By Kusal Perera –
President Rajapaksa is already on his campaign journey up North. He boarded the Yaal Devi train that reached Jaffna after a 24 year lapse, handed over pawned gold jewellery to 25 individuals in Jaffna (MoD says they have identified 2,377 such owners who had pawned their jewellery to LTTE banks) to mark such handover, toured Delft island to check development, opened 03 “Mahindodaya Technology labs” in Delft, Kayts and Karainagar schools, visited Nagadeepa temple and Amman kovil in Jaffna, doled out 100 million rupees to 1,250 displaced persons in a ceremony at Iranamadu, gave out 20,000 land permits in Kilinochchi, handed over 02 “Mahindodaya Technology labs” to Kilinochchi Hindu and Waddakachchi MV and more were promised on development. Abolition of the Executive Presidency he said, will be only possible if “Eelam” is given up totally (Wouldn’t know by whom and didn’t know the Executive Presidency is a Sinhala extremist counter to Tamilean issue).
Though a presidential poll is only speculated and his third time candidacy is now dumped in controversy, he had begun his campaign to at least retain the 18 p.c the UPFA polled 01 year ago at the NPC elections. He spent 03 whole days in North and he does it his way, the only way he knows despite the fact it failed even in Uva PC elections this time.
Unlike his closest stooges, President Rajapaksa knows quite well, this time as in 2010 January when he rode the waves of Sinhala patriotism, the Sinhala voters will not carry him along. He therefore has to count minority votes as important in a coming election, for him to ride home safe. If one counts what the Rajapaksas lost at the Uva PC elections, the decline in Sinhala Buddhist vote is clear. In 2009 August, Moneragala an over 90 p.c Sinhala Buddhist district gave the UPFA, in essence the Rajapaksas, a stunning 81.3 p.c and the whole Uva province a staggering 72.4 p.c of the votes polled. But not this time.
That same people in Uva changed tracks this time. The UPFA lost 21.2 p.c of its votes, sliding down to 51.2 p.c. On district basis, 20.4 p.c of the Badulla voters and 23.0 p.c of the Moneragala voters had left the UPFA ranks when results were announced. Losing over 21 p.c of the votes in a predominantly Sinhala Buddhist rural society, is no small defeat for the Rajapaksas. With all their hard line Sinhala Buddhist arrogance in governance, the common thinking in Colombo is, Sinhala South as a rule decides for Rajapaksa. Disproving this myth, 21 p.c of the rural Sinhala Buddhist vote left the Rajapaksas, even without the UNP offering alternatives or substantial promises during Uva elections.
It’s not just Harin that made 21.2 percent of the Uva voters to desert the UPFA and the Rajapaksas. There were other serious and major reasons for the widening gap between the Rajapaksa regime and the Uva voter. They did not leave the Rajapaksas because this regime is less Sinhala Buddhist now than it was in 2009 May. In fact the Rajapaksas are far more racist than they were, when the war was concluded. They have consistently denied space for reconciliation and Tamil political grievances and runs militarily controlled provinces up North and in the East. They have denied the Tamil voter who elected the Northern Provincial Council with an overwhelming majority to have a functioning provincial council. All of it is being placed in the Sinhala South as safeguards for a “unitary” Sinhala State. In the South, they have allowed a rabid Sinhala Buddhist extremist gang to violently oppose Muslims and Christian communities, with very visible State sponsorship though undeclared. Yet brutalisation of the State for Sinhala Buddhist dominance has not been able to hold the Sinhala Buddhist constituency in favour of this Rajapaksa rule.
Why have these very open Sinhala Buddhist rule failed to retain the Sinhala Buddhist voter with the Rajapaksa regime? A Sinhala regime that boasts about massive infrastructure projects as “development” in effect should keep the Sinhala Buddhist voter with them. Yet in reality they have failed. Priorities of the Sinhala Buddhist constituency have now changed to that of a secure and a decent life. Sinhala Buddhists have not been spared of continuously increasing cost of living where every consumer item carry around 40 p.c as government taxes within its price. Sinhala Buddhists are forced to accept a regime that is awfully corrupt and is controlled by a few whose wealth can never be assessed or will be declared. Can even a Sinhala Buddhist society imagine a Sinhala Buddhist whose monthly income was only Rs.1,250, who gives up employment and takes to full-time politics, telling a Magistrate, he is currently paying his wife a monthly maintenance cost of Rs.12 lakhs for separation ? Such is the “small time corruption” in this Sinhala Buddhist regime. Sinhala Buddhist politics obviously has no relevance now.
