Will UNP – Pohottuwa alienage together
Latest game plan of the government
Will Ranil give up on LG Elections
“Voting for the government is like giving a mad dog a bath…”
This is a story told recently at a public press conference about the government’s plan to postpone the elections by an opposition member. This opposition member stated this because the current president, led by Pohottuwa, has used a variety of strategies, tricks, and subterfuges to postpone local government elections from the start. One of them was to declare that the number of councillors in local government bodies should be reduced from over 8,000 to 4,000.
The second was the declaration that power should be decentralised to a group of local government heads. The third step was the formation of a new delimitation committee led by former Election Commissioner Mahinda Deshapriya. The fourth goal was to reintroduce the village council system, as proposed by former Speaker Karu Jayasuriya. In this regard, Karu and a civil activist, Victor Ivan, visited the cabinet and informed the cabinet ministers. However, with the opposition taking steps to keep the public informed on a regular basis, the government realised that postponing the vote would be a difficult task.
As a result, the government began implementing several new plans a few weeks ago. One of them was to present a proposal to the cabinet for 25% youth representation in local government bodies, as well as to regulate expenses and take steps to pass it without much fuss. The second strategy was to quickly appoint representatives to the Constituent Assembly established by the 22nd constitutional amendment, and then appoint representatives favourable to them to other commissions, including the Election Commission, with the intention of postponing the elections.
According to this second plan, at the party leaders’ meeting held in Parliament last week, Minister Susil Premajayantha informed the party leaders that the Constituent Assembly should be formed before December 13th and that the three independent representatives who are currently vacant should be appointed as soon as possible. Due to Susil’s continuous raising of these issues, Sajith, who was suspicious about it, said that applications have already been invited from the civil citizens and that three independent representatives should be appointed through them. Sajith said that it will take some time. But in view of the government’s influence, Sajith had a suspicion that there was some hidden plan here.
Under this situation, Sajith took steps to meet the SJB seniors and discuss the emergency of the government. There, almost everyone pointed out to Sajith that the government is launching an attempt to postpone the local government elections through this, and immediate action should be taken against it. Also SJB MPs Laxman Kiriella, Nalin Bandara, Thushara Indunil, S.M. MPs like Marikkar also took steps to reveal the government’s plan to the country by commenting on it in the Parliament. There, Marikkar said that the opposition leader will not appoint civilians to the Legislative Assembly until the government conducts the local government elections. Under this background, the government’s plan to postpone the elections through the Constituent Assembly was seen to have gone awry.
Punchihewa change stance
Something should also be mentioned regarding the Chairman of the Election Commission. We have mentioned on several occasions before in this column that its chairman Mr. Nimal Punchiheva is very close to Rajapaksa. JVP leader Mr. Anura Kumara Dissanayake had also taken steps to mention this publicly in the Parliament. But when SJB and other political parties of the opposition met representatives of the Election Commission from time to time and discussed this matter, the Commission had indicated that the election would be held on time and that the work would begin as soon as the 2023 voter list was prepared.
But later, when the commission was talking about holding the election suddenly, a group of the opposition including Sajith went and took steps to discuss it with the commission. The commission said that all the activities are at the final stage and that the gazette announcement of holding the election can be issued by December 9-10. Accordingly, Sajith came out and gave a positive response to the commission and took steps to announce that the commission would call the election by December 9 or 10.
However, it was learned last week that the chairman of the commission, Punchiheva, is on the fence regarding the local government elections. It was confirmed by Chairman Punchiheva who informed the representatives of the commission to start the work of the local government election and to stop the work on the same day evening. But we also reported last week that the rest of the officials of the commission who objected to this said that such a thing cannot be done and that the commission is there to hold elections and not to postpone elections. Accordingly, in the end, with the presence of Mr. Punchihewa, Chairman of the Election Commission, it was seen that the announcement of the local government election will be announced by the last week of December.
