A real drama behind the controversial order to sabotage election process

Who sent the secret govt. document to Sajith in mid of political meeting?

Two face political strategy of SLPP exposed

Everyone should think that election is held in a bankrupt country. The President has not yet fully resolved the issues. There are a number of special programs entrusted to the 25 district secretaries by the President. The district secretaries are doing this after abandoning all that work. If they give up, the politicians will be beaten back by the public. Here all the district governors are working in the midst of difficulties.

They don’t have paper to make a photocopy. The same is the case with the 378 Divisional Secretariats. If someone says that there is an election in this background, I think that the anti-democratic sections in the village will start canvassing from house to house. When it starts, none of you will be able to democratize the village. It is not under control. In that situation, it is right that the President does not participate in the election. The President has taken on another responsibility. He has to fulfil that responsibility. We need to think about what we are doing as a party….’

Confidential meeting of UNP

This is a special point stated by United National Party Chairman Mr. Vajira Abeywardena during a highly confidential discussion held at the President’s Secretariat on the 7th. President Ranil Wickremesinghe chaired the discussion and UNP stalwarts Vajira Abeywardena, Sagala Ratnayake, Akila Viraj Kariyawasam, Range Bandara and Colombo City Mayor Mrs. Rosy Senanayake also participated. In addition, a group of UNP MPs representing the Colombo Municipal Council also attended. Here, the entire discussion was centred on about postponing the local government elections.

Vajira, UNP Chairman or District sec. spokesperson?

It was in this discussion that Vajira Abeywardena made a statement for the first time on behalf of the district secretaries. Here, the President was also seen making casual comments about postponing the election saying that the government has no money. As well as Rosy, the municipal councilors told the president to somehow postpone this election, and after that they can take the necessary time to strengthen the party.

The Secretary of the Ministry of State Administration and Provincial Councils and Local Government Mr. Neil Bandara Hapuhinna called all the district secretaries to the ministry and held a special discussion on this background. That is where all the efforts made by the government to postpone the local government elections have failed. Actually, even though the trump card used for delaying the election was wasted, the government did not have to face that much shame, but with this incident on Tuesday, the government’s dress was completely washed away and it was seen that it was naked in front of the country and the world. There, after a brief discussion on the preparations for the local government elections, Hapuhinna surprised everyone and took steps to send a letter to all those present. The letter mentioned this.

Hapuhinna Saga

To all District Secretaries,

Local Government Polls 2023

23rapasija:001* of the Cabinet Secretary and the Cabinet decision dated 10.01.2023.

02) I have been informed to order all district secretaries to refrain from accepting candidate election  deposits money for the Local Government Poll 2023 until further notice by the Council of Ministers met on 09.01.2023.

Kind request to act accordingly

Neil Bandara,Hapuhinna

Secretary, Ministry of Public Administration, Home Affairs, Provincial Councils and Local Government.

Accordingly, shortly after Hapuhinna distributed the letter mentioning this fact, many of the district secretaries present at the meeting could be seen questioning the facts contained in this letter. There, they pointed out to Hapuhinna that this letter has no validity as they do not accept the election security deposits expected in a local government election. The district secretaries took steps to point out to Hapuhinna that they accept candidate election deposit money only in general elections and it is done by election officials in local government elections. It was also seen here how some district secretaries expressed their displeasure about giving such a letter by a person like Hapuhinna, who had been the district secretary of Galle district for some time. Also, through this letter, the district secretaries who were present took steps to point out to Hapuhinna how the constitutional law of the country is being violated.

Act as normal

At the same time, another trump card to postpone the local government election was seen to fail immediately. Accordingly, Hapuhinna, who realized that the work had gone wrong, immediately informed the district secretaries as if nothing had happened, to carry on with the future work considering that such a letter had not been received.

A political explosion

Accordingly, this discussion was concluded and Hapuhinna thought that the incident would be over after the meeting was over, saying that the letter should be treated as if it had not been received. But that letter turned into a big political explosion and it took a while for that letter to become the beginning of another chain of events. In a telephone call received from a certain place to Mr. Sajith Premadasa, the leader of the opposition, it was said that a decision has been taken at the cabinet meeting held on Monday to suspend the acceptance of the expected security deposits related to the local government elections. That has been notified in writing. Also, steps were taken to give Hapuhinna’s letter to Sajith at that moment.

