Election monitors say there have been a significant number of incidents of post-election violence in different parts of the country. Some members of the Sri Lanka Podujana Peramuna (SLPP), which emerged victorious at Saturday’s local government polls, are alleged to have been involved therein. The SLPP must take serious notice of these complaints. True, thankfully, there have been no large-scale, organised attacks, but it is unfortunate that at least some of the SLPP candidates and their backers have got involved in untoward incidents. The problem with power is that it goes to one’s head in next to no time and makes one’s bestial traits to manifest themselves. One of the main reasons for President Mahinda Rajapaksa’s crushing defeat at the last presidential election (2015) and the subsequent collapse of his government was his failure to rein in violent elements loyal to him.
Now that the credit for the SLPP’s spectacular win has been given to Mahinda—and rightly so—there is no way he can avoid the responsibility for the commissions and omissions of the candidates and supporters of the newly formed party. Let no lame excuses be trotted out.
It is only too well known that many people blindly voted for the SLPP without knowing who the candidates to be elected to their wards were because they were eager to facilitate Mahinda’s comeback. They must now be aware of the identities of their representatives and, with the passage of time, they will come to know those politicians for what they really are. Unless the winning politicians conduct themselves properly and live up to the expectations of the public they will ruin the SLPP’s chances of winning another election.
Meanwhile, some of the hate figures responsible for Mahinda’s downfall in 2015 are crawling out of the woodwork and their presence is also sure to put off many a voter averse to corruption and abuse of power, at future elections. Surrounded by such elements, Mahinda needs no enemies. The post-polls euphoria will be short-lived and sobering political reality is bound to dawn on the electorate sooner than expected. It doesn’t take long for the anti-incumbency sentiments to set in and have a corrosive effect on the winning party’s popularity.
Winning an election is one thing but carrying out what a popular mandate is obtained for is quite another. The yahapalana leaders have had a collective pratfall, a very painful one at that, because they were labouring under the delusion that they could remain popular with their rhetoric and sloganeering. Others can learn from their mistakes and predicament. The task Mahinda has undertaken is akin to cleaning the Augean stables, nay it is doubly daunting in that he is now without state power and sufficient funds at his disposal.
Worse, the government is all out to make him a failure so as to ruin the SLPP’s chances of winning the next election. There will be sinister attempts to starve the SLPP-controlled local government bodies of funds besides political interference, harassment and various other hurdles slapped in his path. He has to gird up his loins for a war of sorts if he is not to fail.
The dengue menace which has so far been the yahapalana government’s baby will be Mahinda’s hereafter in most parts of the country. Tiny mozzies have the potential to ruin the popularity of his party overnight and even make life miserable for him though he has earned a reputation as the Slayer of Tigers.
Sri Lankans being Sri Lankans will also expect him to perform miracles such as rehabilitating rural road networks, building culverts and bridges etc. within weeks of the formation of new councils.
It may be recalled that not even the Moragahakanda project, which is expected to benefit hundreds of thousands of people in Polonnaruwa, Anuradhapura and Matale, helped President Maithripala Sirisena’s SLFP/UPFA win in those three districts last Saturday.
If SLPP fails to deliver, public consternation will be directed at Mahinda. He failed to manage his electoral fortunes after his impressive win in 2010; whether he will act differently and be able to consolidate his power remains to be seen.
Instead of calling for more elections, he and his comrades-in-arms should formulate an action plan to run the LG bodies, under their control, efficiently and make a difference at the grassroots level while ensuring that all newly elected SLPP members and their backers behave. Mere rhetoric won’t do.
Instead of calling for more elections, Mahinda should formulate an action plan to run the LG bodies – Can he? No….. No Way.