Under such a background, the last two trump cards planned by the government to somehow postpone the election were to make 25% youth representation in the local government election and to appoint a selection committee to regulate the election expenses. Justice Minister Wijayadasa Rajapaksa also took steps to submit the proposal for the appointment of this selection committee to the Parliament. The other trump card was calling an all-party conference to resolve the North East issue.
The underlying purpose of this was to show that a solution will be provided to the North-East problem before the next Independence Day, thereby somehow getting the necessary time to postpone the local government elections. But the opposition, which has a good understanding of how the government works, decided last week to participate in the party leaders’ meeting called by the president and to jointly take legal action against the government’s attempt to postpone the local government elections.
Accordingly, the opposition political parties jointly held several rounds of discussions regarding the legal measures to be taken against the postponement of the local government elections throughout the last week. The first discussion was held between SJB and Dullas. Laxman Kiriella, Ranjith Maddumabandara representing the SJB party, G.L. and Dallas also joined the discussion representing the other side. Both sides decided that they should resort to court action to thwart the government’s last-ditch effort to postpone the election.
It was also decided that other political forces should be united for that. Accordingly, the leaders of the SJB spoke to Sumanthiran of the Tamil National Alliance, Dayasiri Jayasekara of the Sri Lankan Party, and Anura Yapa representing Anura Yapa and took steps to inform them about this effort. There they also said that there is no problem and that they will also join this fight to defeat the government’s attempt to postpone the elections.
Accordingly, on last Tuesday, SJB, SLFP, Dallas team, Tamil Alliance, Anura Yapa team jointly took steps to submit two election petitions to the court based on the election. The most special event that came to be seen here was that the Janata Vimukthi Peramuna remained silent without interfering in any of these activities. At least the JVP did not work together with the opposition in this matter, but it was a special incident that they even refused to sign the joint letter submitted to the Election Commission requesting that the local government elections be held on time.
Presidential election theory of Wajira
Last week, we mentioned that there was a special discussion between the President and Mr. Basil Rajapaksa on the ‘Rajya Rahas’ column, and Mr. Vajira Abeywardena, Member of Parliament, was also present. We mentioned there that there was a discussion regarding the holding of the local government election and that somehow the local government election should be postponed. However, by now we have uncovered many other details that happened in that discussion. The most special event has been that Vajira Abeywardena presented an opinion regarding an emergency presidential election and presented a very simple theory on how to win it. According to the Constitution, the President has the opportunity to call a presidential election again after the expiry of four years, so Mr. Ranil Wickramasinghe will have the opportunity to call an emergency presidential election by the end of next year if necessary.
Accordingly, Vajira has explained to Basil that a direct presidential election should be held without holding any election until then, and that Mr. Wickramasinghe can easily get Tamil and Muslim votes in the North East and the plantations. Vajira has said that an all-party conference has been called in the next few days to find solutions to the communal problem in the North and East, and through that, Ranil will have the opportunity to win over the Tamil people in the North. Also, Mr. Wickramasinghe has shown to Basil that Mr. Wickramasinghe has the ability to win over the Muslim people in the Eastern District by giving them freedom and political rights. In addition to this, Vajira has pointed out to Basil that the community can be won over by solving the problems of housing and infrastructure for the Tamil people in the plantations, and that the only problem has been getting the Sinhalese votes. Vajira has indicated to Basil that if Ranil can be given Sinhala votes in the presidential election, UNP and Pohottuwa can win without any problem.
Although Vajira told Basil a very simple theory that could win the presidential election in this way, it is a special incident that none of the serious crises that may arise in the next year were discussed here. If the loan from the International Monetary Fund is not received or it is delayed, then the situation that may arise in the country or the protest that may arise from the people due to the increase in the cost of living and the increase in inflation or the increase in unemployment that may arise from the closing of industries or the sale of a large amount of government property. It has been learned that Basil has not made any further statements regarding the crises that may arise due to the need to lay down or the crises that may arise in a situation where the people are unable to find something to eat.
