By Shamindra Ferdinando
The ruling UPFA has comfortably bagged the Sabaragamuwa and North-Central Provinces and secured the highest number of seats in the Eastern Province at Saturday’s PC polls. It obtained 488,174 votes (59.18%) and 28 seats in the Sabaragamuwa Province, 338,552 votes (61,23%) and 21 seats in the North Central and 200,004 votes (31.58%) and 14 seats in the Eastern Province.
Minister Dallas Alahapperuma told The Island last night that the UPFA was confident of forming an administration in the Eastern Province as the party that had won the council and no one should have any doubts about it.
The UNP obtained 286,857 (34.73%) votes and 14 seats in the Sabaragamuwa Province, 196,127 (35.47%) votes and 11 seats in the North-Central Province and 74.901 (11.82%) votes and four seats in the Eastern Province. The ITAK (or TNA) secured 193,827 (30.59%) votes and 11 seats in the Eastern Province while the SLMC obtained 132,917 (20.98%) votes and seven seats in the Eastern Province.
The JVP has lost both seats it had in the previous Sabaragamuwa PC, but retained the single seat it had in the NCP. Minister Wimal Weerawansa’s National Freedom Front has sprung a surprise in the East by winning a seat.
Minister Alahapperuma said that the result of Sabaragamuwa and North Central Provinces had been a foregone conclusion. The UNP never posed a serious threat in those provinces, whereas the JVP was no longer a politically viable force. The JVP was irrelevant, the SLFP strategist said, adding that the UPFA’s victory in the Eastern Province was significant as it contested on its own. The MP said that President Mahinda Rajapaksa’s role in the campaign, at the last phase, made a significant difference and helped the party to regain the province. The first PC poll for the newly created Eastern PC was won by the UPFA in May 2008, less than a year after the liberation of the province.
The UPFA won all electorates in the North Central and Sabaragamuwa Provinces at Saturday’s polls. It also secured the Kalkudah electorate in the Batticaloa District, Seruwila in the Trincomalee district and Ampara in the Digamadulla electorate.
Although the UPFA failed to secure the Trincomalee and Batticaloa districts, its performance in the Digamadulla electoral district helped it to win the Eastern Province. The UPFA polled 200,044 votes to win 14 seats and the TNA 193,827 to secure 11 seats in the Eastern PC. The SLMC obtained 132,917 votes to secure seven seats. The UNP ended a distant fourth polling 74,901 votes and obtaining four seats, whereas the UPFA constituent, the National Freedom Front (NFF) polled 9,522 votes to secure one seat. Interestingly, the breakaway JVP faction won its solitary seat in the council, though it contested only the Trincomalee district. The NFF didn’t contest in Batticaloa, while it placed one candidate on the UPFA ticket in the Digamadulla electoral district.
Minister Wimal Weerawansa yesterday told The Island said that the NFF would never have contested on its own if the UPFA accommodated Wijesekera on its Trincomalee District list. The MP insisted that the NFF didn’t undermine the UPFA campaign in Trincomalee.
The UNP campaign in the Eastern Province was led by its National Organiser, Daya Gamage, a former Opposition Leader of the Eastern PC.
The Socialist Alliance (SA), comprising three other UPFA constituents, Communist Party of Sri Lanka (CPSL), Lanka Sama Samaja Party (LSSP) and the Democratic Left Front, failed in its bid to make an impression in the East, though it contested all three districts. The SA led by Ministers, Dew Gunasekera (CPSL), Prof. Tissa Vitharana (LSSP) and Vasudeva Nanayakkara (DLF) strongly criticised the SLFP, in the run-up to the Sept 8 poll, for not giving it an opportunity to field candidates on the UPFA ticket.
The SA contested under the Lamp symbol which once belonged to the late Vijaya Kumaratunga’s party.
Minister Dallas Alahapperuma told The Island that the result of Sabaragamuwa and North Central Provinces had been a foregone conclusion. The UNP never posed a serious threat in those provinces, whereas the JVP was no longer a politically viable force. The JVP was irrelevant, the SLFP strategist said, adding that the UPFA’s victory in the Eastern Province was significant as it contested on its own. The MP said that President Mahinda Rajapaksa’s role in the campaign, at the last phase, made a significant difference and helped the party to regain the province. The first PC poll for the newly created Eastern PC was won by the UPFA in May 2008, less than a year after the liberation of the province.
UPFA General Secretary Susil Premjayanth said that the victory in the Eastern Province couldn’t have come at a better time for the UPFA as several hundred Commonwealth delegates were in Colombo for the first truly international gathering since the conclusion of the conflict in May 2009.
The JVP suffered another setback in the Sabaragamuwa Province, where it failed to retain two seats in that council, too. Mano Ganeshan yesterday told The Island that two of the candidates, who contested on the CWC ticket, another UPFA constituent, were elected to the Sabaragamuwa PC. “We won one seat each in the Ratnapura and Kegalle districts,” he said, adding that their strategy to secure Tamil representation in the Sabaragamuwa PC was successful. Responding to a query, he said that the election was conducted under relatively peaceful conditions, though there were some violations. Ganeshan said that it was too early to comment on the Eastern PC election.
The JVP managed to retain its seat in the North Central Province, but lost the two seats it had in the Sabaragamuwa PC.
SLFP General Secretary Maithripala Sirisena, MP, pointed out that the vast majority of people in the drought-hit Eastern and North-Central Provinces had reaffirmed their support for the UPFA. The UNP and the JVP believed that the drought could benefit them, the minister said, adding that President Rajapaksa had not only been able to sustain his popularity but even increase it since his victory at the Nov. 2005 presidential poll.