Posted on May 18th, 2024

By Sena Thoradeniya

(Continued from April 09, 2024)

1. Introduction- Economic, Political, Socio-cultural Factors Influencing Polls

In our earlier essay posted on April 09, 2024, we invited our readers to forget arithmetical calculations and predictions based on absurd statistical computations and to pay attention to economic, political, socio-cultural factors influencing polls, in relation to Sri Lanka. In the second part of this essay, we intend to discuss briefly such economic, political and socio-cultural factors which influenced the electoral victories in 1956, 1970, 1977, 1994, 2005, 2010, 2019 and 2020respectively. Without giving due consideration to historical and cultural memory it’s a futile exercise predicting election victories based on absurd mathematical computations.

Our conclusion is that factors that were favourable to winners in 1956, 1970, 1977, 1994, 2005, 2010,2019 and 2020 do not exist today in favour of an NPP victory. Above all else personal attributes and leadership qualities of the NPP leader are disadvantageous for an electoral victory.

2. SWRD in 1956

In 1956 people were disillusioned with the government run by the comprador- bourgeoisie and its ally feudal landed gentry. SWRD was hailed as the messiah Diyasena Kumaraya who would bring prosperity to a ruined nation economically and culturally. Sanga-Veda- Guru-Govi- Kamkaru Pancha Maha Balavegayaall-inclusive force was in the forefront of the struggle representing the oppressed and exploited classes and segments of the society.  E-con e-news in its 03-09 December, 2023 edition gave a new interpretation to Sanga-Veda-Guru-Govi- Kamkaru Pancha Maha Balavegaya. It referred not only to the segments as such but also to its symbolic components, Sangha symbolizing peoples’ spiritual and moral development, Veda, their health and wellbeing, Guru their education and propagation of knowledge, Govi their agriculture, food production and environment, Kamkaru their physical activity, energy and industries, which cannot be diluted merely as a slogan alone. But unfortunately, such an interpretation did not come from 1956 ideologues; this interpretation has been stored away and parroted as a slogan for a long time by SLFP supporters, later to be discarded by themselves.

People were looking for an opportunity for the realization of what they failed to achieve at 1947 Parliamentary Elections and 1953 hartal respectively. As Dr. Gunadasa Amarasekera has stated in his many writings, 1956 was the culmination of the national reawakening and resurgence movement spearheaded by Anagarika Dharmapala. After several centuries of colonial domination people realized that 1947 so-called independence did not bring any desired changes economically, politically and culturally. 

It should be remembered that 1956 victory was not a personal victory of SWRD. The Mahajana Eksath Peramuna (MEP) which he led was a coalition of SWRD’s SLFP, Philip Gunawardena’s Viplavakari Lanka Sama Samaja Party, (VLSSP), a splinter group of LSSP, Dahanayake’s Bhasha Peramuna and Iriyagolla’s party and it had a no contest pact with the two left parties LSSP and CP in many electorates.

Anura Kumara and his NPP should take this into consideration that electoral victories excluding 1977 were won by coalitions.

How can NPP/JVP match its leader to SWRD, pipe-smoking, Oxford educated orator, dubbed as the silver tongue of Asia, son of Low Country Maha Mudaliyar, married to Mahavelatenna Kandyan aristocracy, Minister in the State Council, Minister of Health and Local Government and Leader of the House in the first Parliament, leader of the opposition in 1952,   believed as the Diyasena Kumaraya born to spearhead the 2500 Buddha Jayanti Celebrations. We have listed these attributes not because we are crusaders attempting to perpetuate those comprador- bourgeois, feudal attributes, but to show that these are indelible imprints manifest in peoples’ consciousness which give an impetus to electoral tides in Sri Lanka.

In addition, MEP had a myriad of stalwarts in all the districts (the list is too long, although some were disgraced later). UNP giants” were fallen by some new entrants unknown and unheard of. Holding elections on a staggered basis on three separate days (first day polls in the most favourable constituencies for the ruling party) had a devastating effect on the outcome. UNP won 8 seats on the first day, but could not improve beyond that.

Anura Kumara or NPP do not have any of these favourable conditions.

