President Mahinda Rajapaksa`s UPFA administration yesterday swept to an unprecedented landslide victory in the local council elections, winning as many as 222 of the 266 councils for which elections were held, while the main opposition UNP suffered a bad defeat and the JVP could only maintain control of the one council it held earlier.
Political analysts and observers said the UNP was in tatters losing control of more than 200 councils which it won in 2002 while the results gave a huge boost to President Rajapaksa and was virtually a ?Gam peraliya? for him.
A jubilant President Rajapaksa now on a state visit to Pakistan issuing a statement urged UPFA supporters to celebrate the election victory peacefully.
UPFA`s main coalition partner the JVP contested on its own but was only able to retain the Tissamaharama Pradeshiya Sabha, though its leaders had expressed hope for a historic victory where the party would come in second place and push the UNP into the third spot.
Thursday`s elections were equally bad for the all-monk Jathika Hela Urumaya which was virtually trounced.
While the triumphant President Rajapaksa was in Pakistan on a state visit, Minister and UPFA Vice President Piyasena Gamage said the Mahinda Chintanaya policy for which the whole country gave a mandate at last November`s presidential election was endorsed by the `gamas` as well.
?It will be the duty of all elected UPFA representatives to develop the villages and see that the wealth and resources of the country go down equally to the grass roots and the villages and thereby help expedite President Rajapaksa`s programme to build a new Sri Lanka?, he said.
Putting up a brave face despite an obvious defeat -- losing some 200 of the 230 councils it held -- UNP`s Assistant General Secretary Tissa Attanayake said the people had given the party the power to rule in 32 local councils, though the presidency and the government were in the hands of a rival party.
?We will use this opportunity to reorganize the party to successfully face future elections. We dedicate ourselves to the task of delivering an efficient service to the people through the councils we have won?, he said.
Mr. Attanayake on behalf of the UNP thanked those who remained faithful to the party despite the deafeat at the last presidential election and the crossovers in recent months.
The JVP spoke in optimistic terms though most analysts were of the view that the JVP fell far below expectations.
Describing its performance at the polls as a `considerbale victory` contesting as a single party JVP general secretary Tilvin Silva told the Daily Mirror there was a 10 percent increase in the total number of votes polled by the party.
?We managed to win 817,000 votes and there is an increase from 210 councillors to 366?, he said.
He also pointed out that the JVP would be the main opposition party in several councils including Maharagama and Suriyaweva.
JHU leader Ven. Ellawala Medananda Thera said the objective of the party was not to get its members elected but to spread its philosophy among the people.
?So we are happy on that aspect as there are people who accepted our philosophy and voted for us?, he said.
CWC Spokesman R. Yogarajan expressed satisfaction at the UPFA`s victory in several areas where it could not win at the presidential election.
He said the party was looking forward to taking over the administration of several local councils including the Matale Municipal Council, Hatton-Dickoya Urban Councils, Kotmale and Ambagamuwa Pradeshiya Sabhas.
?We have signed an agreement with the UPFA under which we will be given the opportunity to form the administration in those councils?, he said.
The TNA said it was happy to have captured power in seven local councils. TNA parliamentarian M.K. Shivagilingam said the people of the North-East had freely expressed their choice this time. ?We have captured power in seven local councils including the Trincomalee Municipal Council and are happy about our performance?, he added. However he complained that the government had prevented people from voting in a few local councils including Muttur.
Results at a glance
No. of councils declared 264
Ind. group 2