CWC-led UPFA set to secure plantation region
UPF on its own, Chandrasekeran’s wife in the fray
JVP unlikely to win single seat in CP
Parliamentary polls 2010-Nuwara Eliya District

Although President Mahinda Rajapaksa failed to secure the Nuwara Eliya electoral district at the recently concluded presidential polls, the UPFA is confident that it could win the district at the forthcoming parliamentary polls.

District leader, Livestock Development Minister C. B. Ratnayake yesterday told The Island that the SLFP-led UPFA would definitely win Nuwara Eliya, though the Opposition believed it could retain the district, which it won at the last parliamentary polls. He said that the UPFA could obtain five out of seven seats in the district, thereby sweeping the Central Province.

The JVP is unlikely to secure a single seat in the province if it contested on its own due to the UNP’s refusal to compromise the ‘elephant’ symbol.

Responding to our queries, he said that the Opposition couldn’t match the UPFA-CWC combine in Nuwara Eliya even if the UNP and the JVP joined hands. The UNP had conveniently forgotten that the CWC had fielded candidates on the UNP ticket at the last parliamentary polls, he said.

The UNP won all four electorates, namely Hanguranketha, Walapone, Kotmale and Nuwara Eliya-Maskeliya comfortably to win four out of seven seats. The CWC secured three (Arumugam Thondaman, Muttu Sivalingham and Shanmugam Jegadhiswaran) out of four seats, leaving the remaining seat to one-time Health Minister Renuka Herath. The UPFA secured two seats (C. B. Ratnayake and N. D. N. P. Jayasinghe, a JVP nominee on the UPFA list) while P. Chandrasekeran, the then leader of the Upcountry People’s Front (UPF) took the remaining seat.

The UNP polled a staggering 1,76,971 votes (54.02 %) against the UPFA’s 82,945 (25.32 %), while the UPF came a distant third with 49,728 votes (15.18 %).

Minister Ratnayake said that the UNP was in total disarray in their one-time stronghold with no one to spearhead the campaign. He said that the President had named CWC leader Arumugam Thondaman as the Deputy Leader of the district to strengthen the alliance. According to him, the UPFA would field five Sinhala and five Tamil speaking candidates.

In keeping with the Parliamentary Elections Act, political parties contesting the polls will nominate three candidates in addition to the actual number of members elected to each electoral district.

Investment Promotion Minister Navin Dissanayake said that the Opposition wouldn’t stand a chance in Nuwara Eliya. Dissanayake, one of the UPFA contestants told The Island that years of neglect on the part of the UNP leadership had had a devastating impact on the district organisation. He said that President Rajapaksa lost Nuwara Eliya District by 29,000 votes at the recently concluded presidential polls. The President polled 151,604 (43.77 %) votes against Opposition presidential candidate General (retd) Sarath Fonseka’s 180,604 (52. 14%) whereas at the previous presidential election, the President had managed 99,550. The then UNP candidate Ranil Wickremesinghe had received a staggering 250, 428 votes-a lead of 150,870. Minister Dissanayake said that the people of Nuwara Eliya had no reason to exercise their franchise in support of Opposition candidates now that the President had comfortably secured a second term. He expressed confidence that the Central Province would elect UPFA candidates. The UPFA could spur development in a post-LTTE era, he said.

President Rajapaksa won Hanguranketha and Walapone electorates, though he lost Nuwara Eliya-Maskeliya and Kotmale at the January 26 polls. He lost Kotmale by 2,600 votes, though Nuwara Eliya-Maskeliya went to Fonseka with a thumping 50,262 majority.

CWC President Muttu Sivalingam yesterday told The Island that he would not contest the forthcoming parliamentary polls. He said that CWC leader Arumugam Thondaman, attorney-at-law Rajadorai and Radhakrishna, a minister of the Central Provincial Council would be in the fray in Nuwara Eliya. The veteran politician said that he would return to Parliament on the UPFA national list. He expressed confidence that all three contestants would enter Parliament. The CWC will field six more candidates in Badulla (2) and one each in Matale, Kandy, Ratnapura and Colombo. Asked whether they had finalised negotiations with regard to national list slots available to the CWC, he said that talks were continuing. He expressed confidence that the UPFA could do a lot better than at the presidential polls.

Political parties weren’t the only ones negotiating for national list slots, with some individuals joining the fray. Among them was independent presidential candidate Sarath Kongahage, who had played a critical role in the propaganda blitz against the Opposition candidate, General (retd) Sarath Fonseka.

Ministers Ratnayake and Dissanayake said that those who had been critical of their performance at the presidential polls failed to analyse the results with a correct perspective. They said that a section of the analysts had failed to realise the cause of the rapid deterioration of the UNP powerbase in the absence of the CWC muscle.

Former UPFA National List MP and spokesman for the National Freedom Front (NFF), Mohamed Musammil yesterday told The Island that N. D. N. P. Jayasinghe, a member of the last Parliament elected from Nuwara Eliya would join the fray in the neighbouring Kandy electoral district at the April 8 poll. Jayasinghe was among the JVP MPs, who threw their weight behind Wimal Weerawansa, when he quit the party over ideological differences two years ago. Musammil said that a JVP minister of the Central Provincial Council would give up his ministerial portfolio to contest from the Nuwara Eliya district. He acknowledged that the total number of slots allocated to the NFF could be a little less than what was originally requested by the party.

UNP stalwart Renuka Herath emphasised that the UNP-led alliance could win five out of seven seats, though the CWC was no longer with them. But interestingly, Mrs. Herath, who entered Parliament at the last parliamentary election through Nuwara Eliya would contest from the Kandy district. The former minister said that she had moved to the Galagedara electorate to fill the vacancy created by Niranjan Wijetatne’s decision to quit the electorate. She said that former Nuwara Eliya Mayor, Thilaka Herath, a lawyer by profession, would fill her vacancy in Nuwara Eliya. She also pointed out that she took over Galagedara in the wake of S. B. Dissanayake moving to Walapone, though he switched his allegiance to the President in the run-up to the presidential polls.

She stressed the importance of taking all possible measures to ensure a free and fair election. She said that the Opposition was convinced that foreign election monitors should be allowed to be present at counting centres to thwart UPFA plans to engage in what she called mass scale malpractices.

Minister P. Radhakrishnan (UPF), yesterday told The Island that the UPF would contest on its own in Nuwara Eliya and Badula districts, though fielding a candidate each in Colombo and Gampaha on the UPFA list. Radhakrishnan, who had entered parliament on the UNP National List last time, will contest from Colombo while Pushparaj joined the fray in the Gampaha District. He said Shanthinidevi, the wife of their founder leader P. Chandrasekaran would lead their Nuwara Eliya team, whereas Arulsamy, who had filled Chandrasekaran’s vacancy in Parliament following his recent death, wouldn’t receive nominations. The minister said that Arulsamy was no longer a member. In fact, at the time he had succeeded Chandranasekaran, he hadn’t been even a member, though he received recognition as he was next on the Nuwara Eliya list.

He said that they also sought the UPFA’s approval to field a candidate each from Puttalam and Vanni, though no final decision had been taken.

www island.lk

Copyright©Upali Newspapers Limited.

Hosted by


Upali Newspapers Limited, 223, Bloemendhal Road, Colombo 13, Sri Lanka, Tel +940112497500