The LG polls results prove beyond any doubt that the people have overwhelmingly supported the UPFA at the grass roots level. For the UNP, which was reeling from the loss at the November presidential election, the polls came as the second wave of tsunamidevastating than the first. The JVP has survived the wave but has lost its loincloth. It stands badly exposed. The JHU, which is nursing its wounds, had some wisdom to desist from making bloated claims before the polls.
The government`s win could be considered impressive in many respects. It entered the fray without its main coalition ally, the JVP, which made demands which were difficult to grant. The SLFP was almost rudderless as its leader, former President Chandrika Kumaratnga, left the country all of a sudden after the campaign entered the most crucial phase, plunging the party into utter confusion. She thus forfeited her right to claim credit for the UPFA victory and let it accrue by default to President Rajapakse, who lent his shoulder to the government campaign.
The importance of the victory is manifold for President Rajapakse. It has debunked the UNP`s much advertised claim that it is capable of forming a government next year and the LG polls will be the first step. Gamen Nagereta (From the village to the town) was its main campaign slogan. It obviously underestimated the popular support that President Rajapakse enjoyed, though it was not so pronounced in the presidential election results. The UNP leader Ranil Wickremesinghe will have the campaign against him in the party gaining momentum. The party`s defeat will be placed squarely at his doorstep and it will trigger many more defections from his side. (We see the Giruvapattu Man grinning from ear to ear!)
Chandrika will have the hands of her rivals, who are demanding her resignation, being strengthened. Pressure mounting on her is so severe that, it is speculated, she might even have to tender her resignation from abroad. However, the UNP, its leader and Chandrika were fighting losing battles against President Rajapakse. He may not have considered them a threat. Perhaps nothing makes him happier than the fate that befell the JVP, which became too embarrassing to him, despite its support for him in the presidential race. The JVP overestimated its strength and, worst of all, came to believe in its own propaganda lies. It went to the extent of boasting that it was prepared to even take over the country. That usually happens when cockiness takes the better of reason. What the JVP failed to see was that Mahinda, the presidential candidate was different from Mahinda the Executive President. The winner becomes the favourite of everybody. Even the CWC is now clinging to his saataka! Rathu Sahodarayas erred badly by demanding control in one third of the councils and one half of the total number of seats for contesting together. The JVP would have expected Mahinda to give in but he refused to meet the demand.
He has cut the JVP down to size, spiked its guns and caused the outfit to lose its bargaining power. The JVP has no alternative but behave, as a general election is a frightening proposition for it. It will have to swallow the deadlines given to Mahinda for sending the Norwegians away etc. The business community to whom the JVP is like a red rag to a bull must be heaving a sigh of relief. The peace lobby must be jubilant as its bete noire has fallen short of being able to sway the government policy towards the peace process.
The results have also helped Mahinda to explode the theory that the JVP has been swallowing the SLFP up. We have repeatedly pointed out in these columns that the JVP is not capable of such a feat. If it ever succeeds in doing so, more harm will be done, paradoxically as it may sound, not to the SLFP but the JVP. For, in such an eventuality, the JVP will end up being another SLFP, having lost its Marxist postures!
However, it should be noted that had the UPFA and the JVP contested together, they would have swept the polls. For example, the UPFA lost the Kesbewa UC like several other councils, because of the split in the anti UNP vote. Such a loss will prove costly at a parliamentary or presidential election. Therefore, Mahinda will have to be wary of turning his presidential back on the JVP.
The JVP cannot trot out any excuses for having failed to live up to its pre election rhetoric. It held thousands of meetings, spent a great deal of funds on TV advertisements and campaigned hard to eat into the UPFA vote base and bag as many councils as possible. Its voters are highly motivated and they couldn`t have stayed at home like the UPFA and UNP supporters. The JVP votes are usually in ballot boxes within hours of the commencement of polling. Still, it couldn`t secure what it demanded from the government, though it fared reasonably well in its stronghold Tissamaharama and the suburbs of Colombo and several other places.
Mahinda may celebrate victory with kevun, kokis and kiribath while Chandrika is sulking abroad. But partying will have to end soon. He has too much on his plate. Now that the people have given his Kurahan Chintanaya another boost, he has to deliver on his promises and take development to the grassroots.