Gota and SLPP to tour Jaffna | Sunday Observer

Gota and SLPP to tour Jaffna

15 September, 2019

Sri Lanka Podujana Peramuna (SLPP) presidential candidate Gotabaya Rajapaksa and former President Mahinda Rajapaksa are due to visit the North on campaign work, Keheliya Rambukwella, a party spokesman, said.

“The Opposition Leader will be visiting first, followed by the presidential hopeful who will tour the North either this month or the next,” he told the Sunday Observer yesterday.

“The Opposition Leader will visit first, followed by the presidential hopeful who would be touring the North this month or the next,” he said.

Rambukwella said he would be visiting the North this week, covering Chavakachcheri and a few other areas, as part of preliminary planning before the candidate’s and the SLPP leader’s visit.

“Whether Gotabaya, Basil and Mahinda will go together is unclear, and would be determined by the security. Our tentative plans are to have a comprehensive campaign, in the Jaffna peninsula,” he said. “We have not been fair by them, in terms of accepting their support,” he said of the northern population. “Some people had doubts. When we reached out to them, we find they are definitely going to be a very supportive force, more so than in 2015,” Rambukwella said.

“Our understanding of the North is that, the Tamil National Alliance (TNA) has become extremely unpopular. At the last election in February 2018 the TNA votes came down by 50%. I don’t think they would be going on the basis of any more promises,” he said.

While the precise dates of the tour are not yet determined, the schedule of programs has been finalised, he said. “It all depends on when the UNP would announce its candidate.”

Commenting on Rajapaksa’s Northern campaign, North-based activist and economist Dr. Ahilan Kadirgamar told the Sunday Observer, “it would be interesting to see, what constituency they will mobilise.”

While the large population, in the North, will not support the Gotabaya presidential nomination or their bid to presidency, Gotabaya Rajapaksa is being supported by Douglas Devananda, who has a social base, Kadirgamar noted.

“Devananda has consistently, in every election, been able to mobilise that base. Will that base support Gotabhaya’s presidency or not? I think outside that there won’t be much of a support for him.”

He doubts that the Tamil constituency, other than Devananda’s base, would shift their position. Though, he noted, it is a significant section, possibly with a 20-25% voter base.

He further noted that it is yet to be seen how polarising the election campaigns are going to be.

“The Ezhuha Tamil rally will be held tomorrow. That again is going to put forward a very narrow Tamil nationalist discourse, which, in turn, reinforces the narrow Sinhala-Buddhist discourse in the South,” he said.