Ranil back to political montessori
Most politicians spent almost the whole of the past week holding
post-mortems and reviewing the results of the Western and Southern
Provincial Council elections. As predicted, the ruling UPFA registered
landslide victories in the Western and Southern Provincial Councils with
The UPFA secured 33 seats in the Southern Provincial Council while
its closest rival the UNP manageed to win only 14 seats. In the Western
Provicial Council, the UPFA obtained 56 seats while the UNP won only 28
seats. The JVP and Sarath Fonseka-led Democratic Party (DP) won totals
of 11 and 12 seats in both the Provincial Councils.
Though it was obvious that the UPFA had once again emerged victorious
with thumping majorities, the Opposition political parties came out with
different theories to claim that they are the real victors. The manner
in which these bankrupt Opposition political parties adopted various
strategies to cover their defeats looked as if the UFPA has lost its
grip. But that fact remained that the UPFA's vote base at the 2010
general election remained intact.
Fonseka appeared to be overjoyed even with the few seats his party
managed to win. He even went to the extent of using his own jargon to
identify the Commissioner of elections, calling the polls chief as a
scarecrow. Fonseka found fault with the Elections Commissioner for the
DP's inability get more votes.
But Elections Commissioner Mahinda Deshapriya took Fonseka's wild
allegation lightly, saying that he does not mind being compared to a
scarecrow made of straw by Fonseka as a scarecrow had the power to at
least scare aware birds.
Speaking at a post poll media briefing, he made this comment with
reference to a remark by foul-mouthed Fonseka that Deshapriya was a
scarecrow made of straw.
"I am happy that he did not compare me to a dead body. A scarecrow is
at least an object with some power. It can scare away birds," Deshapriya
was quoted as saying.
Minister Basil creates history
Economic Development Minister Basil Rajapaksa set a unique example
not only to his party but also to all political parties in Sri Lanka.
Normally, the losing candidates are a forgotten lot in any party without
any attention from their party seniors. Though they spend a considerable
sum of money and campaign tirelessly for the parties they represent,
hardly anybody bothers to look into their fate or at least talk to them
after they fail to secure a seat.
But Minister Basil thought of changing this culture and appreciating
the roles played by the candidates who failed to secure seats. He hosted
all unsuccessful UPFA candidates at the Western and Southern Provincial
Council elections for a discussion followed by a dinner on the day the
preferential votes were released.
The losing UFPA candidates commended Basil's thoughtfulness, saying
no political party had held such unique event in the past. They thanked
the minister for caring about them and appreciating the roles played by
them to increase the vote base of the UPFA. Some losing candidates told
their grievances to the minister and he promised to look in to those and
find relief at party level.
That was not all. Basil later made a careful analysis of election
results and found that the UPFA had increased their percentage of votes
in every district. It was also noted that the Democratic Party has
polled lesser number of votes in the Western and Southern Provinces than
when the party leader Sarath Fonseka faced the 2010 presidential
Armed with those encouraging election trends and plus points of the
UPFA, the minister visited Temple Trees on Monday to brief the
John to cover Ranil's duties
When most UNP seniors had been busy with election campaigns during
the last couple of months, the National Leader of the UNP, Ranil
Wickremesinghe had been corresponding with an American university for an
advanced study program. Prior to the Western and Southern Provincial
Council elections, Ranil had already secured a deal and a sponsor sum
But he kept that a secret until the UNP suffered its 29th defeat
under his tottering leadership. Inside sources at Sirikotha sad
yesterday that Ranil expected even a worse defeat and secured the deal
to overcome humiliation in the event he was expelled from the party
Days after the UNP's humiliating Provincial Council elections defeat,
Ranil disclosed his plans to "study the latest trends in politics and
other related subjects".
He intends to leave for the US tomorrow on a month's lecturing
assignment at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT). Though
the US Embassy in Colombo claimed that they were unaware of Ranil's tour
as the MIT is not a government university, one could make a guess on
possible sponsors of the tour, if any.
"The MIT had invited me last year for a guest-lecturing assignment
but I was not ineterested in visiting a Western country at the time due
to the US-sponsored resolution against Sri Lanka.
"Now that the UNHRC sessions are over, I have now decided to accept
the invitation to be a guest-lecturer," Ranil was quoted as saying.
"During my lecture tour, "I will also study the latest trends in
politics, information technology, industrial developments and other
subjects. One of the best constitutions based on an executive prime
minister is functioning in Japan. That constitution was formulated by
the US," Ranil had said.
The UNP and Opposition leader had said that it is necessary to study
how to formulate a constitution, sans executive presidency. But the UNP
leader appeared to be least bothered after the UNP had suffered its 29th
defeat under his shaky leadership. Though a number of party members had
expressed concern over the party's predicament, Ranil, true to his usual
lackadaisical attitude, has decided to leave for the US, to teach as a
guest lecturer at Massachusetts.
Interestingly, Ranil said that he will be going to 'teach and not to
be taught' at MIT this time around. During his stint in the US, Ranil
will also be visiting Harvard University to study ways in which the
Executive Presidency can be abolished and a new Constitution, which
would be more suited to Sri Lanka, can be adopted.
