Former Sri Lankan President Mahinda Rajapaksa’s Sri Lanka Podujana Peramuna (SLPP) said after sweeping the local bodies elections on Sunday, that its victory should be used to propel economic developmental work in Sri Lanka, which the incumbent government had allowed to languish since it came to power in January 2015.
A statement issued by the SLPP on Sunday that the people had realized that they had been misled by the parties in the power and had, through the ballot box, conveyed their displeasure with them.
A section of the media quoted unnamed sources in the SLPP to say that the party will demand snap polls to the parliament. The present parliament was elected in August 2015 for a five year term.
Meanwhile President Maithripala Sirisena, whose Sri Lanka Freedom Party (SLFP) and United Peoples’ Freedom Alliance (UPFA),had bitten the dust in the polls coming third in terms of the number of councils and seats won, told his party and ministerial colleagues that he would bring about “significant changes in the government in the next couple of days”.
At the moment, there is only speculation as to what kind of changes that the President is thinking of.
According to some sources close to Sirisena, he could reshuffle the cabinet to bring in ministers who would do his bidding to give the government a populist orientation.
He might also make changes in the administrative structure so that his pro-people agenda is implemented and the corruption cases against former President Mahinda Rajapaksa are pursued with vigor and single minding devotion.
In other words, the speculation is that Sirisena might try to bring the government under his control but not break with the coalition partner, United National Party (UNP), which currently holds most of the key posts, including that of Prime Minister in the cabinet.
Most observers say that breaking with the UNP and relieving Ranil Wickremesinghe from the post of Prime Minister are unlikely to be on the cards.
If he is to break with the UNP or relieve Wickremesinghe from the post of Prime Minister, he would have to make a deal with the victorious opposition stalwart Mahinda Rajapaksa.
But this is ruled out on the grounds that the rift between the two is unbridgeable, although it is acknowledged that there are no permanent enemies or friends in politics.
According to Daily Mirror, the results released till 6 pm on Sunday are as follows: the Sri Lanka Podujana Peramuna (SLPP) was heading towards a victory at the Local Government election garnering 45 per cent of the majority votes.
The SLPP had garnered 1,917,112 votes along with 1,391 seats whereas the United National Party (UNP) had secured 1,384,103 votes with 989 seats.
The United People’s Freedom Alliance (UPFA) had obtained 415,975 votes and 291 seats. The Janatha Vimukthi Peramuna (JVP) secured 270,548 votes and 190 seats.
Meanwhile, the Ilankai Thamil Arasu Katchi (ITAK) had collected 172,115 votes and 196 seats. The Sri Lanka Freedom Party (SLFP) had secured 202,672 votes along with 164 seats.
There were 341 councils and 8356 seats up for grabs in the February 10 all-island local body elections.
Meanwhile Asian Mirror reported that Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe held a special meeting with a group of party seniors in which he informed the group that he would work with President Maithripala Sirisena until 2020.
He had also told his party group that the Unity Government would continue its full term, despite the result of the Local Government elections.
The decision was to be communicated to President Maithripala Sirisena at a one on one meeting between the two at the President’s residence.
However, the Prime Minister had informed that the election result was a wake-up call for the UNP and he intends to take some drastic decisions to put the government back on the right track.
He emphasized the need for expediting action on corruption investigations, economic development and bringing down the cost of living.
The party seniors had also expressed the view that the Treasury Bond issue was a major reason for the party’s defeat at the Local Government elections.