The opinion of the village for bud
However, after presenting Vajirala’s theory of winning votes, Basil also called the heads of local government bodies and organizers at the district level to the Battaramulla party office from last week to discuss the future work. Here again, without mentioning anything about what Basil Wajira said or about the results of the previous elections, the heads of these local government bodies were asked what result would be obtained at the village level if Pohottuwa and the UNP contest together in the next election. Almost 100% of the local government representatives have strongly indicated to Basil that if the UNP joins forces with Pohottuwa, they should only contest under the Pohottuwa symbol in the upcoming elections.
The representatives of the local government, who strongly pointed out to Basil that they should not contest under the elephant symbol or any other common symbol, pointed out to Basil that even though there is no response to Ranil or the UNP at the village level, there are still Pohottuwa party members in the villages. The local government representatives pointed out to Basil that through a high-level campaign, those Pohottu members can be brought back to the party, and informed Basil that if Pohottu joins the UNP, the party will not get the votes of these members in the village.
However, Basil, who listened very carefully to the opinions of these MPs, finally said not to worry about anything, and that Pohottuwa will contest the elections alone in the future. It is also reported that Basil has indicated to the MPs that he will not change the Pohottua sign under any circumstances.
Government’s new game plan
Meanwhile, it appears that the President has not yet given up trying to postpone the vote, as several latest attempts have been made to do so as of last week. Here, the President called the mayors and local council chairpersons who are currently in charge of Pohottuwa’s local government bodies to the Presidential Secretariat and held a special discussion last week. In addition to Pohottu mayors and local council presidents, Prime Minister Dinesh Gunawardena, Pohottu general secretary Sagara Kariyawasam, and state minister Janaka Vakkambura were also present in this discussion, while Moratuwa mayor Saman Lal Fernando led the group. Last season
Saman Lal’s Moratuwa house was among the houses burnt during the recent riots. That is why the first discussion was about the repair and compensation of the houses of the Ministers and regional leaders that were burnt during the days of unrest. The group took steps to request the President to provide the compensation money as soon as possible. Then the President said that he is already working on it. After that, the President proceeded to ask the opinion of the mayors and local council chairmen regarding the holding of local government elections. Many people pointed out that there is a disadvantageous situation in the villages due to the economic crisis, so it would be very good if the local government elections could be postponed further.
The story told by Ranil
However, the President pointed out several other issues including the economic crisis for postponing the local government elections.
We have to hold the vote on time. But there are several practical issues that cannot be voted on before March. One is the advanced level examination. It starts on January 28 and runs until mid-February. It was difficult to vote at that time. On the other hand, it costs about 20 billion to hold a vote. If there is a vote at this moment, government employees will not be able to pay their salaries. The president said that the pension will also have to be stopped for a month…’ and pointed out to the mayors and local council chairmen of Pohottuwa that the United National Party and Pohottuwa will have to work together if there is an election.
In any case, we will have to go to a vote in the future. Therefore, all of you go to the village and get ready to work together…’ the President also requested the heads of local government bodies.
However, in the way the president spoke, his position was to somehow postpone the local elections rather than holding them, the heads of local government bodies in Pohottuwa also understood. Due to the fact that the former President Gotabhaya Rajapaksa postponed the local government election for a year due to the corona virus last January, these mayors and chairpersons have got the opportunity to hold positions for an additional year beyond their 4 years of office. It was also seen that President Ranil Wickramasinghe was preparing to extend the period without holding the election again, so when he came out of the presidential secretariat after the meeting, it was clear that there was great happiness on everyone’s faces.
