General Election 2010: Left Parties can re-emerge a major force
A 2/3 majority possible says UPFA, Opposition says ‘No’
Communist Party leader Dew Gunasekera told The Island that the majority of their candidates could secure parliamentary seats despite a low key campaign.

The left parties are confident that they could re-emerge as a major force in Parliament at the April 8 General Election. Contrary to assertion by a section of the ruling coalition, the left parties could comfortably overtake both the National Freedom Front (NFF) and the Jathika Hela Urumaya (JHU).

Communist Party leader Dew Gunasekera told The Island that the majority of their candidates could secure parliamentary seats despite a low key campaign.

According to an agreement worked out with the SLFP, six CP nominees are in the fray in Anuradhapura, Nuwara, Colombo, Galle, Matara and Hambantota Districts. The LSSP nominees are contesting in five districts, namely, Kalutara, Kegalle, Galle, Moneragala and Polonnaruwa. Both parties have fielded candidates in Galle. Ven. Baddegama Samitha (LSSP) and Chandrasiri Gajadeera (CP) are likely to be among the winners.

Gunasekera said that in addition to th eleven candidates fielded by the CP and the LSSP, the Left party alliance includes Vasudeva Nanayakkara (Ratnapura) and Ranjith Navaratne (Kurunegala). Responding to a query by The Island, he said that the Left Party  Alliance supported the candidature of MEP leader Dinesh Gunawardene (Colombo) and another MEP nominee, Sisira Jayakody (Gampaha).

Gunasekera and Tissa Vitharana are National List nominees for the CP and LSSP.

In the run-up to the General Election, Gunasekera urged the electorate to defeat the corrupt and political goons to ensure the next Parliament would be a better place. He said that the country was ready for a major change in the political scene. He expressed confidence that the next cabinet would reflect the re-alignment of political forces.

The NFF is in the fray in Colombo, Gampaha (two candidates), Kalutara, Matara, Hambantota, Moneragala, Kegalle, Matale, Mahanuwara, Nuwara Eliya, Anuradhapura, Polonnaruwa, Kurunegala, Puttalam and Ratnapura. Although NFF leader Wimal Weerawansa is widely expected to poll the highest number of preferential votes in Colombo, his nominees are unlikely to fare impressively, though being in the limelight. NFF sources acknowledged that they faced a tough fight.

The MEP (5 nominees), JHU (5) and CWC (9) are also contesting on the UPFA ticket. The CWC contested the last General Election on the UNP ticket but switched its allegiance to President Mahinda Rajapaksa.

Political sources said that two of the biggest losers at today’s election would be the JVP and the JHU, which had 39 and 9 seats at the last election, respectively.

Minister Gunasekera said that the JVP could manage perhaps two or three sets, including one National List slot. According to him, a section of the voters, who had exercised their franchise in support of the JHU at the last election, was likely to support the JVP-led Democratic National Alliance (DNA). He said that many former JHU supporters blamed the UNP for the break-up of the joint Opposition alliance, which backed Gen. (retd) Sarath Fonseka at the recently concluded presidential election.

Minister Gunasekera said that the Tamil National Alliance (TNA), which secured 22 seats at the last General Election, could not expect a repeat performance at the 2010 poll. Tamil political sours told The Island that the TNA could be reduced to less than 15 seats, though its leader R. Sampanthan and a section of the UNP believed a repeat performance was possible. Sources said that a split in the TNA following the January 26 presidential election with a section throwing its weight behind the UPFA had weakened the party. Another reason for concern among the TNA camp was former TNA heavyweight M. K. Sivajilingham fielding separate lists for Jaffna and Vanni electorates.

Sources said that perhaps the most important political issue at hand was whether two dozen UNP MPs, who had switched their allegiance to the UPFA after the last election could survive today’s poll. UNP MP Dayasiri Jayasekera told The Island that the UNP electorate would reject them, though they believed they could retain their seats. Except M. H. Mohamed and Dharmadasa Banda, all other UNP rebels are contesting as SLFP electoral organisers. The MP said that the government could not take a commanding position in Parliament, though it repeatedly boasted of a two-thirds majority.

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