Again and on top of it, despite the bragging, this Rajapaksa regime defeated “Tamil Tigers” and brought peace to a country that was warring for 30 years, bombs would not go off in trains and in Pettah anymore now and the Central Bank will not be attacked again, there is a growing sense of insecurity in society. Crime and lawlessness has overtaken life everywhere. Breakdown of social values, accelerated loss of a collective conscience, growing rate of child abuse and murder of children, increased rate of suicide among youth, rape and murder of women, extortions, custodial killings and growing crime have left a total loss of faith and trust in law enforcement and the judiciary. Politicised, inefficient and corrupt too, the judiciary and the police create a synergy that pervades society with a sense of insecurity, a threat to life once again. This time, in almost every village in the Sinhala South.
The Rajapaksas are therefore assessed now for what they do not provide the Sinhala majority to earn a decent living in a civilised society. They are assessed on their disregard of people and misrule that turns the Sinhala Buddhist voter into a “protest voter”. That explains in short, why voters from the UPFA ranks in Uva made an exodus in big percentage. Why, Sinhala Buddhist hype and the unitary Sinhala State is no more a valid option. Uva people cannot be alone in such judgement of this Rajapaksa regime to leave Sinhala Buddhist slogans aside. Frustrated they are not looking for another Sinhala Buddhist leader. They now want answers to their threatened and condemned lives. They have realised Sinhala Buddhist triumphalism is not going to give them answers to issues that create mayhem around them. That change, as Uva shows, runs close to or over 20 p.c and that is a massive shift against the Rajapaksa regime.
What is the UNP doing to win them over? Absolutely nothing. Latest news reports say, the UNP is waiting for a “Joint Opposition” to decide on a Common Candidate. And what will this “Common” (?) Candidate offer the people? Probably the hacked promise of “abolishing the Executive Presidency” and getting back to a parliament. The only possible compromise among them and not necessarily the need of the people. Promise of a parliament that completely failed twice here from 1948 to 1972 and from 1972 to 1978. A parliamentary system that delivers nothing to the post WW II British people and in India, a Lok Sabha that gets richer at every election with criminals; 34 p.c of its MPs facing criminal charges in the present parliament (2004 – 24 p.c and 2009 – 30 p.c). Getting back to a parliament therefore is no guarantee the next government will be different and clean in ruling the country.
There is no seriousness too in how the UNP leadership is calculating a victory. The grand old party that was formed 66 years ago for national unity, does not think nationally anymore. Most Colombo based key players think the UNP should play for the Sinhala Buddhist vote. Think harping on corruption is more important than programmes and reforms. What ails the UNP is their frustration in not being able to access State power since late 1994. They are in a mighty hurry to grab political power “by hook or by crook”. Most therefore including General Secretary Attanayake therefore believe a collage of different Sinhala personalities, including even the BBS and whatever their baggage would provide a large platform to attract enough Sinhala voters to win elections. Few dozen hacked politicians on a large platform, calling themselves leaders do not constitute broad unity or a grand alliance among people. The call for grand alliances and joint oppositions are old fashioned strategy. Today, most leaders collected into such alliances don’t have people. They have only a party label. They can fill the decorated stage, but not the polling booths.
