"Where’s the security despite huge expenditure?’’ asks UNP



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By Shamindra Ferdinando


The UNP yesterday alleged that an unprecedented security operation implemented at the taxpayers’ expense has failed to ensure an incident free PC polls in North Central, Sabaragamuwa and Eastern Provinces.


The main Opposition party said that the situation was deteriorating in the provinces, though the Election Secretariat and the police recently boasted of a security operation at a cost of Rs 108 mn to maintain law and order.


UNP Kalutara District MP Ajith Pathmakumara Perera yesterday told The Sunday Island that Thursday night’s attack on Dr. Chamila Hearth in Anuradhapura proved that the so-called operation was nothing but a joke. He said that the law enforcement authorities were helpless and couldn’t do anything to control unruly ruling party politicians and their supporters.


Responding to a query, the MP said that the Election Secretariat and the police should explain how they intended to spend Rs. 108 mn, particularly in the backdrop of chaos in the provinces.


Elections Commissioner Mahinda Deshapriya is on record as having said that the Sept. 8 poll would cost the taxpayer about Rs. 600 mn.


Doctors attached to the Anuradhapura Teaching Hospital launched a lightning strike from 8.00 a.m. to 4.00 p.m. on Friday in protest against the attack by UPFA supporters.


The attack took place at midnight on Thursday at Dahayyagama junction during a meeting near an election propaganda office of former NCP Chief Minister Berty Premalal Dissanayaka, currently in the PC polls fray.The Government Medical Officers’ Association (GMOA) on Friday warned that the government would have to face the consequences unless action was taken against the attackers and their political masters.


Dr. Herath was immediately admitted to the Anuradhapura hospital and later, on the advice of the Consultants, he was transferred to the Neuro-surgical Intensive Care Unit.


 MP Pathmakumara Perera said that the attack on Dr. Herath was an indication that the top SLFP leadership had lost control of the situation.


"Prominent UPFA candidates are waging war in the provinces. Those who attacked Dr. Herath probably felt that he was opposed to a particular leading candidate contesting the Anuradhapura district. People should realize UPFA goons will step up violence in the run-up to the poll as part of their strategy to drive away supporters of opposing candidates of the same party as well as the Opposition."


 


The MP said that the police couldn’t ensure a peaceful environment even if the Election Secretariat made available Rs. 1,000 mn for perhaps Sri Lanka’s most expensive security operation conducted at election time.


 


According to him, all professional organizations should launch a joint campaign against political violence.


 


Commenting on live television show ‘Janapathijanahamuwa’ , the MP pointed out that the Election Secretariat did nothing to stop state-run television stations as well as those owned by the private sector from blatantly campaigning for the ruling coalition. Nothing was as foolish as the assertion that a level playing field could be created in the provinces by hiring labourers to remove propaganda material at taxpayers’ expense, he said.


The Election Secretariat has allocated Rs. 7.4 mn to deploy labourers under the supervision of the police to remove posters, banners and cut-outs, he said.


Elections couldn’t be won by propaganda alone, he said, expressing confidence that the ongoing crisis in the education sector alone could jeopardize the UPFA chances of regaining the three provinces.


 


Responding to another question, the MP said that SLFP leaders hadn’t read the much talked about Lessons Leant and Reconciliation Commission’s recommendations, though they discuss the issue always.


The LLRC pointed out that the killing of presidential advisor, former MP Bharatha Lakshman Premachandra at the last local government polls on Oct. 8, could have been avoided if tangible action was taken to disarm ruling party politicians, he said.


"Obviously, government leaders are turning a blind eye to crisis in the provinces. Prominent UPFA candidates are fighting among themselves. In the North Central Province there is a simmering battle for the post of Chief Minister. The situation is the same in Sabaragamuwa, whereas the East remains volatile due to recurring incidents involving two ministers."


 


The UNPer urged the media to report the truth and not to be influenced by other factors. The media shouldn’t play politics at the expense of those who were struggling to make ends meet, though UPFA talked as there couldn’t be any other issue since the conclusion of the conflict in May 2009.


 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
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