Colombo Telegraph

Two Chief Ministers In One Province – Wayamba?

By Lal Keerthie Fernando

Lal Keerthie Fernando

There is open mischief when it comes to electoral seat placements in Wayamba. In particular, the Puttalam District. For years, Puttalam district has remained dwarfed on its electoral rights to Kurunegala district. No matter what…, at the end of any election, Kurunegala district ran away with the challenge cup – the Chief Ministers’ Post!!

The two districts, Puttalam and Kurunegala, area wise; Puttalam has an area of 3072 sq.km, of which Wilpattu National Park, 1320 sq.km (327,000) acres and Kurunegala 4816 sq.km. Puttalam district with a population of 778,153 and Kurunegala district with 1,611,000.

Puttalam district have remained with 5 electoral seats through out and at the last 2015 elections, Presidential and Parliamentary , there were: Puttalam (125,702); Anamaduwa(112,978); Chilaw(118,171); Nattandiya(89,975); Wennappuwa(106,183) – electors. This gave a total of 553,009 electors in the Puttalam district. By demarcation of above district; the district will come to remain with 5 additional seats, thereby, 10 electoral seats. Mind you…, there were almost 10-12,000 moslem refugees in Puttalam; refugees in their own country, who never had the franchise. Above break down would give an average 55,300 electors after demarcation per electorate.

Kurunegala distict have remained with 14 electoral seats through out, with a total electors of the 14 seats as 1,266,443. Presidential and Parliamentary elections(2015), didn’t show much difference, with 6.64% in favour of ex-President, Mahinda Rajapaksa (MR), and 4.16% in favour of UNP at Parliamentary elections in Wayamba (both districts). At the Presidential elections, Maithripala Sirisena (MS), received 50.04% , higher than (MR) in the Puttalam district and at General elections (GE), UNP received 50.40% higher than UPFA in same district.

Elections in 2001 & 2004, figures show that Puttalam district remained with a definite political “say”, but remained un-accounted for in political decisions, continuously over the years. Obviously, these practices bound to impose some form of immaturity for better governance as partners, while Kurunegala district calling the shots as a dominant partner !! As it is now, Puttalam district only participates in representative democracy, on behalf of the system !!

Both districts have worked well together, depending on what type of Chief Minister (CM) in Kurunegala is in charge. Former (CM), Gamini Jayawickrema Perera (GJP), present Minister of Food and services, had a colleague in the Puttalam district, Festus, and with the UNP in power, matters were much easier. Festus, was an asset for the Puttalam district. Creating a leadership via an equal franchise is envisaged for and on behalf of the Puttalam district.

A different (CM), commanding a volatile majority from the Kurunegala district could show a negative difference, at a time or in future, when cooperation is much more needed on equal strength and understanding, with devolution and development, emerging in the two districts. What is proposed here is:

Demarcate Puttalam district electorates, increasing from 5 to 10 seats and consolidate the 14 seats in Kurunegala district to 10 seats from present 14. Last time, demarcation of the electoral system took place was in 1958 with the Delimitation Commission. Here again…, the concept had it`s logical meaning, in sustaining the rights of the voter, the individual.

Consolidate Kurunegala district: Dodangaslanda (70,204) & Mawathagama(90,682); Wariyapola (76,817) & Panduwasnuwara(74,100); Bingiriya(88,306) & Katugampola(94,105); Polgahawela(77,321)& Kurunegala(89,332) – electors. This would give an average 165,317, per electorate after demarcation and the total number of electorates brought down to 10 from present 14.

What does it entail? Isn’t it high time, based on the plebiscite that a party leader who holds the majority will of the electorate, in that district becomes the Chief Minister of that district? One for Puttalam district and the other for Kurunegala district? Intriguing complexities of governance and coordination now requiring more attention, owing to the fact, Sri Lanka’s smallness, to be sustained by it’s classification in every sphere of life in Wayamba, demands what is needed.

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