3. Sirimavo in 1970

Dudley Senanayaka’s Hath Havula” (7-party coalition) was a political disaster. For many years the country was governed by emergency regulations. The press gag was something akin to digging its own grave. Importation of books from socialist countries was banned. Government’s much publicized waga sangramaya” (Grow More Food Campaign) was a farcical exercise as it had alienated millions of acres of virgin forests to multinational companies which brought minimum results except providing tax concessions, mini – mokes   and other benefits to investors”. Government sponsored Govi Hamudawa” (Land Army) raised more eyebrows rather than perceiving it as a band of unemployed youth as it was headed by a retired Army Captain and aroused suspicion as an auxiliary army or a fledgling para-military force.

Cold-blooded murder of a Buddhist monk at a demonstration at Kollupitiya alienated the Sinhala Buddhists from the government.

Three-party coalition of SLFP, LSSP and CP was gaining grounds as a formidable force winning bye-elections and local government elections held. Of 9 bye-elections held from 1966 September, the coalition were victorious in 8 constituencies.

Post-1965 period marked the emergence of several revolutionary political groups, all were anti-UNP, the political party of the comprador bourgeoisie, the common or the real enemy of all. The tri-party coalition was perceived as a friendly force.

Internationally, conditions in Vietnam and Cambodia were favorable for anti-American peoples’ forces and the final victory over US aggressors and their lackeys was imminent. Liberation movements in Africa were gathering momentum.  

Anura Kumara or NPP do not have any of these favourable conditions.

4. JR in 1977

Austerity measures adopted by the Coalition government of Sirimavo, was the main weapon used by the JR led UNP in 1977. UNP promised a package of Eta Ata (eight cereals) to the needy and a Dharmishta Samajaya” (Righteous Society). Suppression of 1971 JVP-led insurrection, land reforms, state-sponsored industries, trade and services were used by its political opponents to deceive the gullible voters as examples of Bonapartism, authoritarianism, nepotism, cronyism, corruption and mismanagement.

It was an anti-austerity drive and an anti-incumbent protest vote; UNPers succeeded promising to lift bans imposed on apples and grapes.

Kicking out LSSP from the government, intensification of inner-party struggle that led to the leaving of a group of influential MPs, CP leaving the government at a later stage made devastating blows to the government in power, crowning the UNP with a 5/6 majority and total annihilation of the Left.

It was a victory of local and international conspirators, those who were affected by land reforms, foreign exchange racketeers and 1962 coup suspects.    

Anura Kumara or NPP do not have any of these favourable conditions.

At the first Presidential Elections held in 1982 JR contesting as the incumbent President (the absurd slogan was Janadhipathi durayata Janadipathithuma” (elect President as the President!) won polling 3,450,811 votes (52.91%). His biggest advantage was the depriving of his major opponent Sirimavo’s civic rights, his Dharmishta Government disqualifying her to contest. Hector Kobbekaduwa polled 2,548,438 votes. Wijeweera obtained only 2,73,428 votes.

R. Premadasa won the 1988 Presidential Elections obtaining 2,569,199 votes (50.43%). He polled 881,612 votes (or 25.55%) less than the votes obtained by JR, 6 years ago in 1982. Total polled in 1988 as a percentage was 55.31% as against 81.06% in 1982. Violence unleashed by JVP/DJV heavily impacted on voter turnover which helped a Premadasa victory.   

5. CBK in 1994

CBK is the daughter of two illustrious Prime Ministers of Sri Lanka SWRD and Sirimavo respectively. Although widely disputed by her opponents she had her higher education in France, some say at Sorbonne and some at University of Paris Sciences Po, Institut d’Etudes Politique. She boasted that she was preparing for her doctorate in Political Science and actively participated in demonstrations of May ’68 Paris”.   Under her mother’s stewardship she was the Additional Director of Land Reforms Commission (LRC) and Chairman of Janawasa Commission. Social scientists, who later became either the core members of Sri Lankan NGO cabal or apologists of Ealaam praised the experiments of youth farms opened under the aegis of Janawasa Commission as collective farms and examples for socialist collectivization of agriculture. Although collectivization of agricultureunder a capitalist government was a daydream and Dharmishta Government disbanded the Janawasa Commission, its influence remained among the rural youth.

Assassination of her husband by the JVP/DJV brought island wide sympathy to her and her two children and they were treated as victims. Her return to the fold of SLFP after experimenting with Mahajana Party and Bahujana Nidahas Peramuna and their political swindlers, bolstered her position in the political arena.