Sajith meets party seniors

As soon as this information was received, Sajit immediately called several senior members of the party and several experts in the field of law to discuss this letter. Everyone in the legal field showed legal arguments and emphasized that this letter is completely illegal and that the Secretary of the Ministry of Public Administration has no right to issue such a letter. Moreover, the lawyers pointed out to Sajith that the cabinet cannot take such a decision when the election has been called. Accordingly, the seniors of the party told Sajith to immediately make a special statement about this before the country. The opposition leader, who made a special statement on Tuesday evening informing the country for the first time about this illegal letter, vouched that he would take all possible measures against it.

In this way, with the disclosure of Sajith’s letter postponing the vote for the first time to the country, it was seen that a strong opposition was launched against that letter from various parties. This included Dullas Alahapperuma Party representing the opposition, the Sri Lankan People’s Party, the Janatha Vimukthi Peramuna, but many civil organizations such as the March 12 Movement and lawyers for the struggle who took steps to issue announcements and statements against it.

Hapuhinna the central topic

At the same time, it was seen that this political fire that Hapuhinna had started was spreading throughout the political field as well. Accordingly, many of the state ministers started talking to their favorite cabinet ministers and asking about the truth and falsity of this article. To all those who spoke like that, several cabinet ministers had mentioned that they had not seen such a cabinet paper, and at least such a discussion did not take place in the cabinet. Therefore, it was seen how the cabinet ministers gave answers to all those who spoke to them that they do not know anything about this. They also mentioned that they did not know that the Cabinet Secretary had sent such a letter to Hapuhinna.

In addition, during a party leader’s meeting held in Parliament last Friday, JVP leader Anura Kumara Dissanayake took steps to inquire about this from Minister Susil Premajayant. Susil also told Anura that no such paper was presented to the cabinet; at least there was no discussion about it.

Who presented the cabinet paper?

With the answers given by the ministers, many more questions were raised. The first question was whether a cabinet paper was actually presented to the cabinet not to accept the candidate’s deposit money, if so, who was the minister who presented it, and if not, did the president present such a cabinet paper. The second question is, if a cabinet paper was not submitted, on what basis will the cabinet secretary inform the secretary of the public administration ministry that such a paper has been passed? The next question is whether the Cabinet Secretary actually did so, or whether anyone instructed the Cabinet Secretary to do so.

Letter boomerang back to Hapuhinna

However, it was soon learned that the letter he had sent had become a firestorm and the country was on fire. At the same time, Hapuhinna made a special statement to the media and said that he had taken steps to recall the relevant letter. But the issue is not recalling or rescinding that illegal letter. How could such an illegal activity happen at the hands of someone like Hapuhinna who has a good practice and wealth of experience in constitutional law, administrative law, and the code of institutions?

Hapuhinna told many of the friends who inquired about it that he acted according to a letter sent to him by the Cabinet Secretary. But whether the Cabinet Secretary sent such a letter is currently uncertain. Also, many people are of the opinion that one should have the ability to understand what is right and wrong and act accordingly. But here significantly it is noted none of that had happened.

EC Generals response

However, within an hour of Hapuhinna’s letter coming to the fore, a reply letter was issued by the Election Commission. That letter from  Mr. Saman Sri Ratnayake, Commissioner General of the Commission. Through that letter, Mr. Ratnayake had informed all election officials that they should take steps to collect the money from the political parties who come to deposit the election pledge. Accordingly, it was noted Hapuhinna’s letter became worthless. The letter sent by Mr. Ratnayake is as follows.

To all Electoral Officers

Provincial council elections 2023

Obtaining election pledge cash

Pledge money related to election

In accordance with the powers assigned to the Election Commission by Section 4(1) of the Local Government Elections Ordinance, you have been appointed as the Election Officer of each district in the Extraordinary Gazette Notification No. 2311/26 dated 2022-12-26. I hereby emphasize that if political parties or independent groups deposit pledges for local government bodies in the district in relation to the polls, it is your responsibility to take the necessary steps to receive those pledges.

(02) Also as informed in the letter no. /2023/02 issued to you and dated 2023-01-02, the notice in terms of Section 26 of the Local Government Elections Ordinance (262 Authority) has been issued on 01-04-2023. As per Section 05 of the Act, it is your responsibility to accept nominations between 18-01-2023 and 12 noon on 21-01-2023.

