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Government Gazette

Presidential election:

Vote for development, democracy

President Rajapaksa who gave the political leadership and the forces who valiantly fought the war turned that situation of hopelessness and despair into one of hope and expectation

On January 26 millions of eligible voters will walk into that tiny little cubicle placed in different parts of the country to indicate their choice as to who should be the President of this country for the next six years. As things stands today it is obviously a choice between two people. Mahinda Rajapaksa the incumbent President and the former Army Commander Sarath Fonseka.

Democratic process

Casting vote File photo

Kumar Abeysinghe

It is a choice between a person who believed in the ballot throughout his political career, and on the other hand, a person who believed in the bullet throughout his military career. On the other hand it is a choice between a person who believed, though tedious, in the democratic process in settling matters, resolving issues, which involves consultation, compromise, consensus and on the other hand, a person who believed in the dictum of ‘comply and complain.’ So the people will have to make the choice carefully.

Others in the arena may be just proxies for some others or may be coming forward for personal gains or recognition. In a country where the people are status conscious it is a great thing for some one to say that he was a Presidential candidate no matter the number of votes he gets.

As far as the country is concerned the issues at stake are many and complex in nature which has a great bearing on its future. Therefore, it is my view the choice that the people will have to make at this Presidential election is crucial and eventually decide the fate of the nation. The people will have to decide which direction the country should move. Development, Democracy, National integration, Unitary nature of the country etc. it was not long ago that we had a sigh of relief, that the country was able to overcome one of the most dreaded, miserable, devastating war which bled the country for more than three decades. People were jubilant.

We cannot forget the fact that there was a time that none of us had any hope for this country. But the victory of war turned that situation overnight. President Rajapaksa who gave the political leadership and the forces who valiantly fought the war turned that situation of hopelessness and despair into one of hope and expectation. It was the single most important promise the President made through his Mahinda Chinthana policy which he fulfilled within a short period of four years.

Humanitarian operation

Mahinda Rajapaksa was under tremendous pressure from the international community with vested interest. The LTTE activists, Tamil Diaspora, until they saw the dead body of Prabhakaran made every effort to stop the humanitarian operation which Rajapaksa relentlessly pursued to emancipate the innocent Tamil people who suffered for nearly three decades under the despotic rule of Prabhakaran. But Mahinda Rajapaksa did not yield to any of those pressures.

Even political stalwarts like President Jayewardene, President Premadasa could not resist the international pressure and they gave up their military operation on the verge of victory. If not this LTTE menace would have been eradicated a long time ago.

With the turn of events, people started talking about newly won freedom. A better future for the country. “Now we can get about without fear of getting caught to a bomb blast. No longer we have to wait anxiously to see that our kith and kin return home after their day’s work.” That was what the people were talking about. But suddenly that mood has changed.

The situation changed so fast it took not more than a few weeks to turn that euphoria once gain into anxiety, uncertainty and intrigue. Amidst the turn of events one could see strange developments in the political scene. Arch Political rivals forming coalitions confirming the fact that in politics there are no permanent enemies or permanent friends.’ Parties with diametrically opposing political philosophies’ views and interest forming common fronts.

Crossovers, betrayals, conspiracies, mud slinging, character assassinations have become the order of the day. Pledges, promises are so much in abundance, people are confused, perplexed and are unable to comprehend the real issues and the undercurrents of the real politics. The looming threat to the nation is covered with a thick curtain of promises, pledges though attractive unrealistic in delivering.

It appears that the Opposition common front is hell bent on unseating Mahinda Rajapaksa from the Presidency. For what reason? The fabricated reasons are to rid corruption, nepotism, family bandism, lessen Cost of Living, restoration of democracy and media freedom etc.

Political slogans

Aren’t they hackneyed political slogans the electors are familiar with from the inception of the electoral process? The promises that the Opposition common candidate is making are the very same promises that the parties who are backing him failed to fulfill when they were in power.

Probably Fonseka being a new comer to politics is ignorant of these things or may be that he is having a different agenda in his mind which no body knows. To mention a few it was not too long ago that the Supreme Court passed judgment against the former President who is now active behind the Opposition campaign to oust Mahinda Rajapaksa.

People are not short of memory to forget many a corruption charges levelled against certain people who now have become the vociferous spokesmen from the Sarath Fonseka/JVP/UNP platform against corruption. People are also alive to the fact that the majority of the people who were accused by the COPE report are today’s flag bearers of the Opposition political platform supporting Sarath Fonseka.

Today Sarath Fonseka himself is accused of corruption involving his family members. May be these are good talking points for the ‘night clubbing’, ‘Whisky sipping’ cocktail circles in Colombo and suburbs. But for the rural folk who have placed unwavering trust on Mahinda what matters is the unprecedented development that is taking place in the rural areas which is affecting every aspect of their lives.

One should move out of Colombo to see what is happening. Seeing is believing. The writer was amazed to see the transformation that is taking place in an around the port city of Hambantota. Being a person who started the public service career in the ‘Magampatthuwa’ as far back in 1970 in the Hambantota district as a DRO it was something that I never envisaged to happen during my lifetime.

Even Mahinda Rajapaksa who entered politics during the same period from ‘Giruwapattuwa’ in Hambantota as a young MP wouldn’t have dreamt of doing what he is doing now. But it is happening. May be that he is destine to do that. You go to the Hill country and enter from the Hatton side to Nuwara Eliya. You can see the massive development that is taking place in the Upper Kotmale area. You come down and enter the Kandy District you see the massive road development work that is taking place form Kandy to Mahiyangana.

Road development

Go to Puttalam you see the road development that is taking place connecting Puttalam to Anuradhapura. ‘Kerawalapitiya’ Norochcholai Colombo-Matara express highway, Colombo Katunayake highway projects which were abandoned many a times due to various pressures have taken off the ground.

It is no different in the NCP, Eastern and the Northern Provinces. The bridges, and the roads that are being built connecting the North and the South, will relieve major communities from economic, social and cultural isolation and usher them in to an era of mutual trust and understanding. You go to Polonnaruwa and take a drive on the newly built Polonnaruwa Batticaloa Road. You will enjoy the pleasure of driving. What you see all over - the country is the reawakening of the Land of Opportunity, the resplendent island called Sri Lanka.

Income distribution

An evenly distributed development program which is the main thrust of Mahinda Chinthana is really unfolding. It is unfolding before our own eyes. Eventually it will help to mitigate the widespread inequalities in income distribution in different regions and eliminate deep-rooted poverty in these areas which was the main concern of all of us. So who wants to oust Mahinda Rajapaksa? Not the majority of the masses who have repeatedly expressed their gratitude to him for what he has done and for what he is doing.

It is the hypocrites, people with short memories, anarchists who thrive on chaos, the bankrupt politicians who had been repeatedly rejected by the people, more importantly the proxies of the LTTE who are now engaged in a cold war with the backing of a certain section of the international community to resuscitate Prabhakaran’s dream to whom Mahinda is an irritant. Will the people who love this country allow these conspirators to fulfill their wish? No certainly not.



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