Colombo Telegraph

Open Letter To The Uva Voter; Uva Elections To Prove If ‘UNP’ Brand Is Damaged Beyond Repairs Or Not

By Vishwamithra1984 –

“Only those who will risk going too far can possibly find out how far one can go.” ~T. S. Eliot

In a column, dated July 26, 2011, published in a worldwide website this writer wrote thus:

“A people battered for more than a quarter century by unspeakable sufferings, left in the lurch by their own Colombo elites and derided by the Southern brethren of Mahawansa mindset, held fast; this time they decided to be the deceivers and dealt the King and the Prince a devastating blow. The sale that the Rajapaksas tried to consummate did not materialize, not because of buyer’s remorse, but because the buyer in fact turned out to be the seller, a seller of a different kind of merchandise to the international community.

They showed the value of the age old cliché-“buyer beware”, and the Northern voter was different. The feelings and utter scorn pent up for three decades were given vent to and out of 23 local bodies 20 in the North turned towards the leading Tamil party as their overwhelming choice. Only 3 were secured by the UPFA, ironically all three local bodies are not part of mainland Jaffna-islands of Kaytes, Delft and Velanai (in Kaytes)- adding fuel to the rumor that the votes were manipulated while in transit via helicopters. So much for free and fair elections!

In Vavuniya UPFA lost 35% -55%, in Mannar 39% – 59%, in Kilinochchi where Prince Namal was resident for weeks, UPFA lost 30% – 68% while in Jaffna the government lost 26% – 71% and in Mulativu they were clobbered 17% – 82% (statistics taken from Ada Derana).

The great “humanitarian operation with zero civilian casualties” myth broke asunder. This is the theatre where the Channel 4 drama was enacted during the last stages of the war. Amidst many hardships, harassments, murder and unspeakably vicious government propaganda, the Northern voter stood fast, unafraid and unbowed. The carrot would have been too tempting if it was offered in the South. With power well entrenched in the center, in the hands of the King and his royal family, with no hope or clear vision in the horizon they defied all odds.

A betting man would have placed his life’s earnings at least on a close fight. From agricultural equipment to tractors to free rides to fun fair activities to international playgrounds including the kitchen sinks were rejected on a wholesale basis. They extracted their Shakespearian revenge from the King and his family. The return by the King might be too gruesome to witness. They might come in the form of white vans, dogs’ heads, sudden disappearances, or plain murder, for they are obsessed with their own self-righteousness. The defeat of the LTTE gave them that sense of self-righteousness. That went into their blood and marrow. Every high-handed act was justified in the name of that self-righteousness, reminding one of the repugnant demeanor of Goebbels, Sukarno, Suharto, Marcos, Gaddafi and Saddam Hussein.

The Tamil population of the North might suffer the repercussions of their conscience in the short-term. But such a daring and clear display of courage (or stupidity as one pundit has already said) might reap benefits in a mid to long-term fight. As with Shylock in the Merchant of Venice, Tamils too have been more sinned against than having sinned themselves.”

Now it’s up to the Uva province voter. Does he possess the same amount of courage, poise and the enduring mentality to hit back at those who have sinned against him? On Saturday September 20th, the voters in the Badulla and Moneragala districts will go to the polls, not to change regime nor would their vote matter in anything significant in the House of Parliament. Yet if the tables could be turned- although it is highly unlikely that both these districts would turn ‘Green’ in a matter of few months- because everything that could go right for the United National Party (UNP) seems to be going right and everything that could go wrong for the United People’s Freedom Alliance (UPFA) and its candidates, have taken a dramatic turn towards potential disaster. Why are the UPFA candidates resorting to naked thuggery and destroying opponents’ party offices and meetings? The sheer panic that the Government was gripped in was amply demonstrated when it had to go before the Supreme Court to override the decision of the Elections Commissioner that drought-relief offered by the Government in the Moneragala district was ultra vires the election laws. However, as one would expect, the Supreme Court prevailed. The ruling cabal and its henchmen have realized that the worm is beginning to turn and it’s not a good sign for them at all.

In such a potentially exciting scenario, can one expect the Rajapaksas to learn a lesson or two? Will the Sinhalese majority learn a lesson? The Uva voter must be seeing it for themselves how a Provincial administration that was in deep sleep for over five years has suddenly woken up and started implementing an infrastructure project here and another irrigation project there. This sudden love for the Uva voter who has been condemned to the vagaries of the elements for such a long time and the alacrity with which the Government is hurrying to distribute the goodies among voters though being a blatant violation of Election Laws, is laughable but such transparently corrupt practices seem to have reached its end. The people at large are no more afraid to talk against the Government. The media attention paid to the disillusionment with the powers that be is being broadcast over and over again. If the tide has changed, then we would know, or would we? Going by the violence unleashed against anti-Government forces at present would indicate that these gory incidents would continue up to the day of the polling and even on the day of polling. If that happens, are the UNP, JVP and DP ready to take necessary action? Will the voter in Uva defy all odds the same way in which the Jaffna voter rejected this Government?

The long awaited political marriage between Ranil Wickremesinghe and Sajith Premadasa is said to be a done deal. When deals, negotiations, barters, pacts and agreements between politicians and their parties and supporters are consummated, aspirations are bound to rise, especially among supporters, sometimes beyond realistic probabilities and other times they go even beyond the borders of fantasy. One telling example is the status of the United National Party (UNP) in 1970. After governing the country from 1965 to 1970, the UNP suffered a humiliating defeat at the ’70 General Elections. J R Jayewardene, the UNP’s de facto Deputy Leader was clamoring for party reforms, among others. He even went to the extent of calling the Working Committee an anachronism. But the UNP being what it is, managed to patch up all the differences and Dudley/JR combination once again became a reality. But if not for the fact that Dudley did not live beyond the New Year’s Day in 1973, the UNP may never have come to power- even if it did, it was highly unlikely that it could have scored such a massive victory as it did in 1977.

The Uva PC elections are held once again amidst such an uncertain political environment. On the one hand is Harin Fernando, who has done a creditable sacrifice, resigning his seat in Parliament and contesting a Provincial Council election. Only one of three scenarios is possible. The UNP would be soundly defeated once again. The UNP might get a slender majority in both districts and form a UNP-led Provincial Administration and the option number 3 is the Government-backed UPFA would form a Provincial Administration, having gained a very marginal victory at the elections. For the Government to be satisfied, only the first of these three alternatives should materialize. And if that happens, the UNP brand is damaged beyond repair. The other alternatives are a defeat for the governing coalition. But there is another possibility, a fourth one: The Government will realize that they are so unpopular and a victory for them is not within the realm of possibility, in which case there will be a tremendous assault on the rights of the people- secret ballot. So much of violence and intimidation would be unleashed; the polling booths would end up having been deserted by the Opposition polling agents and the Commissioner of Elections would declare the election ‘null and void’. That is a very grim possibility. Let’s hope it won’t come to that.

This appeal is to the Uva voter. A lot rides on you this Saturday, September 20, 2014. Vote without prejudice, without reservations and without fear. Show the rulers that you too have dreams and aspirations and above all else, rights and a will and backbone to exercise those rights.

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