Speaking at an event organized by the People’s Movement for Democracy, Dissanayake recalls the main slogans that were deployed during the past elections that have resulted in major regime changes. “Elections that resulted in major regime changes were held in 1970, 1977, 1994 and 2015. The main slogans deployed during the first three elections were to do with hunger; but this year the election took a completely different turn. It was about democracy, freedom and bringing those accused of corruption to book.
He also points out that in elections where all other regimes were defeated; the electoral movement was strong and stable enough to challenge the prevalent government unlike at the recent Presidential election.
“In 1977 JR Jayewardene’s electoral campaign stood strong against Sirimavo Bandaranaike’s campaign. In 1994 CBK was a strong contender against the UNP regime. . . But at the recent elections, the opposing movement was not comparatively strong enough to challenge the Rajapaksa regime. The actual work done within the electoral movement in President Sirisena’s campaign was very limited,” he said.
Anura K also notes that all the candidates who led the campaigns for major regime changes were charismatic figures that included CBK who was known as Viharamahadevi and Rajapaksa as a ‘son of Ruhuna’.
“But the role and the background of President Sirisena as a candidate were not that strong. This is not a criticism but he was only perceived as a humble figure and not through the eyes that masses usually saw the leaders. Therefore, as an individual the contribution Sirisena made to the electoral campaign personally, was comparatively very limited,” he added.
But with all those wining factors missing in the election campaign of the Opposition, what prompted the victory that defeated the Rajapaksas? “Because for the first time in Sri Lanka, the masses voluntarily and actively engaged in the electoral system without any inducement of the above mentioned genres,” he said emphasizing on the fact that it is not due to any action of President Sirisena himself or any party, of the common Opposition movement.
He went on to criticize the statement made by Opposition Leader Nimal Siripala de Silva of the decision made to allow the passage of 19th amendment only if it is introduced simultaneously with the electoral reforms .
“When a draft bill is presented before the Parliament, the accepted procedure does not involve a discussion of it soon after it’s read out. But for the first time n history, the Opposition Leader stood up and said he would not support it unless the 19th amendment is introduced together with electoral reforms. This is uttered by Jacob but the voice is Esau’s,” he said.
The JVP Leader points out that MP Nimal Siripala has not made any statements with regard to pushing for electoral reforms during the past few years and points out he never pushed for any such action even when the government in which he was part of, was equipped with a two thirds majority.
“He hasn’t expressed any interest in electoral reforms even while he served as the Chief Government Whip. So then why express a sudden interest now?” he questioned while adding the truth is that a conspiracy is being formulated from the topmost positions of the government to disrupt the passage of the 19th amendment.
He said if that is not the truth, MP Nimal and the President should clarify as to why the former has been suddenly interested electoral reforms. “How is the cabinet being subjected to the whims of a person who doesn’t have a major people’s mandate? Why is a person who never had any interest in electoral reforms suddenly making negotiations with concern to its passage? If President Sirisena is not behind this issue, he should speak up and clear himself,” he said.
Anura Kumara went on to state that it is only then the JVP would decide whether or not to remain in the National Executive Council chaired by the President. “The JVP is not ready to discuss with conspirators at the helm. It is our responsibility to reveal such conspirators!” he remarked.