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Sunday, 16 August 2009

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President, Govt ride high

The United People's Freedom Alliances' (UPFA)'s landslide victory in the Uva Provincial Council and at the Jaffna Municipal Council elections gave a clear and firm indication of the popularity of President Mahinda Rajapaksa and his Government.

Last week's election results clearly showed that President Rajapaksa's leadership is equally popular in the South as well as in the North. His dynamic leadership - to liberate over half a million innocent civilians from the clutches of the LTTE, eradication of terrorism and plans to strengthen the economy, has won hearts of the masses.

The UPFA's latest election victory in a convincing fashion, amply demonstrates the amount of faith of different communities in the President and his Government. Undoubtedly, the mandate given by the people in the Uva and Jaffna is an endorsement of the Government's policies.

The Government has not only rescued civilians from the LTTE's merciless rule but also restored their democratic rights by holding the Local Government elections in Jaffna and Vavuniya. People in the two Northern cities got an opportunity to exercise their democratic rights. That enabled the people to elect their own representatives to run their local government administrations.

No sooner the resettlement process is completed, the Provincial Council elections will be held in the North to run its own regional administration.

Ever since President Rajapaksa assumed office in November, 2005, many far-reaching and nation-friendly decisions have been taken. No other previous leader had taken such fearless and courageous decisions to serve the best interests of the country and its people.

There had been immense pressure from several quarters, which was too much to bear at times, during Sri Lanka's relentless battle against terrorism. But the President's healthy international relations enabled us to stand strong. Many friendly countries gave Sri Lanka their wholehearted support.

We could never forget the manner in which China and Russia backed Sri Lanka's battle against terrorism at home and at the UN Security Council.

This was contrary to what the United National Party (UNP) was trying to project during Ranil Wickremesinghe's 2005 Presidential Election campaign.

While Wickremesinghe learnt an unforgettable lesson with his back to back Presidential defeats, President Rajapaksa also proved how strong he is in his international relations.

Shasheendra Rajapaksa rewrote election history in Uva Province. He not only polled a record 136,697 votes but also became the architect of inflicting the UNP its worst ever defeat. Young Rajapaksa has erased former President Chandrika Bandaranaike Kumaratunga's all-time record for the highest percentage of preferential votes by securing 84.4% of the votes cast at the 1993 Western Provincial Council elections in the Gampaha District. But the UPFA Chief Ministerial candidate had accounted for 85.6% to erase Kumaratunga's record.

Since the UNP's formation way back in 1946, the party has suffered its heaviest ever defeat in the Monaragala District, be it on the old electorate wise or on the current district basis. Besides this, the UPFA has secured over 80% of the votes from all three electorates in the Monaragala District under the inspiring leadership of Shasheendra Rajapaksa. It was a one horse race for the UPFA in the electorates of Bibile, Moneragala and Wellawaya, securing 81%, 82% and 80% of the votes respectively.

Even the die-hard UNPers couldn't believe their eyes to see how badly the UNP vote base has eroded. Nine years after the 2000 General Elections, the UNP has polled only 15% of the votes in the Monaragala District.

After the bitter truth and the actual strength of its vote base were exposed, the UNP is now coming out with a plethora of excuses to cover their inability. The UNP has been rejected wholesale not only by the people in Uva but also by the voters in the North too.

It was another first under Wickremesinghe's shaky leadership as the UNP suffered its worst ever defeat in Moneragala District in its 62-year-old history. Moreover, Wickremesinghe has now proved beyond reasonable doubt that he is the worst ever UNP leader with his party's 21st successive election defeat.

It is unfortunate that Wickremesinghe could still not feel the pulse of the people. His impracticable theories and unpatriotic policies have been flatly rejected by the masses. It is a pity that Wickremesinghe is still holding onto the leadership though there are a few dynamic characters amongst the party seniors.As a responsible opposition, the UNP should, at least at this very late juncture, realise the aspirations of the people and respect the verdict given by the people in the last few elections. All what the UNP should do now is to support the good work of President Rajapaksa and extend unconditional support to the Government to meet future challenges.

Spending billions of rupees on defence to protect people from LTTE terror and bringing economic prosperity at the same time are not easy tasks by any means. Amidst the global recession and adverse economic trends in Asia, Sri Lanka has beaten all overwhelming odds to face challenges successfully. The Government will soon usher in economic prosperity with the contribution of the people in the North and East.

The masses have confidence in President Rajapaksa and his Government. They strongly believe that the President could take Sri Lanka to greater heights both socially and economically.

That is precisely why the UPFA is going great guns, emerging victorious at every election. Soon, the elections to the Southern Provincial Council too would be held. Needless to say a that the UPFA is set to secure the South with a thumping majority. There was a time the UNP folded the electoral map under the J.R. Jayewardene regime and the then Opposition was starved of opportunities to elect their members democratically.

But now that President Rajapaksa has given enough and more opportunities for the UNP to show their strength, the party has failed at every given opportunity. Having lost 21 elections in a row and being unable to face the masses, the UNP has now developed an election phobia to get rid of the situation.

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