Hirunika finishes on top
The daughter of slain Presidential Advisor Bharatha Lakshman
Premachandra, Hirunika Premachandra, polled the highest number of
preferential votes of the UPFA in the Colombo District at the Western
Provincial Council Election. She polled 139,034 preferential votes to
finish on top of the UPFA candidates list in Colombo, ahead of Jathiya
Hela Urumaya stalwart Udaya Gammanpila who obtained 115,638 votes.
Hirunika vowed that she would use her victory and her position to put
her native Kolonnawa electorate on the right track. She said she had
many other plans lined up for the future in order to serve the public.
"Everyone knows that the Kolonnawa electorate is the most corrupt in
the Colombo District, with many immoral activities going on. People have
proved at this election that they want a change. I will use my influence
and position as a Provincial Council member to put Kolonnawa on the
correct path," she said. Hirunika added that she had received more than
85% of the preferential votes in Kolonnawa.
Hirunika, one of the most popular candidates during the recent
Provincial Council election campaign, said she was also able to win more
votes for the UPFA in Colombo Central, where she is the party's co-organiser,
than it had won at previous Provincial Council Elections.
Actresses fail in Matara
Actresses Nadeesha Hemamali (UNP) and Anarkalli Akarsha (UPFA) had
something in common when they contested for the Southern Provincial
Council from Matara District. They had the identical preferential number
(2) in their political party lists. But both of them failed to secure a
seat at last weekend's elections.
The UNP secured only four seats in the Matara district and Nadeesha
finished way behind obtaining around 11,000 votes. But Nadeesha had said
the number of votes she had obtained could be considered a real victory,
considering the fact that she is a new entrant to politics and to Matara.
"I achieved a real victory with 11,000 preferential votes though I
wasn't able to secure a seat in the Southern Provincial Council.
This is my first election and I was new to Matara. I had to come all
the way from Colombo to contest in Matara and that had also affected my
campaign," she was quoted as saying. Nadeesha said her only objective
was to serve the people and not earn from politics unlike most of the
"I won't stop my political career and I will continue to engage with
the people," she said
Unlike Nadeesha, Anarkalli had served in the previous Southern
Provincial Council from the Galle district. But with veteran actress
Geetha Kumarasinghe contesting from Galle district, Anarkali was
compelled to move to the adjoining Matara district which ultimately
became a costly move.
Aanarkali had said that she would continue to engage in politics
despite her failure to garner enough votes in the preferential list in
the Matara district.
"I don't see this as a downfall or a defeat. Engaging in politics is
not an easy task, but somehow I did it for four and half years in the
Galle District," she said.
"I clearly requested the voters in Matara to vote for the party and
the UPFA won the election.
"I will continue my political battle aspiring even to enter
Parliament in the future," she said.
Anarkali claimed that she had been engaged in her political campaign
"like a lady" and played it by the rules. "I didn't use cheap tactics.
"I didn't give away inducements among the voters asking for their
votes. I campaigned like a lady," she said. She said that she was a
peace maker and said she was receiving the fullest support of the
Prasanna, Shan take oaths as CMs
Prasanna Ranatunga was sworn in as the Western Province Chief
Minister while Shan Wijeyalal de Silva was sworn in as the Southern
Province Chief Minister by President Mahinda Rajapaksa on Friday.
In addition to his Chief Minister post, Prasanna was also sworn in as
Minister of Finance and Planning, Local Government and Provincial
Administration, Law and Order, Education, Human Resources and
Employment, Engineering Services and Media.
Shan was sworn in as Minister Finance and Planning, Law and Order,
Local Government and Transport, Health and Indigenous Medicine, Tourism
and Engineering Services.
Western Provincial councillor Udaya Gammanpila was sworn in as
Minister of Agriculture, Agrarian Development, Minor Irrigation,
Industry and Environment, Cultural and Arts. Nimal Lansa, Ranjith
Somawansa and Upali Kodikara were also sworn in as Ministers. In the
Southern Provincial Council, Chandima Rasaputhra, Dayawansa and D.V.
Upul were sworn in as Ministers of Southern Provincial Council.
UNP positions to non-performers
While the UPFA offered the Chief Minister positions to those who had
polled the highest number of preferential votes, the UNP adopted a
different criteria in picking its Opposition Leaders for the Western and
Southern Provincial Councils.
The UNP Working Committee which met last week, decided to appoint
Manjusiri Arangala as the Opposition Leader of Western Provincial
Council and Thennekoon Nilame as the Opposition Leader of Southern
Arangala obtained 45,664 preferential votes at the recent Provincial
Council elections contesting from the Colombo District whereas
Thennakoon Nilame who contested from the Hambantota District obtained
Harshana Rajakaruna who obtained 51,000 votes contesting from the
Gampaha District will act as the Chief Opposition Whip of the Western
Provincial Council while Bandulal Bandarigoda of Galle District who
obtained 32,030 votes will act as the Chief Opposition Whip in the
Southern Provincial Council.