Saman Sri Ratnayake

Commissioner General Elections

Next drama of postponement

When Hapuhinna’s game to postpone the election was backfired, another beautiful drama was being performed by the government to postpone the election. Its script was completely prepared on the topic of ‘Government has no money to hold votes’. Accordingly, in the first round the government’s plan was to get the ministers of the government to declare that there is no money for the election. It started last Tuesday morning at the press conference announcing the cabinet decisions.

There, the Cabinet Media Spokesman Mr. Bandula Gunawardena publicly said that the government does not have money to hold elections, and if money is allocated for it, it will not be possible to pay Samurdhi, pensions and even civil servant salaries. Bandula Gunawardena also said that the people will have to stand in fuel and gas queues again without being able to bring fuel and gas ships. After Bandula, Minister Manusha Nanayakkara and State Minister Anupa Pascual were seen issuing media statements saying that the government does not have money to hold elections.

Pensioner’s fury at the Government

When Bandula made this statement on Tuesday, it was the pension payment date for the pensioners. Accordingly, pensioners were seen in the banks to collect their pensions, but they were told that the relevant money had not been sent from the treasury and the banks turned them back. There, these pensioners were so helpless that they could be seen criticizing the government as well as cursing the government.

Ministers contradict each other

In a way, it was an incident that expressed great anger towards the government. When those statements were shown to the country that evening through the media, the government also felt that the news was not good. Accordingly, the State Minister of Finance, Mr. Shehan Semasinghe, rejected Bandula’s speech on Tuesday night and said that there should be no fear regarding Samurdhi, pensions and public servant salaries, and that the government is taking steps to pay the money on time. Not stopping there, Minister Ranjith Siambalapitiya also made a special statement to the media on Wednesday morning and said that the government is working to pay samurdhi allowances, public servant salaries and pensions as scheduled.

SJB counter attack

About a month ago, we reported on this column that the government is going to postpone the elections by saying that there is no money. As we said, when the government took out this trump card, it was seen how the opposition also prepared a counterattack. That is, last Wednesday (11) Mr. S.M. Marikkar in a press conference, who was also the deputy national organizer and media spokesperson said directly .

Government officials who are working according to the agenda of the government will be dealt severely in the next government; therefore, according to the agenda of the government, the officials who act unconstitutionally and illegally will have to wear jumpers in the next government. Marikkar also pointed out that the government is trying to create a false fear of holding elections among the people by saying that oil and gas ships will be delayed.

Government’s next operation

In this way, the government was launching another operation behind the scenes while the trump card of the lack of money was failing. That is by using some media friendly to them and publishing news almost daily that there is a serious division in the Election Commission regarding the conduct of the election. When the government launched this operation last week, the Chairman of the Election Commission, Mr. Nimal Punchihewa, who gave a special statement to the ‘Mawrata’ newspaper, emphasized that there is no division in the commission regarding the conduct of the election. Pointing out that this kind of fake news is released to the media from one place; Mr. Punchiheva said that the election will be held as planned.

President’s false claim

However, when Mr. Punchiheva said this, it was seen that the president and the ministers of the government continued to accuse that there is a division in the commission. It was also possible to see how they were propagated by media friendly to the government. But the commission gave a strong answer to this last Wednesday. That is through all the other four members representing the commission attended a press conference led by the chairman Mr. Nimal Punchihewa and showed the country that there is no division in the commission. Accordingly, the government’s plan to postpone the vote by stating that there was a division in the commission had also failed completely. Also, the Commission took another special step forward and informed the Supreme Court on Friday that the Commission will conduct the election as planned.

Former MACO’s view

Meanwhile, some mention should be made about the former Election Commissioner, Mr. Mahinda Deshapriya. In the past, Mahinda Deshapriya knowingly or unknowingly represented one chapter of the government’s election postponement project. He accepted a position given by the government as the head of the delimitation committee. We said at that time that the government had planned to postpone the election through this delimitation committee, and Mahinda Deshapriya was also involved in it. After our disclosure, Mahinda Deshapriya made a public statement to the media and said that it is not possible to postpone the elections through the Delimitation Commission, and that the Commission has the right to hold the election.

