Eastern Province seeks formula for administration
Though one week has already passed since the elections for the
Eastern, North Central and the Sabaragamauwa Provincial Councils
registering yet another electoral victory for the UPFA led government of
President Mahinda Rajapaksa, the elections reigns the main topic in the
media as the formation of the Eastern Provincial Council still under
discussion among the political parties.
As predicted by many analysts, the Eastern Provincial Council
election turned out as the most ethnic and politically sensitive
election since no political party could win an absolute majority in the
East despite the UPFA securing the highest number of seats in the
Council with 14 seats under their fold.
As UPFA making their efforts, the Ilankai Tamil Arasu Kadchi which
has secured 11 seats in Eastern Provincial Council also making some
efforts to establish their own administration by securing the support of
the Sri Lanka Muslim Congress. Therefore, the SLMC with their seven
seats has become the most influential and decisive factor either to
support the UPFA or the ITAK to set up the administration the Eastern
Under these circumstances the Eastern Provincial Council has become a
testing ground for political competency and maturity of any political
party in their effort to establish an administration with an absolute
majority and run the administration without any disruption. The only
party which has the moral right of establishing the provincial
administration is the UPFA as they have secured the highest number of
If the SLMC, which is already a partner of central government,
supports the UPFA to establish the provincial administration it will be
an ideal combination as it would create an absolute majority with 21
seats in the 37 Member council. Then there is no possibility for the
Opposition which comprised the ITAK (11 seats) and the United National
Party (4 seats) to disrupt the administration.
According to political sources, the support of SLMC to the UPFA will
come at a high cost with a bundle of demands in the form of positions
both in the Provincial Council and in the Central government as well, as
they have a crucial number of seats at hand to bargain with any
However, another discussion is now emerging to form an all party
administration in the Eastern Provincial Council after the idea was
mooted by Minister D.E. W. Gunasekara and it was discussed among the
parties. That would be the most welcome solution as the Eastern province
should be administered by all three communities together if the outcome
of the ongoing political negotiation reach a dead end. But it appears
that Minister Rauf Hakeem is more lenient towards the UPFA rather than
joining hand with ITAK to form the administration the Eastern PC.
Whatever the outcome of the ongoing discussion and whoever becomes
the Chief Minister in the Eastern province one clear factor emanating
from the Eastern Provincial Council election is that the people in the
East have endorsed the development drive carried out by the Government
since the liberation of the Eastern province in the middle of 2007 and
the accelerated development drive it carried out after May 2009.
But at the same time the Tamil and Muslim communities seems to be
distancing from the mainstream political parties and trying to increase
their bargaining power in the arena of politics. Even this has been
apparent in the Sabaragamuwa Provincial Council also as Ceylon Workers
Congress also obtained two seats in the Sabaragamuwa Provincial Council.
The poor performance of the United National Party in the Eastern
province was one of the highlighting factors in the election as the
number of seats in the Council has reduced to four at this election. UNP
failed to secure at least one seat in the Batticaloa district and came
fifth in the district obtaining less than two percent of votes in the
district. It is also suffering heavily as the minority voters are
distancing from them also.
At the previous Provincial Council election the UNP contested along
with the Sri Lanka Muslim Congress and secured 15 seats in the Council
and they secured six seats in the Ampara district alone. This time the
number of seats they could secure in the Ampara district has been
reduced to three even at a time its national organiser and the chief
Ministerial candidate Daya Gamage contesting from the district.
This is the first time that the ITAK contested the Eastern Provincial
Council election after their boycott of the 2008 Eastern Provincial
Council election. They were able to secure the highest number of votes
in the Trincomalee district due to the split of votes of the UPFA with
National Freedom Front contesting independently in the district, and
securing 9,522 votes.
Jayantha Wijesekara was the only Member who could get elected under
NFF list and there was possibility of increasing another one seat to the
UPFA if the NFF also contested together with the UPFA in Trincomalee.
Apparently the NFF has absorbed the JVP vote base in Trincomalee under
Sivanesathurai Chandrakanthan alias Pillaiyan the former Chief
Minister of the Eastern Province was the only candidate out of the 11
candidates fielded by the Tamil Makkal Viduthalai Pulikal under UPFA
banner. The former Chief Minister amidst stiff resistance from the ITAK
won the most number of preferential votes in the Batticaloa district.
Even, Rudramalar Gnanabaskaran, the sister of Deputy Minister
Vinayagamoorthi Muralitharan coulf not make her way to the Council.
Therefore, the decision on the Chief Ministerial post of the Eastern
province will be definitely taken considering a person whose party
represent highest number of votes in the Council apart from the number
of preferential votes they obtained.
