Its all systems go | Daily News

Its all systems go

As the curtain comes down on the local government polls campaign at midnight today electioneering for stakes in 341 LG councils went on at a frenzied pace on the final lap, as D'day drew near.

Notably, the centre stage, in this election, was held by the big guns, firing on all cylinders, although things looked calm and quiet at ground level, the phenomenon attributed by most to the change in the electoral system that confined campaigning by each candidate to his own neck of the woods.

This certainly is a welcome departure from the situation that prevailed under the PR system where a candidate had to cover an entire electorate at huge financial cost and also lending itself to both intra party and inter party rivalry resulting in violent outcomes.

Absent also in his election is the cacophony associated with past elections where campaigning intruded into the calm and quiet of daily existence of the ordinary folk.

Be that as it may, the whole electoral exercise, this time around, involved much higher stakes than that which obtains at a local government election in the ordinary course of events. For the first time the electorate is confronted with a three cornered battle fought in earnest by the UNP, SLFP/UPFA and the SLPP following the latter's split with the Blues. The JVP, too, has emerged as a not insignificant force at this election though it is doubtful it can give the major parties a run for their money, this time around too.

The SLPP of Prof. G. L. Peiris, who, obviously is acting as proxy for Mahinda Rajapaksa, has converted this local government election into a national referendum and is urging the voters to consider the larger national picture vis-a-vis the sale of state assets, attempts to divide the country through a new constitution and the bond issue, as enunciated also by Mahinda Rajapaksa and his Joint Opposition bandwagon.

This is in contrast to its strongly held view a few moons ago that the reasons for the increase in dengue, the accumulation of garbage and general state of disarray and neglect seen in the towns and villages was due to the government's willful delay in holding local government elections for three years. This has now being put on the back burner, with the fast moving events on the national scene seized on by the pohottuwites to garner votes.

It is doubtful though if these issues will help sway the voter in the way anticipated by the pohottuwa stalwarts. Into the bargain we have the pohottuwites hammering on the slogan that this election will be the stepping stone for the return of Mahinda Rajapaksa as Prime Minister. Others say this election will be the first salvo fired to send home the Yahapalanaya government.

The people in the towns and villages have until 2020 for this to happen, if at all, and they would not be looking forward to such a lengthy period for their woes in their localities to be attended through the allocation of state funds to the elected local councils. Both, the President, and, the Prime Minister, has, in not so many words said that only those councils controlled by the government will be allocated funds to carry out development work. One recalls the same injunction being made by late President D. B. Wijetunga on a local government election campaign on behalf of the UNP, henda thiyenne apey athe, the ladle is in our hand. Some may question the propriety of such statements, based on the argument that what is allocated are state funds, and also the will of the people ought to be respected.

However such nitty gritty, more often than not, are lost on the ordinary folk who may feel more secure voting for the government in power and enjoy it's largess.

Besides, the voters in the towns and the villages will be casting their ballot for locals who are familiar faces apey miniha. Mahinda Rajapaksa and other leaders will be furthest from the minds of the voters in an election of this nature, where local dynamics come into play.

Hence, MR and his acolytes may be barking up the wrong tree by asking the public to vote against the government to register their protests against the bond issue or sale of national assets which are matters far removed from the ken of ordinary folk.

In any event, the government should take cognizance of the results of this LG election and take steps to move forward in implementing the pledges made to the people. It should also take measures to address the rising cost of living and continue in earnest the development programmes that have taken a back seat due to the current election campaign. A decision will also have to be taken on the continuation of the Unity Government. Like the Prime Minister said, during a television interview on Monday, it is not possible for the SLFP to form a government of its own, since the UNP wields the majority. Hence, the status quo will have to continue after the poll. 


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Good who knows who they are entering the political scene. But society wants a country with contacts cooperation trust honesty with rational democratic principles.


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