Having said that, Mahinda Deshapriya had taken steps to make two more special statements last week. One of them was Mr. Hapuhinna’s declaration that the letter sent to the district secretaries was useless and just a piece of crap. The second statement was that if there is no money to hold the elections, the people of the country should eat salt and rice to provide money to hold the elections. Accordingly, it was seen that Mahinda Deshapriya is now appearing for an election.

Pohottuwa is in a hurry

In addition to this, a matter that many people try to figure out now is the reason why the election pledge money was deposited in a hurry in district level as soon as the election was announced. Although many people thought that this was done as a propaganda ploy, there is a secret behind the immediate depositing of election money deposits at the district level that no one knows about. That’s because Basil had previously tried depositing bail as a trick.

After Gotabhaya Rajapaksa won the 2019 presidential election, several parties, including Wimal, who were in alliance under Pohottuwa, had put forward a condition that the 2019 general election should be contested in a new alliance.

Wimal presented it to Gota and arranged to get Gota’s approval for it. Accordingly, knowing that Wimal’s idea was to materialise through Gota, Basil immediately called the election and deposited the pledges in all the districts under Pohottuwa. According to that, the game that Wimal tried to play in 2019 not happened. Everyone had to compete under the spell of Basil.

Basil’s Ploy

But even though there was a great demand for pohottuwa from the people then, it is not seen that there is such a great demand for pohottuwa today. Pohottuwa is preparing to contest this time with the aim of somehow saving his party’s name. On the other hand, it has been seen that many candidates are not willing to contest under the bud. While preparing the list of candidates, the heads of Pohottuwa had clearly seen this. Basil went immediately and made pledge deposits this time as a way to get rid of the problem.

Also, although Pohottutuwa has been working to show the country that they are keenly interested in the local government elections by depositing election deposits almost every day, in reality, it is none other than Pohottutuwa who had a strong interest in postponing the election. Therefore, Pohottuwa was also launching a big operation behind the scenes to somehow postpone the election.

In the future, through this column we are ready to reveal detailed information about the operations that Pohottuwa launched to postpone the election, the people behind the moves and  who led them through this . Moreover, we have also received information about the discussions held by certain leaders of Pohottu directly to people in the legal departments to seek legal advice on postponing the elections. We are ready to reveal all of them in the future through this channel.

Elephant – Bud alliance

Meanwhile, another important happening took place last week was the decision of the United National Party and Pohottua to come together politically and contest this year’s LG election. A week ago, the President said that he will not participate in any political activities in this election and will remain independent, but the provision of the Presidential Secretariat to conduct related discussions was a matter that raised a question for many

Vajira Abeywardena, Range Bandara, Akila and Sagala participated in the discussion that was held last Tuesday, from UNP while Mahindananda, Rohitha and Sanjeeva Edirimanna participated representing Pohottuwa.

Accordingly, in these discussions, the two sides agreed to join with three main points. The first proposal was that both parties would compete under the UNP symbol for the local government bodies favorable to the UNP. The second proposal was that both parties would compete under Pohottuwa for the local government bodies favorable to Pohottuwa. The third proposal was that the two parties should compete separately for other local government bodies and work together in establishing the council.

After reaching these three resolutions, Range Bandara came out of the Presidential Secretariat office on Tuesday morning and  announced this to the media, but within a few hours, it was seen that a crisis situation had emerged through the release of a completely different press release from Sirikoth, the UNP party headquarters.

Contradiction from Sirikotha

The announcement issued from Sirikoth said that the negotiations between the UNP and Pohottuwa will continue and that a final decision has not yet been taken in this regard. Apart from this, Ruwan Wijewardena, who was an adviser to the President, had announced through his family’s media that no final decision has been taken so far regarding the merger of UNP and Pohottuwa. Accordingly, it was seen that there are still two opinions within the UNP regarding the alliance with Pohottuwa

However, the crisis erupted shortly after the announcement that the UNP and Pohottuwa would merge, many UNP local government representatives took steps to join the United People’s Force. Many UNP members who represented Kaduwela, Maharagama and Attanagalla local government bodies had taken steps to join the SJB. The most special event witnessed there was that 36 councillors representing the Colombo Municipal Council, which was the UNP stronghold, came together with Sajith.

By Special Correspondent

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