Too many no hopers in race for presidency
Posted on October 13th, 2019

By Shivanthi Ranasinghe Courtesy Ceylon Today

The length of the name list of the 35 candidates, at the upcoming presidential election is two feet and two inches. One may argue that this is a testament of the democracy that now prevails in the country.

 This is only true if all these contenders have come forward to serve the purpose. We are in the process of electing a leader for our country to move forward and this is the only intent the candidates ought have.

 After all, democracy is not a show of more hands, but on making an informed decision based on true facts.

The chairman of the Election Commission, Mahinda Deshapriya, was not amused by the fact that the Commission now has 35 candidates before them to manage. As taxpayers, we too should not be amused as we have an enormous bill to foot.

Democracy or not, the question also before us is whether we have the luxury of entertaining such a large group of candidates. After all, as Deshapriya succinctly noted, there will only be one winner. Indeed, this is a race that will not have even a runner-up.

The matter becomes even more contentious when the serious choices before us boil down to only two candidates. 

This means that we are being made to bear the cost for 33 candidates, whose true intent do not meet with the intent of the election.

These candidates are only in the campaign for purposes that are either for cosmetic, to disrupt the natural flow of floating votes or promote their own ideology.

The two natural choices before us are Gotabaya Rajapaksa and Sajith Premadasa.

GR is commanding the support base of both the SLPP and the SLFP, not to mention the numerous political entities that make up the composition of the UPFA. Premadasa is the hope of the UNP with the political parties Tamil Progressive Alliance, SLMC and ACMC giving their maximum support.

Anura Kumara Dissanayake, too, should have been a choice before us. After all, he represents the JVP, which had been a political party that had played an active role in our contemporary history.

 The JVP is a political party that had always attracted  radicals, who are uncompromisingly disdainful of capitalism.

Yet, under Dissanayake the JVP has been reduced to a shell organisation. It is most ironic that the integrity of the hardcore leftists have got dissolved in the politics of the most right wing party of Sri Lanka. Today, even foreign journalists dismiss Dissanayaka as an UNP stooge.

Dissanayake’s role in this election is very clear. His presence will give the JVP loyalist a reason to go to the polling booth.

 More importantly, the forces backing Dissanayake hope the virgin voter will think of the JVP as the deserving third force needed by a county that had been let down by the two main parties.

 These forces are banking on the new voter’s political ignorance. After all, since the obliteration of the JVP founder Wijeweera, as a party the JVP had been relatively tame.

During the Chandrika Kumaratunga Government and even during the early days of the Mahinda Rajapaksa Administration, the JVP actually played a patriotic role. 

JVP is the reason for the Northern and the Eastern provinces to be treated as separate provinces altogether. Before, these two provinces were treated as one, which was very convenient to the Eelamists.

However, the massive economic revival under the Rajapaksa Administration began to corrode the JVP base. The JVP ideology is most appealing to those who are the most economically marginalised in the society. 

Socialist views that are fuelled with the resentment of those with economic and social opportunities began to fade with economic benefits reaching even the most marginalised societies.

The JVP leadership immediately pulled out of the Rajapaksa camp. They seem to be of the notion that the country must be in some sort of crisis for them to survive.

 They thus became major players to oust the Rajapaksa Administration in both 2010 and 2015.

They are the Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde of the Yahapalana Government. Pretending to be Opposition, the JVP parliamentarians supported and protected not only the evilness of the Yahapalana Government, but also its survival.

They will continue to play this role during this election campaign. As the Yahapalana Government began its quick descent to unpopularity, a new campaign emerged in support of a third political force.

 This third force is justified on the basis that the two main parties have failed. Dissanayake coming into the fray is in an obvious attempt to bag the votes of those who are searching for this third force.

Most of the candidates are coming on this platform, offering themselves as the third force. Nagananda Kodithuwakku who clearly hoped to be in the forefront of this race was rudely replaced by General Mahesh 

Senanayake at the last minute. Nagananda is clearly miffed, but General Senanayake actually has a better chance of gaining ground than Nagananda.

 After all, General Senanyake as the former Sri Lanka Army Commander has more recognition than a lawyer who had suddenly popped out of thin air.

None of these forces believe that they can win this presidential election. However, they are hoping the cosmetic upgrade they get from being a mere citizen with a vote to an actual presidential candidate getting votes will give them the credentials to contest at the subsequent general elections.

The votes they will bag will mostly come from the first time voter as well as those who voted for the Yahapalana Government in 2015, but have since then got disillusioned.

They still yearn for Good Governance, which some do not believe the Rajapaksas can deliver. Despite the passage of four and half years that had passed, the allegations against the Rajapaksas stands. 

Investigations, some specifically initiated by special units, have either exonerated or had been inconclusive.

While some who voted for a Yahapalana Government now had changed their views about the Rajapaksa Administration, some others are still shopping for the alternate platform devoid of the likes of Ranil Wickremesinghe, but one who would deliver Good Governance. 

It is to bag these votes that these alternate forces have joined the race.
However, all this creates a division in the vote bases. It is not possible for these micro mini parties to garner a majority, for which they too are grateful.

Having never before participated in National politics, they certainly do not have the experience to do so. Also, until general elections, they will be the sole presence from their team in the Parliament.

 When a president with a minority in the Parliament is not a good idea as experience can attest, a lone president would be an absolute disaster.

Therefore the voter must be discerning and not use his vote to teach anyone a lesson. This vote is to elect a leader for the country.

 We must make peace that none of the candidates can offer us an utopia. Hence, we too must make our expectations realistic and cast our vote to 

the one whose vision will help us create a comfortable and secure life for ourselves and our loved ones than one who is striving for a politically correct solution.


2 Responses to “Too many no hopers in race for presidency”

  1. Ananda-USA Says:

    We must institute MINIMUM CRITERIA for selecting candidates for the Presidency based on their capability to demonstrate a MINIMUM level of support among the voters.

    To do NOTHING would be to CONTINUE WASTING our National Resources and DIVERTING the ATTENTION of the voters away from Leaders capable of winning, and from ISSUES worth addressing at a National Level.

  2. Dilrook Says:

    The ability to win is determined by the voters. So all contestants must be allowed.

    Despite the long list of candidates, Sinhala interests are not reflected in any of their promises, manifestos and associations. So there is a lot more room for more candidates.

    Mahesh has to promise better pay condiions for soldiers including retirees and disabled soldiers. Better access to government services to their families.

    This way he can win at least 5% of the vote which can be used to secure about 10 parliamentary seats and champion the interests of war heroes’ families.

    Since winning the war, inflation adjusted economic conditions of war heroes have not improved.

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