The common candidate
Speculation was rife about a
common candidate even before the Presidential elections were announced.
President Mahinda Rajapaksa has decided to hold a Presidential Election
two years ahead of the end of his official term. The focus on a common
candidate has now taken centre stage.
Who is the common candidate? When nominations for the forthcoming
Presidential elections close, perhaps, there would be several who would
call themselves the common candidate. But eventually, the genuine common
candidate would emerge victorious.
The common candidate is none other than President Rajapaksa who gave
inspirational leadership to the country's unrelenting battle against
terrorism. He alone could be rightly called the saviour of the nation.
If not for his courage, inspiration and motivation, the Security Forces
would never have liberated the country from the clutches of LTTE terror.
The United National Party (UNP), in a desperate bid, decided not to
field its party leader, the Leader of the Opposition Ranil
Notwithstanding the strong opposition from some of the senior members
of the Working Committee, they have decided to support Retired General
Sarath Fonseka at the 2010 Presidential Elections.
Wickremesinghe must have breathed a sigh of relief that he could get
away with the task of leading the UNP at the Presidential polls. That
too is understandable as he has been a dismal failure at successive
Presidential elections against UPFA candidates. He first 'tasted'
defeat, when he took on Chandrika Bandaranaike Kumaratunga in 1999 and
President Rajapaksa in 2005.
Apart from the two humiliating Presidential election defeats, the UNP
has lost two General Elections and 18 other Provincial Council and Local
Government elections under the tottering leadership of Wickremesinghe.
The UNP, never in its history, had such a weak leader who is now obliged
to evade elections.
Wickremesinghe has achieved another 'first' in Sri Lanka's election
history as this will be the first time that a UNP leader would not
contest a major election. As UNP National Organiser S.B. Dissanayake has
pointed out, this will be the first time in 62 years that an election
will be held without the Elephant symbol. Though the UNP has been making
a big hue and cry about democracy, demanding early elections, its leader
is running away, fearing to face elections as a true leader.
On the other hand, the action taken by President Rajapaksa is
He could have continued until November 2011 as the Executive
Nevertheless, he sought to get a fresh mandate from the people, even
sacrificing one-third of his six-year term. No other leader in this
country has gone for such early elections, foregoing two years in
office. President Rajapaksa is a firm believer of democracy and the
power of the people. He strongly believes and respects the wishes and
aspirations of the common people. Having given dynamic leadership to the
world's largest human rescue operation to liberate Mother Lanka, the
President has decided to seek a fresh mandate from the people.
One of the main reasons which had prompted President Rajapaksa to
call an early Presidential Election is to fulfil the aspirations of the
Tamil community living in the North and the East. The LTTE terrorists
denied people in uncleared areas the opportunity to exercise their
democratic rights at the 2005 Presidential Elections. As a result,
President Rajapaksa could not secure the Tamil vote he anticipated from
the North and the East.
Now that people in the North and the East have been rescued from LTTE
terror and are being resettled, the President has decided to get their
consent as well for his next effort to win the 'economic war' as well.
Many people, including some opportunist Opposition politicians and
'peace merchants' are not acknowledging Sri Lanka's success in the
battle against terrorism. Opposition politicians worked overtime to
support the LTTE terror outfit from the time of the Mavil Aru operation
in mid 2006 to the last few decisive hours at Nandikadal Lagoon.
These opportunist politicians have now taken a 'U' turn in embracing
war heroes. People still remember how Parliamentarian Mangala
Samaraweera tore the then Army Commander Lt. Gen Sarath Fonseka to
shreds, saying that the latter was not good enough even to lead the
Salvation Army. But today, Samaraweera is singing hosannas for Fonseka.
The UNP-led Opposition issued a plethora of statements to oppose the
Government's move to liberate innocent civilians trapped in the North
and the East. They displayed incredible sympathy towards the civilians
with a hidden agenda.
The Opposition even attempted to give the last drop of oxygen to
revive the LTTE.
President Rajapaksa supported the Security Forces to the hilt,
providing them the morale and logistical support at all times. Weren't
there heroes in the battlefront such as General Denzil Kobbekaduwa,
former Defence and National Security Ministers Lalith Athulathmudali,
Ranjan Wijeratne and Anuruddha Ratwatte who attempted to militarily wipe
out the LTTE? But undue foreign pressure and lack of a proper political
vision 'killed' all such previous operations.
However, the political maturity, leadership qualities and strong
international relations of President Rajapaksa helped rewrite Sri
Lanka's modern history. Had it not been for the unflinching support from
friendly countries during the crucial stages of the battle against
terror, the Security Forces would never have achieved this success.
The irresponsible utterances of power-hungry Opposition politicians
could enable local and foreign elements to interfere with Sri Lanka's
sovereignty and territorial integrity. All loyal and patriotic citizens
would undoubtedly rally round the President to defeat such sinister