Broad unity, a grand alliance or even a joint Opposition can have only one single political definition in present day Sri Lanka. Today, when the Sinhala Buddhist constituency is showing a 20 p.c departure from racist politics, a broad unity or a grand alliance is one that should bring PEOPLE, Sinhala, Tamil and Muslim people together and not rustifying leaders looking for platforms. Such alliances can only be achieved with a clearly spelt out programme giving space and winning trust of all ethnic and religious communities. Unless the UNP works on such strategy, they will not be able to gain 40 p.c from the 17 districts outside North and East. It is now necessary to gain 40 p.c from the Southern constituency, which is not an impossible target, with around 20 p.c of the votes dropping out of this regime’s worn out Sinhala Buddhist project.
Therefore if the UNP is now willing to leave aside all unprincipled alliances and project themselves as a political party serious about the future of this country and comes up with a programme with far reaching reforms that would effectively address lawlessness, would lift the judiciary into efficient and clean functioning, would propose a more reasonably fair development policy framework with livelihood to rural youth and women, a more rational approach to education, health and commuter transport, they would certainly have 40 p.c. from Sinhala South, given the gap the Rajapaksas keep widening between them and the Sinhala Buddhist voter. The balance 11 to 12 p.c. vote will have to come from North and East Tamil people who now have a strong, single common voice and the Muslim people who are now almost rudderless suspecting their own leaders. That needs a UNP candidate who would be seen and accepted by the Muslim people with trust as one who would not allow the BBS types to roam free. A candidate, the Tamil people could accept as one, with whom they could at least sit for serious negotiations.
Harin in Uva proved another factor that is important. A leader is not one who “follow the people”. But one who would lead the people and dares to challenge the status quo. UNP now needs such a national LEADER with such grit and determination. Not one who gets into compromises for survival. A leader who could reach, not only the deserting UPFA Sinhala voter but those in the North and East too. The minorities. That’s the “Common Candidate” who could make the difference at an election. Inability to grasp this changing scenario, the perennial Sinhala thinking in a marooned island, is what holds back the UNP this time too in winning an election. Their hesitancy in standing firm with a programme.
Paul Newman / October 16, 2014
Ayya from where do you find the elusive “common candidate”? Is there one? In India Modi started his campaign more than a year before the elections and he was well known as the CM of Gujarat. In SL the situation is different, people need to cash in on the anti-incumbency and find an ‘Acceptable’ candidate!
Amarasiri / October 16, 2014
Dear Kusal Perera –
“Yet brutalisation of the State for Sinhala Buddhist dominance has not been able to hold the Sinhala Buddhist constituency in favor of this Rajapaksa rule.”
Sinhala Buddhists who know their culture and Buddhism, know these are Mara, MaRas who wants to cling to power, and use Buddhism to their advantage.
Their strategy of using Racism and Religion Intolerance in the name of Sinhala and in the name of Buddhism, is not really working. Had it worked, they would have retained their percentage from 2009.
No decent Sinhala Buddhist should want these Maras back.
The problem is with the Opposition. They need to get their act together and clean up this Mara Dynasty that is destroying Buddhism,
Kusal, Can you be the Author of Common sense, 2014 for Lanka, to free Lanka of Mara?
Whoever opposition candidate comes forward, there need to be exposure of MaRa corruption and nepotism. There is a dire need for a Common Sense Pamphlet, like what Thomas Paine did in 1776 for the American revolution, exposing King George III.
What can writers and other do? Expose.. Expose and Expose the Mara regime. What can the writers do? Expose. What can the people do? Vote against MaRa and the criminal gang.
Kusal Perera, thanks for a very good analysis. Can you be the Anonymous Author and Produce a Sri Lankan version of Common Sense in Sinhala, Tamil and English? You will do as much service to Lanka, the Land of Native Veddah Aethho, just like Thomas Paine did for America and France.You can expand this write up, and get there.
Say, Because I have Common Sense, I will not vote for Mr. Rajapaksa and their criminal cronies for a continuation of a Family Dynasty, and say that Sri Lanka is a Republic.
Rajapaksa had the opportunity. The power corrupted them. The People are sick of them. They even used Buddhism towards their ends. Even Sinhala Buddhists are fed up them, and they are showing their true colors.
