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Elections for Western and Southern PCs on March 29:

Political parties bracing for election campaigns


Elections Commissioner Mahinda Deshapriya

Political parties had a difficult time selecting candidates as they had to decide whether they were to select people considering popularity or political maturity. However, in many instances political maturity came to the fore as against popularity. Actress Gayesha Perera and vocalist Judith White (Ginger) who were waiting with bated breath to contest elections under the UPFA banner from the Colombo district were disappointed as the Sri Lanka Freedom Party(SLFP) decided not to give nominations to them.

The SLFP gave priority to youth and professionals when finalising nominations. According to the treasurer, Minister Dallas Alahapperuma 18 lawyers, four engineers, two doctors, seven artistes and nine from the teaching profession including Principals and Educational Directors , a single journalist and several youth were included the in their nomination lists.

Minister Dallas Alahapperuma
Prasanna Ranathunga
Shan Wijelal De Silva
Roger Seneviratne
Tissa Attanayake

The countdown to the crucial elections for the Western and Southern Provincial Councils commenced on Thursday as Elections Commissioner Mahinda Deshapriya fixed the elections date for March 29, after nominations were closed at 12 noon on February 6, according to the regulations stipulated in the Provincial Councils Act no 42, of 1987.

Geetha Kumarasinghe
Hirunika Premachandra
Malsha Kumaranatunga
Anarkalli Akarsha

At the end of filing nominations, a total number of 3794 candidates representing 23 recognised political parties and 42 Independents groups were in the fray for the Southern and Western Provincial Council Elections. The highest number of candidates (1247) are reported from the Colombo district as 774 candidates from 18 political parties and 11 Independent Groups filed nominations. Four Independent Group nomination lists were rejected from the Colombo district.

The second highest number of candidates were reported from the Gampaha district with 13 political parties and nine Independent Groups filed their nominations. A total of 550 candidates from 14 recognised political parties and nine Independent Groups filed their nominations. Accordingly 2743 candidates are contesting for the 102 seats in the Western Provincial Council. Forty Members each from the Colombo and Gampaha district and 20 members from the Kalutara district will be elected to the Western Provincial Council from 4, 024, 623 registered voters in the province.

A total of 450 candidates, representing 14 political parties and four Independent Groups filed their nominations to contest from the Galle district. There will be 380 candidates representing 14 political parties and five Independent Groups to contest the election from the Matara district. Two hundred and twenty one candidates from nine political parties and four Independent Groups are contesting the election from the Hambantota district.

Accordingly 1051 candidates will contest for the 53 seats in the Southern Provincial Council. Out of it 20 Members will be elected from the Galle district while 17 Members and 14 Members will be elected from Matara and Hambantota districts A total of 1,873,804 voters in the Southern Province are eligible to cast their vote at the election. Therefore, the decision to elect 159 Members to the two Provincial Councils now lies with 5,898, 427 registered voters in the two provinces.

The completion of the nomination process put an end to many rumours and speculations about the the entry of popular figures to the politics and leaving some of the popular figures who launched their election campaigns much ahead of finalising the nominations with shattered hopes.

Actresses Geetha Kumarasinghe from Galle district and former Provincial Councillor Anarkalee Akarsha from the Matara district will contest the Southern Provincial Council elections under UPFA banner. Apart from that actor Roger Seneviratne will also contest from the Colombo district under UPFA banner.

Apart from them, actress Nadeesha Hemamali will contest the Southern Provincial Council election from the Matara district from the United National Party while actors Nalin Pradeep Uduwela and Jagath Benaragama and Ravindra Yasas are expected to contest the election from the Democratic Party for the Western Provincial Council from Colombo and Kalutara districts.

Journalists Susara Dinal will contest the elections under the UPFA banner from the Gampaha district while journalist S.M. Marikkar is contesting the election from the UNP for the Colombo district. Journalists Ruwanthi Kariyawasam and Susil Kindelpitiya are also contesting the elections from the Democratic Party for the Colombo District.

Malsha Kumaranatunga, Minister Jeewan Kumaranatunga's daughter and Amitha Senal Welgama, Minister Kumara Welgama's son are also making their entry into politics to contest the Western Provincial Council from the Colombo and Kalutara districts under the UPFA banner.

But it was the entry of Hirunika Premachandra, daughter of the late Bharatha Lakshman Premachandra which attracted media attention in the Western Provincial Council nominations people consider her as being the correct choice from the SLFP as she had a mature political outlook and could represent the voice of the young generation in modern politics.

Deshaimana Nanayakkara, former Minister Hemakumara Nanayakkara's son; former Minister Rupa Karunathilake’s son Sanjeewa Karunathilake; former Deputy Minister Noel Padmasiri Kariyawasam’s brother, ex-UPFA member and now UNP candidate Ananda Padmasiri Kariyawasam are also contesting the election from the UNP for the Southern Provincial Council.

Isuru Dodangoda, son of a former cabinet minister and Southern Province chief Minister Amarasiri Dodangoda; Minister Piyasena Gamage’s son Randima Gamage; the late MP Nanda Gunasinghe’s son Tisara Gunasinghe are contesting the Southern Provincial Council election from the UPFA.

Many candidates kicked off their election campaigns holding pocket meetings. Hirunika Premachandra kicked off her campaign from Summit Flats in Colombo where she resides, with the blessings of religious dignitaries and Ministers and senior politicians while many other candidates also began their campaigns by holding pocket meetings.

According to UPFA General Secretary Minister Susil Premajayantha the UPFA's election campaign will be carried out under the theme ‘Joy and Freedom'.

“We have informed candidates to commence their election campaigns at individual level and to appoint committees for each polling station to carry out election campaigns. They will hold pocket meetings and distribute leaflets among voters“, he said.

“We are conducting the campaign as an Alliance by having a central committee representing all constituent parties and having committees at electorate level to carry out the election campaign at electorate level”, the Minister said.

“The UPFA is expecting to conduct at least three rallies in each electoral district during the latter part of the campaign”, the Minister added.

According to the UPFA nomination list former Chief Minister Prasanna Ranathunga will head the UPFA candidates in the Gampaha district while former Provincial Council Minister Udaya Gammanpila and former Provincial Councillor Jagath Angage will head the UPFA candidates in the Colombo and Kalutara districts respectively.

In the Southern Province the Galle district UPFA leader will be Shan Wijelal De Silva - the former Chief Minister of the Southern Province.

The former Provincial Minister Chandima Rasaputra will be the leader of the Matara district and the former Chairman of the Southern Province Somawansa Kodagoda has been appointed as the UPFA leader for the Hambanthota district.

General Secretary of the United National Party, MP Tissa Attanayake told the Sunday Observer that UNP is giving prominence to house to house campaigns rather than having large scale elections rallies. “The UNP election campaign is being planned by UNP Media Head MP Mangala Samaraweera and the candidates were asked to conduct more pockets meeting at electorate level to educate the people”, he added.

“We are conducting our campaign basically focusing on the corruption of the government, heroin deals and cost of living issues affecting the common masses of the country”, he said.

“We are also planning to have at least three major rallies in each district in the two provinces in the run- up to the elections”, he added.

According to the Election Commissioner Mahinda Deshapriya they are preparing for the conduct of elections in free and fair manner and are expected to deploy 55,000 officials on election duties.

He said the Colombo district would have around 1,400 voting centres while 1,315 centres in Gampaha district, 615 in Kalutara, 704 in Galle, 405 in Hambantota, and 440 in Matara.

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