” posing as “Professionals tell the innocent people and secure to hand on to power.

    • 7
      0

      Dear Simon,
      When following these Meetings with the Prez, I noticed that these “Advisory goons” always say what HE wants to hear, echoing the “Emporor’s new clothes” story. Their obsequiousness is so obvious and so thick, one can cut it with a knife.
      I am sure at least one or two goons know it but will not dare say it.
      The local money for the 80B in FE is generated by bank loans and when the goods are sold, the loans are repaid. So the local money only rotates and circulates between banks, importers and local buyers, while the FE goes out. Some part of the FE is recovered from the exports like tea and rubber. The banks and importers make a 10% profit, and the farmers get whatever they can after harvest to cover their cash inputs.
      The 80B for compensation does not exist in real terms.

    • 1
      0

      Please watch the video below. This is from an expert in the field.
      .
      https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zu_l3QNeLo0

      Not letting that GODAYA-Paddeniya, but relying on the experts in Agricutlure, President could do it in a smarter manner.

  • 2
    0

    President is advised by people like Padeniya and Rathana. They go against agricultural scientists who have voiced concern but hang on the opinions of these two advsiors who are tiotal idiots with no knowledge of agriculture. Country will have severe rice shortages and vegetable prices will skyrocket. These advisors are ruining the President and the entire Podu peramuna.
    As a result of the corrupt Rajapakses, we are bankrupt now. They took loans from China to build useless things like Hambantota harbour, Sooriyawewa cricket stadium, Mattala airport and Conference hall. Conference hall now attracts only stray cows. Paying these loan installments is eating our foreign exchange and the govt. has no money to import fertilisers. Meanwhile the hefty commissions the Rajapakses got will be enough for several generations. Long live Sri Lanka!

    • 2
      0

      Total incompetence on the part of Gotabaya Rajapaksa to even figure out from whom he should seek expert advise or who are the experts or the depth that science plays in the various industries in the country.

      No doubt incompetent, but amoral motivations too are in play.

      Gotabaya’s love of meritocracy has his brother Basil Rajapaksa entering parliament. What merit does he have other than running successful election campaigns for Pohottuwa? His merit must be that successful hoodwinking of 6.9million citizens.

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