Historic win for UPFA
JVP suffers crushing defeat

President Mahinda Rajapaksa, who spearheaded the UPFA campaign, secured an overwhelming mandate at the April 8 General Election, whereas the UNP-led United National Front (UNF) and its erstwhile ally, the JVP, suffered a humiliating defeat.

The President pledged that a victory for the UPFA would give a turbo-boost to development efforts in the wake of armed forces’ triumph over the LTTE. The JVP turned the election into a referendum on the arrest of former Army Commander, Gen. (retd) Sarath Fonseka on conspiracy charges. Both said that their victory would help secure the release of Fonseka.

The UPFA comprised the SLFP, CP, LSSP, CWC, NFF, EPDP, Upcountry People’s Front and MEP and a few smaller parties not represented in Parliament. Some dissidents of the TNA, too, threw their weight behind the ruling coalition. The UNF included the SLMC, whereas the JVP went it alone.

At the last election in April 2004, the JVP, which contested on the UPFA ticket, won 39 seats, including three National List slots, though a section subsequently switched its allegiance to President Rajapaksa.

The relatively peaceful election was marred by incidents in the Nawalapitiya and Trincomalee electorates, which prompted the Election Secretariat to suspend the release of results of the two electorates. Government sources said that supporters of government ministers had been accused of causing mayhem on the day of the election in both electorates. The Election Secretariat said that the results of the Nawalapitiya and Trincomalee Districts would not be released until a re-poll was conducted within the next two weeks. A senior spokesman said that the final district results of Mahanuwara and Trincomalee Districts as well as the overall results, too, could not be released for the time being. According to him, this would prevent political parties from naming their National List members.

Of the 22 electoral districts, the Election Secretariat released results of 20 districts pending the release of Mahanuwara and Trincomalee districts results. The government emerged the clear winner by raking in 117 seats against 46 obtained by the UNP. The TNA and the DNA secured 12 and 5, respectively. Four MPs will be elected from Trincomalee and 12 from Mahanuwara. In addition to the 196 elected members, 29 will be appointed from the National List.

Parliament, which was earlier scheduled to meet on April 22, may not be able to reconvene for the new session on that day due to mayhem caused by UPFA politicians.

The ruling SLFP-led coalition secured the Hambantota electoral District by polling 174,808 votes and winning 5 seats, while the UNP obtained 83,027 and secured 2 seats. The JVP-led Democratic National Alliance (DNA) came a distant third with 19,186 votes. Former JVP MPs Nihal Galapatthi and Nihal Jayaweera failed in their bid to retain their seats. At the last election, the UNP secured two seats, whereas the UPFA had five, including the two seats won by the JVP. Namal Rajapaksa topped the preferential votes with a staggering 147, 566 votes. Sajith Premadasa polled 74,467 to lead the UNP list.

The UPFA secured the Matara electorate comfortably in a one-sided contest leaving the DNA without a seat. The ruling party secured six out of eight seats by polling 213,937 votes, while the UNP won the remaining two. The UNP and DNA polled 91,114 and 20,465 votes, respectively. Former National Cricket Captain Sanath Jayasuriya polled 74,352 to beat several veteran politicians and came first. National Freedom Front (NFF) leader Wimal Weerawansa’s brother, Sarath, who contested from Matara on the UPFA ticket, failed to be returned. Southern Province Opposition Leader Buddhika Pathirana and Mangala Samaraweera secured first and second slots in Matara respectively. Political sources alleged that an attempt had been made to deceive the Matara electorate by giving two or three different numbers as Pathirana’s preferential vote. Sources said that the Pathirana’s camp had acted swiftly to alert the people to the ‘sinister’ move.

At the last election, the UPFA won five seats. Among them were two JVP nominees, Jinadasa Kitulegoda and Premasiri Manage. The UNP won three seats, though two of them later switched their allegiance to President Rajapaksa, leaving Sagala Ratnayake the solitary UNP representative in Matara. The then UPFA candidate Mangala Samaraweera, who topped the preferential vote at the last election, contested the 2010 General Election on the UNP ticket.

The UPFA bagged the Moneragala electorate by securing four seats against the UNP’s one. The UPFA polled a formidable 120,634 votes, while the UNP and DNA received 28,892 and 9,018 votes, respectively. The DNA suffered a humiliating defeat. At the last election, the UNP won two out of five seats. The UPFA secured the rest.

