By Umesh Moramudali and Ruwan Laknath Jayakody
Reeling from the recent United Nations Human Rights Council defeat, the United People’s Freedom Alliance achieved a lackluster victory in the Western and Southern Provincial Council elections, and while the United National Party managed to stick with its usual voter base, the leftist Janatha Vimukthi Peramuna under the new leadership, forged ahead.
The main opposition, United National Party (UNP) yesterday said that the Western and Southern Provincial Council election results had indicated that the public are ready to make a regime change.
Addressing the media, UNP Parliamentarian, Kabir Hashim said, the United People’s Freedom Alliance (UPFA) had got 250,000 votes less than in the previous PC election in 2009 which is an indication to imply that people want change.
He noted, the vote base of the opposition had increased while the government is losing its vote base. He further added, according to the theory of the Prof.G.L. Peiris the government had lost the PC election as 40% people casted votes against the government while 35% abstained from voting.
“When the Sri Lankan Government lost the resolution in United Nations Human Rights Council (UNHRC), External Affairs Minister G.L. Peiris said, Sri Lanka actually won it as more countries did not vote for the resolution. According to that most people had refused to vote for the government. Which means at around 75% in the country are against the government,” he added.
Hashim said, with this drop down of vote base the confidence level of the government had gone down.
He stressed that if the opposition stands together the task of toppling the government will not be difficult. When asked whether any official discussion is held with the opposition parties he said, no official discussion was held as yet.
Hashim further added, UNP is not agreeing with government’s act of holding elections on a frequent basis without waiting for the due dates. He also added that the Leadership Council (LC) of the party should take the responsibility for victories or losses of the party at the PC elections.
“It’s only two months after the LC was formed. We could not do the organizing work of the grass roots level well enough. We did not have sufficient time to organize and to take our mandates to the public,” he added.
Speaking about the increased vote base of the Democratic Party (DP) and the Janatha Vimukthi Peramuna (JVP) he said, UNP is happy about opposition parties getting more votes, but small parties will not be a challenge for UNP as it is the strongest singular party in the country.
“UNP took these votes as a single party. In contrast to that the government got votes by aligning with a number of parties,” he noted.
He also admitted that UNP requires party reforms to get more votes in the upcoming elections. He stressed, UNP is the party which has the ability to topple the government and hope to face the next election as a stronger party.
Meanwhile, Sri Lanka Freedom Party (SLFP), Assistant Secretary and Minister of Power and Energy, Pavithra Wanniarachchi, said that the victory at the Western and Southern Provincial Council elections proves that the government is the only party that can protect the human rights of the people and develop the nation.
“This is a slap in the face of all parties including those who voted for the resolution against Sri Lanka at the recently concluded UNHRC in Geneva and those believed that we are a puppet on a string that will dance to their tune. In the majority of the electorates we have managed to secure more than 15,000 votes ahead of the UNP which is the main Opposition,” she added.
She also said, the UPFA had managed to secure more seats than the entire Opposition combined and this is a heavy defeat for them.
“Not even the UNHRC can break the most powerful bond which is the people’s mandate and trust,” She said.
Meanwhile, Janatha Vimukthi Peramuna, Leader, Anura Kumara Dissanayake, said that the people have voted for us to make a powerful and strong Opposition and perform the duties of the Opposition against the wrongs committed on the people by the present government.
“This is a spectacular victory for us. We may have been backward in the past but this result has completely overturned it. In the Southern Province election in 2009 we got only 72,379 votes but this time we received 109,032 votes which is as a percentage of nine percent and now we have a total of five seats, especially in Hambantota where we now have one seat and we have achieved 13% in vote percentage. In the Western Province in 2009 we had 56,384 votes whereas this time we have 156,208 votes and now have three more seats with the total being six,” Dissanayake said.
He further stated that these elections weren’t natural as they were held to further the government’s agenda by dissolving the Provincial Councils (PC) early to get for the President six more years of political power. He noted, the Southern Provincial Council (SPC) election should have been in September while three more months need to pass for the Western Provincial Council (WPC) election. He added, the government has failed in the election noting that they have lost over 142,000 votes and 12 seats in the Western Province.
“They have suffered a defeat. In the Colombo District they have only a 45% vote percentage. The majority is not with them. The Colombo District has completely rejected the government. The UPFA loss in Hambantota is a direct attack on the President himself,” he said.
He added, State properties including the media were misused, personnel used, institutions utilized and promotions given for the sake of obtaining votes and campaigns conducted by the President and ministers under the guise of development programmes. He noted, Minister of Agriculture, Mahinda Yapa Abeywardene, Minister of Transport, Kumara Welgama, Minister of Investment Promotion, Lakshman Yapa Abeywardene, MP Namal Rajapaksa, Deputy Minister of Petroleum and Petroleum Resources, Sarana Gunawardene are all at fault.
“We are not going to form an alliance. The present government is following United National Party (UNP) policies so the people have no need for the UNP. Casinos, privatization of education, espousing capitalism and making tourism the foundation of the country’s economy are all UNP policies. The UNP has an unresolved internal personalized power struggle which has nothing to do with the country or the people. What is their premise and stance? Members of the UNP should join with other social forces. We invite all former JVP members to join hands with us,” Dissanayake said.
Despite several attempts by Ceylon Today, United People’s Freedom Alliance General Secretary and Minister of Environment and Renewable Energy, Susil Premajayantha, United People’s Freedom Alliance Treasurer and Minister of Youth Affairs and Skills Development, Dullas Alahapperuma and National Freedom Front (NFF) media spokesman Mohamed Muzammil were not available for a comment.