By Vishwamithra1984 –
“The opportunity to secure ourselves against defeat lies in our own hands, but the opportunity of defeating the enemy is provided by the enemy himself.” ~Sun Tzu
What materialized at the elections held on Saturday, September 20 was the possibility number 3 as reasoned out in my last week’s column: “the Government-backed UPFA would form a Provincial Administration, having gained a very marginal victory at the elections.” The United National Party (UNP) came quite close to grabbing the Badulla district but fell short by a mere three percentage (3%) points behind the United People’s Freedom Alliance (UPFA). However, the combined opposition scored a slender victory in the district by gaining just above 50% of the total valid poll. It is a remarkable performance aided and abetted by many factors amongst which the most prominent being the birth of a potential political superstar- Harin Fernando, who undoubtedly would be an object of envy and a target of vitriol, from both inside and outside the UNP. Harin Fernando needs to cope with that kind of internal back-stabbing, petty jealousies and regional mud-slinging. But he must also remember that he should make all efforts not to allow what happened to Dayasiri Jayasekera who was considered in terms of national leadership tiers but now has been relegated to a Province and is fading away from ‘national’ significance, to happen to him.
But let us not paralyze ourselves by analyzing the results to an absurd degree. Such deep analysis would only cause many more unanswerable questions to spring up rather than real and practical solutions. In a very broad sense, the vote in the Uva Province showed more of disillusion with the Government, the UPFA candidates and the general direction the country is sliding with the steering being actually handled by the Government and its henchmen. In addition, the President’s so-called invincibility and unquestioned appeal is certainly diminishing. He is no more considered a sure bet, at least by the Badulla voters. For instance, President Mahinda Rajapaksa in Welimada alone had no less than eight (8) pocket meetings, which are usually attended and addressed by the local candidates. And the UPFA lost the Welimada seat. In the Badulla district, the combined Opposition obtained more than 50.65% as against 44.63% (UPFA+NFF) and when the 4.73% that went to others is allotted, the anti-government vote becomes 55.38% which is quite sizeable. At the last Presidential Elections, Mahinda received 53.23% as against the combined opposition candidate Sarath Fonseka who got only 44.55%. Almost an exact reversal has happened. Badulla district has more than 30% of minority votes of whom Estate Tamils are the great majority. In addition, the Muslim minority vote too is close to 5% and it is quite obvious that wherever the minorities play a role, Mahinda Rajapaksa is bound to lose ground.
In the Moneragala district where Sinhalese Buddhists account for more than 90% of voters, the UPFA just managed only 58%. If that is the average percentage of voters from that segment, Sinhalese Buddhists, that the UPFA could muster, then they are in deep trouble, which of course depends on the acceptability of Presidential candidate from the Opposition.
The following table of statistics gives a fair picture of what happened in Uva:
The Sri Lankan electorate is increasingly polarized and as a result, it is most prudent to see how the majority Sinhalese Buddhists on the one hand and the Tamil/Muslim minorities on the other would cast their votes in the coming Presidential Elections.
Please peruse the following Table of statistics:
In order to come to that conclusion, I have used the following projections:
Now you’ll see how the battle-lines are drawn. The once-undefeatable Mahinda Rajapaksa has become almost vulnerable given the mood of the country as shown in the Uva PC elections. The UNP is really in the driving seat. What made the electorate change like this?
Among main reasons are:
- Ranil Wickremesinghe has done what he should have done three years ago: Make Sajith Premadasa the Deputy Leader of the party and secure his 100% participation at elections. The Party today looks more united than at any other time since Ranil took over.
- Harin Fernando’s magnetic personality (young blood)
- Increasing economic hardships
- Shedding of the fear psychosis
Now the corporate world will think twice before refusing financial aid to the UNP. Senior Ministers who are rotting away in government benches might rethink their or their offsprings’ political future. But the UNP and its leadership cannot afford a win’s rest. They must unleash their forces through the length and breadth of the country. Take a lesson from the Master, J R Jayewardene. At last there seems to be light at the end of the proverbial tunnel. The Rajapaksa myth is brittle and beginning to crack.
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