By Aboobacker Rameez –
The recently held General Election results show clearly that the people in Sri Lankan have given an explicitly resounding mandate to the ruling party-United National Front, to perpetuate its silent revolution that took place in January 8, 2015. It is, indeed, notable that many survey conducted prior to the election suggested that the UNF would form the government with the coalition partners and thus, the election results confirmed the prediction. There are many lessons that one can learn from the recently concluded election. Some of them are analyzed below:
Defeat of Mahinda Rajapaksa
Ordeal that MR went through in January 8 continued in this election too. He was comprehensively defeated, despite he contested in Kurunagala district, the third massive voter base in Sri Lanka, with the intention of obtaining convincing victory at the district to demand for the Prime Minister post; however, all his efforts went in vain. The reports suggest that total number of votes that the UPFA obtained this time is less than that of the Presidential election results held in January and his entry into Kurunagala district did not make any major difference in the votes of UPFA. Although many theories are touted for the defeat of UPFA, one would not deny the fact that the internal dispute of UPFA led to such debacle.
Extremist forces are decimated
The significant turn of events in the election was the comprehensive defeat of nationalistic or extremist forces like BBS. It contested in 16 districts and secured only 20377 nationwide which was hardly enough for a seat. Gnanasara Thero, who is well-known for his anti-Muslim rhetoric and is alleged to be the architect of Aluthgama violence occurred in 15 June, 2014, obtained only 5727 preferential votes in Kaluthura district. This goes to show that the people in South do not subscribe to their rhetoric on Sinhala supremacism, nationalism and anti-minority stand. However, it should be noted that 20000 is no small number and all those voted them seem to have approved their ideology which is based on preaching hatred about minorities under the guise of Sinhala nationalism and patriotism. It is not the number of their vote that counts, but their voice, because a lot of them are vocal activists who convey hateful message to the larger masses. It is indeed imperative on the part of law enforcement authorities and the new government to ensure such hatred and lies spewed by such extremist forces against minorities are ceased forthwith. It is also important for the civil society organizations representing the minority communities to engage with a larger majority community to expose the reality and alienate such extremist forces. The election results also show very clearly that the extremist forces in the North backed by the Diaspora and other elements were comprehensively defeated and that the Tamil people rally behind the TNA.
Lessons for Muslim MPs
Although 21 Muslims MPs have been selected to the parliament via different parties, the election results reveal that Muslim MPs contested in the UPFA, who turned a blind eye when the atrocities against the Muslims by the extremist forces were at peak with the tacit approval of Mahinda regime and that they extended their unequivocal support to MR, were largely defeated by the people. Athaullah, Hisbullah, and Cader are some of the defeated MPs who paid the penalty for what they did during the Mahinda regime. It is ironic, however, some of them are now taken into the parliament via national list which is a bad precedent.
It was pointed out by many that the government that ruled the country over the last six months, despite its lapses and controversies in certain issues, was able to restore rule and law, brought the corrupted elements to book, bring down the high rocketing cost of living to certain extent, restore media freedom and so on and so forth. We are optimistic that the same would be perpetuated by the new government and focusing on socio-economic and educational development aspects to move forward the country in a positive direction is absolutely paramount.
*The author is a Senior Lecturer in Sociology at South Eastern University of Sri Lanka. He could be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org