These decisions were made by the working committee meeting which met
with Party Leader Ranil Wickremesinghe at the chair. Informed sources at
Sirikotha said that the percentage of votes received by these candidates
out of the total number of votes obtained by the party and the seniority
had been taken into consideration when deciding on the posts.
Bandarigoda had said that he secured the first place in the UNP's
Galle district list even without a minor organiser post in a grama seva
"Though I have won four previous Provincial Council elections, I was
not even given the responsibility of organising even a grama seva
division, forget about the district leadership altogether," he was
quoted as saying.
Bandarigoda said though he was ill-treated by the party, his victory
was made possible by the UNP supporters in the district and that he
salutes them with profound gratitude.
Kabir bats for UNP
Unlike in most previous elections, UNP General Secretary Tissa
Attanayake did not come to the rescue of the party in a post-election
press conference. Instead, UNP chairman Kabir Hashim did the hard work
of justifying the UNP's performance.
The UNP claimed on Thursday that the 'anti-government' votes had been
recorded as 46% in the Western Province and 41% in the Southern province
and said it would work with other opposition parties in the two
UNP parliamentarian Lakshman Kiriella told a news conference the
international community had lost confidence in Sri Lanka and the country
could not hope to rebuild its international image by winning elections.
UNP Leadership Council President Karu Jayasuriya too gave several
lame excuses to cover UNP's defeats.
He claimed that the Government had blatantly violated election laws.
Karu, infamous for losing even to actress Paba at the last general
election, claimed that the elections were not free and fair.
Perhaps, Karu is the only person who had made such claim in a
desperate bid to find excuses for UNP's defeat.
Sajith, Hema, Dulanjali call President
The family of former President, the late R. Premadasa made a
desperate bid for survival after Dulanjali Premadasa was caught in a
forged currency drama. She was caught in a bank with forged Rs. 5,000
notes amounting to Rs. 2.1 million.
But she claimed that the forged notes had been given to her by an
owner of a garment factory as her share of an investment.
Though the normal practice is to arrest such persons and conduct
investigations, Dulanjali was fortunate to go scot free due to the
efforts of her mother and brother.
When Dulanjali was caught in the bank with forged currency notes, she
alerted her mother Hema Premadasa and brother, Hambantota district UNP
MP Sajith Premadasa.
Both of them immediately called the President and pleaded for help,
claiming that Dulanjali was innocent and that she had got the money from
a businessmen. Later, Dulanjali too called the President on the matter.
Instead of arresting Dulanjali straightaway, the Police went on the
clue given by her and apprehended a businessman who is said to have
given the forged notes to the ex-President's daughter.
The businessman - Managing Director of a garment factory who was
arrested on charges of having printed counterfeit currency notes
equivalent to Rs.2.2 million was granted bail by Colombo Chief
Magistrate Gihan Pilapitiya last week.
He was released on a Rs.100,000 cash bail and four sureties of Rs.1
million each. The Magistrate directed that two of the sureties should be
The UPFA could have got extensive political mileage as Dulanjali was
caught up in high drama on the eve of the Provincial Council elections.
But the President set an exemplary act by asking the UPFA not to descend
to that level. At a time Dulanjalee's brother Sajith had been engaged in
a determined election campaign in Hambantota, the Government could have
gone to town with the incident but did not do so.
Instead, the UNP's internal battle came to light with newspapers
owned by Ranil's uncle going to town by connecting the Premadasa family
to the incident.
It was an obvious move to sling mud at Sajith and promote Ranil's
nephew as the future leader of the UNP.
The Premadasa family would undoubtedly be grateful to the President
for his exemplary act at a time their own party was trying to capitalise
on the incident.
Maithri says that he comes from a UNP family
Health Minister Maithripala Sirisena, who is also the General
Secretary of the SLFP, last week claimed that he comes from a staunch
UNP family and once almost got hammered by his father for supporting the
Communist Party as a student.
Maithri made these disclosure when he was in the midst of a group of
old farmers in his native Polonnaruwa constituency brought down on his
instructions to the Vijaya Kumaratunga Eye Hospital in Seeduwa for eye
treatment last week.
This group of 40 farmers underwent cataract eye surgeries to correct
their eye sight and Minister Sirisena visited them before they left the
hospital after successful surgery.
Speaking to farmer who is over 80 years old and known to him from his
younger days, Minister Sirisena asked him whether he has a better eye
The farmer who profusely thanked Minister Sirisena said, he
recollected the day when young Sirisena was driven away from home by his
The doctors who treated the farmers from Polonnaruwa were keen to
know the full story and the minister obliged.
"My father was a die-hard UNPer and had a high regards for Prime
Minister D.S. Senanayake. But I was inclined towards the Communist Party
(CP - Peking) led by N. Shanmugadasan from my tender age. I was a
supporter of the Communist Party from the age of 12," Maithrti said.
"I called Shanmugadasan 'comrade' but the age difference between us
was more than 40 years. My father used to ask me as to how a 50 year old
man became my comrade.
My father used to reprimand me when I came home late after party
work. One day he threatened me and said I would be driven away from home
if I did not resign from the CP and join the UNP" he explained.