Growing outcry against engineering of crossovers with incentives
Posted on December 29th, 2017


There is an increasing chorus against the engineering of defections in the run up to the local government polls as it is to the disadvantage of those unable to provide incentives for such crossovers.

UNP Colombo District MP Mujibur Rahman yesterday said that ongoing wave of defections in the run up to February 10 local government polls was severely undermining much repeated National Election Commission (NEC) promise to ensure a level playing field.

MP Rahman said so when The Island asked him whether the party was concerned about politicians and supporters of political parties, including UNPers switching allegiance to its coalition partner, the SLFP.

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The UNPer emphasized that the NEC should make its position clear on the defections though they weren’t contrary to the election laws.MP Rahman pointed out the absurdity in arresting those pasting posters while defections take place. Although MP Rahman didn’t refer to specific cases, obviously he was reacting to defections engineered by the SLFP.

The NEC as well as those who had been demanding free and fair elections couldn’t turn a blind eye to what was taking place.

Two leading polls monitoring groups, People’s Action for Free and Fair and Election (PAFFREL) and Network for Election Monitoring (NEM), too, yesterday said that politicians switching their allegiance to other parties and some accepting portfolios were causing serious concern though such practices couldn’t be legally challenged.

PAFFREL Executive director Rohana Hettiarachchi yesterday told The Island that the right of the members of parliament to switch sides couldn’t be disputed. However, such defections certainly had propaganda value and were meant to promote a party at the expense of another, he said.

Asked whether the March 12 Movement meant to promote free and fair elections and enhance quality of candidates had taken up defections and members receiving ministerial portfolios in accordance with its overall objectives, Hettiarachchi acknowledged the grouping never took up the issue.

Hettiarachchi admitted that this matter hadn’t so far received the attention it required.

Attorney-at-law Anuradha Keerawella of NEM told The Island that though ‘crossovers’ weren’t contrary to current laws, such practices during campaign period caused moral issue.

NEC Chairman Mahinda Deshapriya wasn’t available to obtain his views on the statements made by MP Rahman, Hettiarachchi and Keerawella.

Both Hettiarachchi and Keerawella expressed concern over the electorate being influenced by defections and offering of ministerial portfolios meant to enhance popularity of a particular party.

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