9/22/2009

Peep into the democracy of Sri Lanka through Southern Provincial Council election


(September 22, 2009 - Lanka Polity) The Southern Provincial Council election is providing the world a panoramic window to peep into the state of the democracy in Sri Lanka. These days, a candidate of the ruling Sri Lanka Freedom Party (SLFP) led by President Mahinda Rajapakse is hitting headlines. The candidate, Nishantha Muthuhettigama is seeking representation from Galle district vowing to be the next Chief Minister of the Provincial Council by hook or by crook.

Talking about his qualifications for the post, he says that he will be the second Chief Minister who can fire guns with both hands. The first, he says, is Eastern Provincial Council Chief Minister Sivanesathurai Chandrakanthan alias Pillaiyan who was a child soldier in Tamil rebel Liberation Tigers of Tamil Ealam (LTTE).

Muthuhettigama is now in remand following publicly blaming police at a press conference last week and Criminal Investigation Department is to grill him over his statements. This man's brawls are not with opposition. He clashes with two candidates of his own party prominently. One is former Miss Sri Lankan 22-year-old Anarkali Akarsha, who has obtained the SLFP ticket reportedly with the backing of the President Mahinda Rajapakse's eldest son Namal Rajapakse. The other candidate is the ex-CEO of the state-owned budget airline Mihin named after the President, Sajin Vaas Gunawardhana who uses even a helicopter for his campaign although he should be responsible for massive loss of public money due to the losses of the airline. He is directly supported by the President and poised to win with huge majority. Muthuhettigama is accusing that Presidential Security Division personnel are in his campaign.

The ruling alliance has not named a Chief Minister candidate and the person that achieves the highest percentage of preferential votes is likely to be given the post. There are Galle, Mathara and  Hambanthota districts in the Southern Province and a close relative of Rajapakse family is contesting for Mathara district with the widest possibility of becoming the next Chief Minister.

President Mahinda Rajapakse's favorites can easily be elected to the Provincial Councils and they immediately be given portfolios to start a fast growing career. They are to be the handpicked candidates of the Rajapakse regime at the upcoming general election. They pose a severe threat to the political  existence of the old political stalwarts of the SLFP.

During the past years, the ruling party that started with a single vote majority in the parliament has bought MPs from major opposition United National Party (UNP) and almost all the other political parties representing the parliament. The majority of the MPs in many districts are now government ministers and they will have to fight tooth and nail among themselves to be elected for another term.

Government uses all public property including state-owned media for its election campaigns and the opposition cannot match with it. People normally like to vote to a winning party and the UNP lacks luster to build up confidence among the voters. However, there is a possibility of drastic crossovers from the government ranks to the opposition at a future election since many a seniors of the SLFP are disgruntled with the party leader President Mahinda Rajapakse's policy of favoring a few handpicked and letting loose the rest to kill each other for preferential votes.

Meanwhile, reliable sources say that the President is considering to hold the Presidential before the parliamentary election to seek election for the second time after clearing that he may not lose years from his first term due to premature election for the second term. There are talks among the opposition parties to field a viable opposition common candidate to give a fight to the President Mahinda Rajapakse who is selling the war victory over Tamil rebels to the Sinhala majority voters. No wonder if the opposition common candidate will be another war hero.

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