People who were fed up with 17 years of UNP totalitarian rule marked with murder, human rights abuses, opening doors to robber barons, killing local industries and SOEs, selling of national assets, dictatorial political culture, underworld armies nurtured by politicos attacking political opponents,suppressing media, election rigging, stuffing of ballot boxes, proscribing student unions, abducting student leaders and teacher- trainees, torture and killing,politics entering every sphere of activity,  were waiting to get rid of it.  UNP killed thousands of youth, burnt them on tire pyres or buried them in mass graves; each ruling party member had their torture chambers, Batalanda becoming the most notorious of all.

Thousands of workers who participated in the 1980 General Strike who demanded a pay hike of 1 rupee a day were sacked under most inhuman conditions. One striking worker Somapala was killed by UNP goons. Several strikers who lost their jobs committed suicide. UNP bigwigs demanded the strikers to hide in burrows of paddy-field crabs whilst the leader declared that the elephant had only swung its tail.  

SLFP and its allies winning Southern Provincial Council Elections was the beginning of her meteoric rise. Exhumation of Suriyakanda mass graves propelled her as the modern Vihara Devi. Killing of Premadasa by the LTTE made the UNP rudderless. A benevolent President Wijetunga dissolved the Parliament which was absolute godsend.

Winning a seat from Gampaha electoral district, polling 464, 588 preferential votes, becoming the Chief Minister of the Western Province in 1993-1994and Prime Minister in Parliamentary Elections held in August 1994made her passage to presidency an easy task.

NGOs, so-called alternate media, agents of Ealaam separatists, those campaigned for a negotiated settlement with the Tamil Tigers giving whatever they wanted on a platter and those elements who wanted to become her negotiators, all supported her. It is said that the godfather of Sinhala alternate media selected her photo with that captivating smile for propaganda purposes. This same person writing a book titled Bandit Queen” later was a different story. 

Her catchphrase socialism with a human face”, once tested in former Czechoslovakia during Prague Spring” in 1968 (actually an attempt of restoration of capitalism in the guise of liberalization and socialism with a human face”), dispelled the misgivings of the capitalist class that she will usher a socialist state, whilst her supporters were confused about its true meaning. Furthermore, she had the support of old left, Muslim parties and parties representing plantation workers.

Assassination of her main rival Gamini Dissanayake of UNP when he was campaigning made her presidential race a tussle between two widows and a walk in the park. CBK polled 4,709,205 votes obtaining 62.28% with a majority of 1,928,442 over her closest rival. 

JVP proxy Nihal Galappaththi polled only 22,749 votes.

CBK won all the electoral districts in Sri Lanka and all polling divisions except Mahiyangana. Polling only 8 votes she won Point Pedro polling division! This shows how statistics become a mockery.

Anura Kumara or NPP do not have any of these favourable conditions.

Town Hall bomb incident in 1999 in which LTTEtargeted CBKat apresidential election rally, swung the pendulum in favour of CBK over RW. She obtained 4,312,157 votes (or 51.12%), a clear sign of her dwindling popularity.  

Nandana Gunatillake of JVP managed to get only 344,173 votes. 

7. MR in 2005

MR won the Presidential Elections in 2005 polling 4,887,152 (or 50.29%) votes. RW obtained 4,706,366 (48.43%) votes. The number of valid votes received by the winning candidate over the closest opponent was just 180,786 votes. The conspiracy theory propagated by the media was that the LTTE engineered a MR victory forcing Tamil voters to boycott Presidential Elections. Statistics reveal that this was successful only in Jaffna electoral district. Only 8524 (or 1.21% of the total registered voters) voted for any candidate in Jaffna electoral district. Figures for Vanni, Batticaloa, Digamadulla and Trincomalee electoral districts were 34.30%, 48.51%, 72.70% and 63.84% respectively.

It is foolhardy to expect such an election boycott from any quarter in favour of Anura Kumara or NPP.

8. MR in 2010

Result of 2010 Presidential Election was a foregone conclusion. War winning incumbent president MR polled 6,015,934 votes (57.88%). Sarath Fonseka with the support of UNP, JVP, TNA and other Tamil and Muslim parties polled only 4,173,185 votes (40.15%). MR polled 1,128,728 more votes than he polled in 2005.

Anura Kumara or NPP has not won anything rather than opening their windbags, exposing themselves day after day with their nonsensical utterances, which will be described in part III of this essay.  

7. GR in 2019

What were the economic, political, socio-cultural factors that influenced SLPP or Pohottuwato obtain 6,924,255 (or 52.25%) at the Presidential Elections in 2019 and 6,853,693 (or 59.09% or 145 seats; 39 more than what MR got in 2004.) at the Parliamentary Elections held in 2020 respectively?

