“The people are the masters” Political Philosopher Edmund Burke
By Siva Sivapragasam
Sixty six year old Ranil Wickremesinghe, leader of the United National Party and son of famous Press baron Esmond Wickremesinghe has led the UNP to a historic victory at the Sri Lankan polls defeating UPFA strongman Mahinda Rajapakse’s dream of becoming Prime Minister.
Ranil Wickremesinghe has displayed his political acumen as a master strategist and a mature politician during his election campaign in wooing all communities in a multi-community country to vote for a new Sri Lanka as against the racist policies spat out at meetings by Rajapakse and his cohorts who depended on a mixture of Sinhala nationalism and the so called threat to the sovereignty of the country. The result was an almost complete vote of the minorities to the UNF. The majority Sinhala community too has now proved to the world that they are not prepared to buy the communal cry. The voters wanted Sri Lanka turned into a decent country that respects the rights of all the communities and safeguards the democratic rights of the people. Wickremesinghe is a product of the prestigious Royal College and a lawyer too.
The Tamil community voted with one voice to elect the TNA to Parliament which will probably have nearly fifteen seats (including national list members) in the legislature. The election campaign of the TNA to elect them to represent the Tamil community as one group has received the unanimous approval of the Tamils.
Twice elected and twice defeated former President Mahinda Rajapakse has to sulk now probably as a backbencher in Parliament losing all privileges offered to a past President.
Rajapakse who had retired from politics after a stunning defeat in the Presidential elections was dragged into politics again by some discarded politicians who gave Rajapakse false hopes of victory. They imported crowds for meetings in buses and convinced Rajapakse that he had a mammoth following to become the Prime Minister after the elections. Veteran politician he was, Rajapakse unfortunately fell into their trap.
Voters were injected with the corruption and nepotism that were prevalent during the Rajapakse regime and were not prepared to taste it again.
A political analyst in Colombo told “Monsoon Journal” that Rajapakse would have found a page in history as a leader who ended a thirty year war had he retired graciously from politics after the Presidential electoral defeat. Now, he has to be a backbencher politician and also possibly face UN war crime charges hanging above him like “the sword of Damocles”.
The UPFA defeat can be attributed to the allegations of corruption, violent intimidation of political opponents, attacks on journalists, growing resentment among Tamils and Muslims and mounting sectarian violence that existed during the two-times Rajapakse regime.
The UNP received a total of 5,098,916 votes and won 93 seats (excluding the national list), thereby becoming the largest single party in the next parliament. The UPFA won 4,732,664 votes and won 83 seats. The ITAK won 14 seats while the JVP could manage only 4 seats. The EPDP and the SLMC won 1 seat each.
The UNP obtained a landslide victory in the Colombo District with a massive 640,743 votes.
Members elected in the Jaffna District were as follows
1. S Sridaran 72158
2. M Senadhiraja 58782
3. M Sumandiran 58043
4. D Siddharthan 53743
5. E Sarawanabawan 43719
The United National Party leader Ranil Wickremesinghe is set to take oaths as the Prime Minister of Sri Lanka before President Maithripala Sirisena soon. The new cabinet of Ministers is to be appointed later. The UNP is expected to end up with about 115 seats in Parliament including members in the National List and probably obtain support from the TNA and some defections from the UPFA too.
After the results were announced, Wickremesinghe has called upon everyone to work together as one family to build a new Sri Lanka for the future.
This year’s election has proved that the power of the ballot is stronger than that of the bullet.