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2010 General Election: JVP/DNA
won’t recover from ‘Kurunegala shock’

Government sources say an attempt by the JVP to exploit the arrest of former Army Commander Gen. (retd) Sarath Fonseka over conspiracy charges, to help its parliamentary election campaign in the Kurunegala electoral district, home to the largest concentration of security forces personnel and their families, has failed.

Sources say former JVP MP from Kurunegala, Bimal Ratnayake boasted in the run-up to the April 8 election that they can secure at least two seats in Kurunegala. The JVP, which contested on the DNA

(Democratic National Alliance) ticket failed to retain at least one of the three seats it had secured from Kurunegala at the April 2004 general election. At one time, some speculated that Defence Secretary Gotabhaya Rajapaksa would enter the fray from Kurunegela to take advantage of the ‘pro-war’ vote in Kurunegala.

Sources said the JVP failed to impress in any of the districts, which had provided manpower to security forces right throughout the war against the LTTE. Sources said that the people of Anuradhapura and Polonnaruwa, too, rejected the JVP and its campaign, which portrayed Fonseka as the savior, who had earned the wrath of the Rajapaksas. Sources said that a substantial number of men and women joined the armed forces and police from Anuradhapura and Polonnaruwa.

SLFP sources said that the JVP wooed security forces and their families, promising that only the JVP/DNA alliance could release Fonseka from detention. Sources pointed out that they went to the extent of carrying a letter allegedly written by Fonseka urging people to exercise their franchise in support of the alliance to end the Rajapaksas’ dictatorial regime.

Responding to a query by The Island, an authoritative government official said the armed forces, police and Civil Defence Force (CDF) had recruited over 200,000 personnel, the vast majority of them to the Army. Had the electorate believed the JVP was genuine, it could have attracted a large number of voters at the April 8 election, sources said. Fortunately, the people felt that the JVP was trying to take advantage of the situation and exploit the Fonseka factor to elect several members.

The JVP/DNA won only five seats in 20 electoral districts, including Fonseka and Ranatunga, who managed less than 30,000 preferential votes in Kalutara. Except for the seat won in Galle, the remaining four were elected from the Western Province, where the number of security forces personnel and their families were relatively low, when compared with other provinces, excluding the North and East.

Sources said former UNP MP Johnston Fernando, who had helped the government to expose Fonseka’s clandestine relationship with the Opposition, polled the highest number of preferential votes from Kurunegala, whereas those who vowed to save Fonseka did not make it to Parliament.

Sources emphasized that the Fonseka factor was no longer a political issue. Sources pointed out that the JVP/DNA fared poorly in the postal vote in districts, where the presence of security forces families was strong.

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