Political chaos started with Sirisena appointing RW who had nearly 30 odd seats in the Parliament as the Prime Minister chasing away the incumbent Prime Minister D. M. Jayaratne and his Cabinet of Ministers when he was declared as the President defeating MR in 2005. At the ensuing Parliamentary elections Sirisena deprived an SLFP victory with his manipulations and rhetoric. He reinstated impeached Chief justice and evaporated” the position of her successor. Later Sirisena engineered a short-lived political coup bringing MR as the Prime Minister.

Yahapalana regime annulled the 1958 foreign Exchange Control Act and relaxed policies in 2017 enabling racketeers to park foreign exchange in foreign countries which was a key factor causing economic downturn.

Yahapalana regime began its nefarious activities soon after coming into power with the first bond scam. It was the biggest scam made by any government in the economic front and from there the Yahapalana regime was thrown into its death bed. From then onwards yahapalana coffin was nailed. Yahapalanists defended the treasury bond racketeers; much hyped slogan of bringing rogues into book with the aid of Anura Kumara has become a distant dream. People were disheartened as the government put intelligence operatives in custody. War winning military leaders who led the forces to victory over ruthless separatists were hounded and the yahapalana government co-sponsored a resolution against the Sri Lankan State at Geneva, commonly known as Geneva betrayal. Unitary State of Sri Lanka was in jeopardy as NGOs, TNA and Ealamists were hatching for a United Sri Lanka in the name of constitutional amendments.

Yahapalana regime gave importance to reckless borrowing; it burrowed USD 12.5 billion at high interest rate from the international bond market; how that money was spent remained a mystery. It sold Hambantota port to China on a 99-year lease. JVP/NPP supported and tolerated all these activities or were silent as the wise monkeys.

Corruption and wrongdoings of yahapalana regime were legion.Incompetence was its whole mark. Tussle between the President and the Prime Minister made governance inoperative.

Busloads of Rajapaksa loyalists trekking the way to Medamulana, bastion of the defeated President, became a normal occurrence. From Nugegoda Rajapaksas rose again. People were eagerly awaiting an opportunity to get rid of this bunch who were engaged in fraudulent activities.

At the 2018 local government elections newly formed Pohottuwa polled 5,006,832 votes or40.47% of the total votes cast. It was the greatest setback of yapalanaya.

With the Easter Sunday massacre the people realized that the national security has been weakened and there is no security to the ordinary citizens. Easter Sunday massacre occurred due to security lapses and lenient policy adopted towards Muslim terrorists.

MS-RW rivalry and MS appointing MR as PM aggravated the crisis and showed to the public that this lot was not capable of governing and maintaining security of the country.

We have listed some favorable factors for the Pohottuwa to win the Presidential elections and subsequently the Parliamentary elections respectively, which are common knowledge to all, which does not need extensive research.

With all above mentioned favorable economic, political, socio-cultural factors Gotabhaya polled only 69 lakhs (6,924,255) votes, or a meager 52.25 as a percentage. This shows with all these favorable factors how difficult it is to pass the 50% barrier at a Presidential election.

Though he failed as a President due to various factors and had to abdicate his presidency, personal attributes of GR profoundly augmented his victory at the Presidential Elections. He was a son and a nephew of two well-known politicians in the South, younger brother of MR. On top of that he spearheaded the victory over Tamil terrorists in his capacity as the Secretary of Defense.  As the Secretary of Urban Development, he was responsible for beautification of the city.     

Now we pose the question whether there are any such favorable economic, political, socio-cultural factors, what were favorable to all preceding Prime Ministerial and Presidential candidates for Malimawa and its Presidential candidate Anura Kumara? Answer is none.

Future of Sri Lanka as an independent sovereign state under US and Indian hegemonic influence is at stake. Against this background Anura Kumara could become the President only in a cloud cuckoo land!

(NEXT: PART III: Personal attributes and leadership qualities of AKD; Great Man Theory; Disadvantages of NPP; The myth that JVP/NPP did not participate in governance; JVP/NPP behavior during the crisis in 2022; For what reasons people give NPP a chance; AKD’s Team; Internal contradictions within NPP; Utterances of JVP front liners; Ranil’s maneuverings; Political dynamics and unpredictable nature of voters; JVP/NPP volte-face; Future of Sri Lanka as an independent  sovereign state under US and Indian hegemonic influence.)  

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