An Anonymous Author like Thomas Paine is needed with a Common Sense Pamphlet to expose the King, King George, the Rajapaksa Clan. Read, the Common Sense Pamphlet , by Thomas Paine, that inspired the American Revolution along with the other events. Common Sense (pamphlet)
Produce a Commons sense Pamphlet for Sri Lanka and say why it is in the best interest of the people of Sri Lanka to remove the King, aka Rajapaksa Dynasty from power and let the Republic be a Republic and Not a dynasty. This Pamphlet, in Sinhala, Tamil and English, need to be sent to each and every Sri Lankan Citizen, just like Thomas Paine’s Common Sense pamphlet.
K.A Sumanasekera / October 16, 2014
UNP Deputy Secretary, Akila Kariyawasam was exposed as a big butt Liar by none other than the veteran Vellala Politician Mr Anadasagaree..
Mr Anandasagaree thanked the President for handing back the Gold which were pawned at the Bank Prabakaran…
He went even further in his letter ,with a humble plea to the President, to reimburse the 3 Sovereigns which late Mr Prabakaranith forcibly took from the Dalits in the North and the East….
What did this idiotic UNP Deputy Sec tell the Elite Broadsheets in Colombo after the President’s visit?..?.
He said the President took the gold which belong to Vellalas and handed over them to the Dalits to win their votes.
Mr Kusul Perera who works closely with the UNP must demand Akila Kariyawasam to withdraw his ignorant and malicious comment and apologize to the poor people in Killinochchi…
punchisingho / October 16, 2014
Sudu Baba / October 17, 2014
Your constant mention of Vellala and Dalits are soooooo boring!
Haven’t you got anything else to say?
The article is about UNP not doing enough to garner the support of the disgruntled voters.
” koheda yanne? Malle pol!”
senaka de Z. Sirwardena / October 16, 2014
‘Somehow Winning’…. Kusal Perera -Colombo Telegraph 16/10/14- (Post Script)
I am writing a few words. But not directly related to the content in the letter yet may have some form of reference. My attention goes to the ‘much-hyped’ about gimmickry drama next on the card of the SL rogue ruler: THE BUDGET!
Before go to wrestle with the upcoming short story to be read in the parliament I would challenge him to go back to, not too far, but to the two previous ones which were 2013 and 2014. Mr. President, what did you say in those budget. Complete irrelevant! There was nothing said in those budgets were given or implemented.
As much as it is a useless then it would be utterly useless in this time too. There is a common belief in our SL people that when it comes to budget time there will be host of goodies and concessions to the masses. It was only in the past. Under the present ‘shaky-government business’ (policy-less)there won’t be anything this man can offer to people. Even if he gives something he will take back from people within weeks in 10 fold cost back in to his pocket. Mind you, be careful of such time-bombs wrapped in the budget wrapping paper!
Upul / October 16, 2014
Your analysis of the opposition vulnerabilities and shortcomings is on the money! Unfortunately, Sri Lanka is not about to give birth to a Lincoln, Churchill or Gandhi in the near future. We seem to thrive on breeding Weerawansas, Mervins and Basils…
The UNP should be expected to assert itself within opposition ranks, given its national status. However, Ranil and his cohorts have got used to playing Rip-Van-Winkle for so long, they prefer to wait until someone else picks up the ball!
RW runs the party exactly like his uncle did. Divide and rule! Set a fire here, create an issue there…and watch the tamasha. He enjoys the perks of Opposition Leader without any of the stress of managing the Opposition.
There has to be pressure for things to happen and look at who is below him. Ravi, Mangala, Tissa… Harin is a relative new-comer and hopefully he keeps his hands clean!
Ravi has still to answer the question of how he received Millions of $ from Raj Rajaratnam.
Mangala has still to reveal how the money was handed over to the LTTE by bag-boy Tiran Alles.
Tissa should see his psychiatrist quickly, if the recent reports about his overtures to the BBS have any truth them.
The JVP chaps know they are irrelevant on a national scale but thrive on using the media to project a larger-than-life image. They run an efficient operation and the UNP will do well with a similar media unit. The two parties are like oil and water and shall never mix.