The ITAK or the TNA might be wasting the popular vote they obtained
from the Eastern PC election if they do not affiliate with a political
party to form the administration and do something constructive for their
people in the province deviating from the present policies. Now they
have the free hand to decide themselves what to do for the benefit of
the Tamil community as the LTTE is no longer present in the country.
Therefore they can easily join hands with the Government and give their
blessings for the development drive in the East rather than engage in
protest based politics in the East.
The other hot spot of the election was reported from the Anuradhapura
district in the North Central Provincial Council as the topic of the
Chief Ministers post still remains a controversy. Berty Premalal
Dissanayaka who maintained his popularity in the Anuradhapura district
for the past two decades came second in the UPFA preferential votes list
obtaining 95,027 preferential votes. S.M. Ranjith, the brother of
Minister S.M. Chandrasena, became first in the preferential votes in the
Anuradhapura UPFA list with 105,232 votes. He was the one who secured
the highest number of preferential votes out from the all three
Provincial Councils. At the past PC election Berty Premalal Dissanyake
obtained 105,866 votes.
However, the one and only death reported in the PC election was
reported in the post election scenario as a result of intra party
violence reported in the Anuradhapura district prior to the elections
date. Therefore, it has become a difficult factor for the UPFA to
appoint a Chief Minister based on the preferential votes. However,
President Mahinda Rajapaksa will name the Chief Minister probably today
considering all the factors the UPFA is confronting at present.
The total number of seats in the North Central Provincial Council has
increased from 20 to 21 compared to the 2008 Provincial Council election
which was held prior to completion of the humanitarian operation. There
was a small shift in the vote base of the UPFA due to the low voter
turnout reported in some areas.
The number of seats of the UNP has reduced from 12 to 11 while JVP
has been able to protect its one seat in the NCP.
There had been no change in the number of seats in the Polonnaruwa
district despite the percentage of votes obtained by the UPFA showing a
When North Central Province Chief Minister suffered a set back in the
preferential votes the former Chief Minister of the Sabaragamuwa
Provincial Council, Maheepala Herath was able to maintain his position
as the person who received the highest preferential votes in the
Sabaragamuwa province. He obtained 84,223 preferential votes from the
It was Kanchana Jayaratne the husband of Minister Pavithra
Vanniarachchi who obtained the highest number of preferential votes from
the Rathnapura district. He had secured 64,608 preferences.
The best performance of the UPFA came from the Sabaragamuwa province
as the number of the seats obtained by the UPFA increased from 25 to 28
compared to the previous Provincial Council election. The number of UNP
seats in the Council has been reduced to 14 from the 17 seats they had
in the earlier council.
The JVP failed to secure even one seat in the Council, losing their
representation in the council since its formation in 1988. In the
Sabaragamuwa PC there has been a lot of changes in the faces of the
Provincial Council as 13 new members have been elected to the Council
while 14 former councillors lost their seats.
Many new faces from the families with political background in the
province has made their entry to the Provincial Council this time.
Chamila Dissanayaka, the son of Deputy Minister Lalith Dissanayaka,,
Taraka Balasuriya, the son of Minister Prof. Jagath Balasuriya and
Governor Kumari Balasuriya, Wathsala Pathamsiri daughter of the MP Y.D
Pathmasiri are among the new Councillors elected from the Kegalle
district UPFA list.
Apart from that. Prabhath Mahesh de Alwis the son-in-law of Minister
W.D.J. Seneviratne, Jayatissa Ranaweera the father of former Councillor
Ravindra Jayatissa, and Deepal Gunasekara, Akila Ellawala son of former
Chief Minister Mohan Ellawala are among the new faces from the UPFA
Rathnapura district list.
Wijayaya Kumarana Withanage, Ranjith Pallepola and Sandith
Samarasinghe are the novices from the UNP to the Sabaragamuwa PC. Apart
from that Annamalai Baskaran, representing the Ceylon Workers Congress
is also a new face to the Sabaragamuwa PC.
One of the prominent loser from the UPFA is Jayatilaka Podinilame who
had been the Chief Minister of the Sabaragamuwa Provincial Council twice
under UNP and also a former non Cabinet Minister of the UNF government
under Ranil Wickremesinghe. He joined the UPFA and was appointed as the
Vice Chairman of the previous Council.
Thusitha Wijemanne who secured the highest preferential votes from
UNP list in Kegalle district and Wathsala Pathmasiri are the only women
representatives elected to the Sabaragamuwa Provincial Council.