The Opposition suffered a debilitating loss in the Badulla District, where the UPFA polled 203,689 votes to secure six seats. The UNP managed to secure two. The UNP and the DNA polled 112,886 and 15,768 votes respectively. At the last election, the UNP and UPFA shared the eight seats, with the latter taking three, including one secured by the JVP.

UNP sources told The Island that a damaging row over the alleged alteration of the Moneragala nomination list by UNP District leader Ranjith Manduma Bandara contributed to the heavy defeat. The UPFA obtained a staggering percentage of 75.64 per cent against the UNP’s 18.12 per cent. Interestingly, Bandara was the only successful UNP candidate, though UNP leader Ranil Wickremesinghe publicly denounced him.

One of the major shocks at Thursday’s election was the unexpected defeat suffered by Galle District UNP leader Vajira Abeywardena, who failed to retain his seat. Of the ten seats in the electoral district, the UPFA won seven with Nishantha Muttuhettigama topping the list, while the UNP had to be satisfied with two seats. UNP rebel Lionel Premasiri, who contested on the UPFA ticket lost his re-election bid. Former JVP MP G. H. Ajith Kumara, who contested on the DNA ticket, won a place in the Galle list, though his colleagues Chandrasena Wijesinghe and Thilakaratne Withanachchi failed in their re-election bid.

Actress Geetha Kumarasinghe one of the surprise nominees of the UPFA lost her bid despite a high profile campaign.

Minister Piyasena Gamage, who led the UPFA in Galle was pushed to fourth position with a lowly 66,301 preferential votes. Former SLFP stalwart Richard Pathirana’s son, Dr. Ramesh came second to Muttuhettigama with 90,317 preferential votes and Deputy Minister Gunaratne Weerakoon third. Sachin Vas Gunawardena was among the winners.

The UPFA secured the Matale electoral district by polling 131,069 votes against UN P’s 55,737. The UPFA won four seats and the UNP ended up with one, though it had two seats at the last election. Former JVP MP Sujatha Alahakoon, who contested on the DNA ticket failed to retain her seat. The DNA polled a poor 7,636 votes in Matale.

The UPFA scored a stunning victory in Kurunegala by polling a staggering 429,316 to win ten seats. The UNP took the remaining five seats. The JVP, which contested Kurunegala at the last election, won three slots. But this time around, JVP nominees, Bimal Ratnayake and Namal Karunaratne, who contested on DNA ticket failed to be returned. Anura Kumara Dissanayake, former Kurunegala district MP is on the DNA National List. The UNP and the DNA polled 213,713 and 26,440 votes in Kurunegala respectively. At the last election, the UFPA/JVP combine won nine seats against UNP’s seven, though three of them switched their allegiance to President Rajapaksa.

In Ratnapura, too, the UNP and DNA experienced a humiliating defeat, with the UPFA polling an impressive 305,327 votes to win seven seats. The UNP managed to take the remaining three seats. The UNP and DNA obtained 125,076 and 11,053 votes.

The UPFA and UNP shared nine seats in Kegalle, with the former taking seven. The UPFA, UNP and DNA polled 242,463, 104925 and 13,518, respectively. Former Sri Lankan top sprinter Susanthika Jayasinghe, who contested on the UPFA ticket ran out.

Of the ten seat-Katutara electoral district, the UPFA secured seven, UNP two and the remaining seat to DNA’s Arjuna Ranatunga, the second National Cricket Captain to enter parliament at the 2010 General Election.

The UPFA scored an impressive victory in Gampaha by securing 12 seats against the UNP’s 5. The DNA managed to get just one seat, though it campaigned heavily in Gampaha to pressure the government over the detention of defeated presidential election candidate, Gen. (retd) Sarath Fonseka. The UPFA polled 589,476, while the UNP and DNA managed 266,523 and 69,747 votes respectively.

Three JVP heavyweights, Lal Kantha, Wasantha Samarasinghe and Ranaweera Pathirana lost their re-election bid. They contested from Anuradhapura on the DNA ticket. The UPFA polled 221,204 to secure seven seats. The UNP managed two.

The UPFA also gained six seats in Puttalam by polling 167,769. The UNP polled 81,152 to secure the remaining two seats.

The UPFA secured four seats against the UNP’s two in the Digamadulla electorate. The Tamil National alliance won one seat.

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