Fonseka should zip up and do what he is asked to do, to remain useful. He is no leader, has no political acumen and consequently will earn no support from the masses. The TNA, CWC and SLMC are useful in the narrow confines of their communal politics.
That is the joint opposition for you. Leave your good manners, ethics and principles at the door step, and walk in holding your nose….
The stink notwithstanding, most of us who comment on CT (Other than K.A.S) seem to think it will be an improvement to the Rajapakses.. go figure that one out!
punchinilame / October 16, 2014
Another point in the declining SB Votes is the wooing of the NP tamils
by the return of pawned jewellery – after 5 years; and kept back for
this very purpose? The Land Licences will be bargained for votes under
Another sector to make up the decline was to use a toilet stooge
Ranjith in a trip to Italy to woo the Pope in high hopes for
Catholic votes all-island.
MR is desperate. He will have to win at any cost . Lets await the
The rats are already jumping ship: [Edited out]
Will these rats get UNP Nomination?
punchisingho / October 16, 2014
Who is Mr. Anandasangaree?
punchisingho / October 16, 2014
Who is this man you call Mr. Anandasangaree?
K.A Sumanasekera / October 17, 2014
My Elders tellme he was/is the leader of the Tamil United Liberation Front.
Yuu may get a second opinion from NV in case….
Obviously it must represent the poor inhabitants among the Tamil population.
Otherwise why would he ask to reimburse just only the value of 3 Sovereigns to his people.
When it is just a week’s wage in the GTF Diaspora which now is now totally affiliated with the TNA.
And their CM wouldn’t even want to accept One Billion from the President to spend for the inabitants in the North.
saman / October 17, 2014
UNP cannot defeat Mahinda alone. Because Mahinda is more popular than Ranil . They should go for common candidate. The best person is Sobitha thera. He can gather all anti Mahinda forces specially SLFP chandrika faction and can obtain Singhala Buddhist votes even. Hela urumaya, jvp, Fonseka all will join behind Sobitha thera.
Sama / October 17, 2014
Srilankens are though predominntatly buddhists, I really dont think that non buddhists would support Rev Sobitha thero. But as we saw lately that all parties against UPFA came under one umbrella we never know how they would react. European style of Opinionl call tob e carried out to just estimate what the people s stand is. Rural buddhists would be offered SIL REDDA, TOILETS, MOTORCYCLES and other items similar to that to grab their vote and mind changes. Only way out would be Chandrika to be common canddiate making it very clear that she has to resign after 6 months inferior period. She would do genuninely and her fraction in UPFA will do everything to see defeat of Meeharaka Rajapakshe
saman / October 17, 2014
If Ranil is going to abolish executive presidency there is no point in contesting for that. He can become pri minister under new constitution. He should allow winning common candidate to contest against Mahinda who can gather all anti Mahinda forces together.
Dr. Rajasingham Narendran / October 17, 2014
The UNP will lose the coming presidential election, only if,
1. It wants to lose it through utter stupidity and/or,
2. If the polls and the vote counting are subverted to the very extreme.
The following remarks I am increasingly hearing, point to a UNP landslide:
1.” Ranil horek nemey ( Ranil is not a thief “)
2. ” Ranil nayangwa badagana inna nahe ( Ranil will not be hugging his relatives)”
3. ‘Api aliyata thamai chanda dhenney ( we will vote for the elephant)”
4. Ranilta thamai rata dhang divunu keranda puluvang ( only Ranil can improve this country)”
Ranil should be the opposition candidate and the opposition should contest under the elephant symbol.
The people are not debating and expressing opinions on the constitution or the executive presidency. They want honest and effective governance, development that is meaningful to them, capacity to live well within their income, no corruption, no bribery, no nepotism and of course societal values that are consonant with what their culture and religions dictate. They want MR and his government out.
The UNP and Ranil should keep their ears to the ground hear the rumble of the approaching stampede to their side and lead it from the front, with policies that are in tune with what the public is hungry for. It is an election that is already won for them. MR and his government are the worm eaten and rotten apples that are ready to fall.
” Vox populi, Vox Dei” (The Voice of the people is the Voice of God).