Thus one is clear through this event. In the failure of all the efforts made to postpone the election, there is an attempt by the President and the government to postpone the election or the economic crisis and the advanced level examination. But there is a serious problem as to whether it will be successful. The reason for this is that the funds required for holding the election have already been allocated through last year’s budget document. Therefore, many people are of the opinion that no one can argue that there is no money. On the other hand, holding elections
Since it is a basic feature of democracy in any country, there are many other organizations around the world including the United Nations to provide financial support for it. Former Election Commissioner Mahinda Deshapriya also mentioned this recently. Therefore, it is the position of many that saying that there is no money is not a reasonable reason. On the other hand, we should not forget that we have a history of holding several major elections during the periods when the A-level and ordinary levels are held.
Accordingly, many people in the political field have pointed out that the government has no chance of postponing the election for any reason. If the local government elections are held, according to the current situation, how will the political parties present themselves in the elections?
New emerging alliances
In the 2019 general election, Pohottuwa formed the government with a two-thirds majority, but now Pohottuwa is split between three to four fractions. The group of 10 parties including Wimal Weerawansa and Udaya Gammanpila were the first to break. They are now sitting independently in the opposition. The Sri Lanka Freedom Party, which contested together with Pohottuwa, is currently sitting in the opposition. Anura Yapa and Chandima Veerakkodi, who were with Pohottuwa, are now sitting independently in the opposition.
Accordingly, Pohottuwa, who contested alone in the last 2018 local government election and won the power of about 190 local government bodies, has to compete alone this time without almost all the major parties that were in alliance with them. And this time, only the United National Party, which could not win any parliamentary seat in the last general election, is alone in Pohottuwa. Accordingly, it is said that Pohottuwa and the United National Party are going to contest the election in alliance in the local government election.
However, it has been seen that Samagi Jana Balawegaya, the main opposition party, is ready to contest this year’s local government election on its own without any alliance with any party. According to the results of an extremely secret opinion poll already conducted by Mr. Basil Rajapaksa, it has been shown that Samagi Jana Balawegaya will win 51% of the votes in this election. Two weeks ago, we took steps to reveal the results of this secret opinion poll to the country through the ‘State Secrets’ channel.
However, it has been seen that the Sri Lanka Freedom Party has been holding many rounds of negotiations with various parties in order to come forward as an alliance for this year’s local government elections. Accordingly, a special discussion was held between the SLFP and the Dallas team last week. The ‘State Secrets’ belt has learned that both the parties have expressed their willingness to compete in the local government elections with one common alliance.
What will happen to Wimal
It has been learned that apart from the Dallas party, the Communist Party, the Samasamaja Party and the People’s Party, the left-wing political parties that have been with Wimal Weerawansa, have also started negotiations for an alliance with the SLFP in this year’s local government elections. The position of those parties is that Wimal Weerawansa’s party is currently overvalued, so joining forces with them and contesting the election will lead to political failure. Accordingly, in this year’s local government elections, they will leave Wimal’s party and form an alliance with SLFP. Many people are of the opinion that then the situation of Wimal team will become more serious.
Also, the rajya rahas column has also heard that a group that is close to the President has also started talks to ally with the SLFP in the upcoming local government elections. It is a team including Nimal Lanza, Nalin Fernando. Their position is that if the United National Party and Pohottuwa compete together in the upcoming elections, they cannot compete under such an alliance. Accordingly, a group of anti-Rajapaksa ministers in Pohottuwa, including Lanza and Nalin Fernando, have also expressed their willingness to contest in an alliance with the SLFP again. Recently, the leader of the Sri Lankan National Party, Mr. Maithripala Sirisena, made a public statement that a new alliance will be launched under the leadership of the Sri Lankan National Party in January based on all these issues.
In addition to this, there are many other new parties and alliances ready to compete in the upcoming elections. One such alliance is the Anura Yapa-led group. It has been learned that the group is preparing to contest the election in a separate alliance under the leadership of former President Chandrika Bandaranaike Kumaratunga.
Also, the Frontline Socialist Party has started discussions to build a broad alliance targeting the elections. The news is that they have not yet made a decision regarding their candidacy for the local government elections this year, but they have definitely prepared to form this alliance based on their candidacy for the general elections.
By Special Corrospondent