The Southern Provincial Council elections will be held on October 10 with almost all major political parties in the fray.
Out of the three districts in the Southern Province, Galle will have the highest number of polling stations - over 670, to cover 10 electorates, a total of 761,815 registered voters.
In addition, 442 polling stations would be set up in the Matara District which has 578,858 registered voters and 485 polling stations in the Hambantota District with 421,181 people qualified to vote.
Fifteen political parties and four independent groups have handed in their nomination lists for the Galle district. Fifteen political parties and three Independent Groups are contesting in the Matara district. Hambantota has attracted eleven recognised political parties and six independent groups.
Having secured a landslide victory at the Uva Provincial Council elections held earlier this month, the United People`s Freedom Front (UPFA), is well set for another thumping win. The faith kept by the masses on the UPFA was evident when the ruling Alliance secured well over 60 per cent of votes in all districts in the Uva Province.
The Southern Province has been a breeding ground for loyal and patriotic sons of our soil, who have played a prominent role in the country`s victorious battles against terrorism.
Hence, the people in the South would also endorse the far reaching and fearless decisions of President Mahinda Rajapaksa and his Government.
The masses in the South would not only give a clear mandate to the Government but also would do so in a convincing fashion with the largest ever victory margin.
At the last Southern Provincial Council, the ruling UPFA had 36 seats against the 19 in the Opposition. With the soaring popularity of the Government because of its people friendly policies, the UPFA is sure to increase the majority further.
The United National Party (UNP), which has lost 22 elections in-a-row under the shaky leadership of Ranil Wickremesinghe, is heading towards political disaster. Having lost two successive Presidential elections, Wickremesinghe has proved his inability to attract the masses.
The Southern Provincial Council elections would certainly create more problems for the UNP, which is making a desperate attempt to avoid defeat again, now that most of the UNP seniors have shown resentment at the recent `invasion` of Parliamentarian Mangala Samaraweera.
Samaraweera, who has been isolated after his politically `suicidal decision` to quit the Government, is gradually attempting to take control of the UNP, but the majority of the UNP stalwarts would never endorse the aspirations of Samaraweera to become the party leader.
Adding fuel to the internal power struggle of the UNP is the controversial appointment of regional leaders, especially in the South. Without considering their seniority and contribution to the party, Wickremesinghe seemed to have discarded many party stalwarts.
Many UNP Parliamentarians, including Johnston Fernando and Lakshman Seneviratne, have been demanding a new leadership which could take the UNP out of the losing mentality. Though the UNP leader has been promising several reforms from time to time, seemed to have conveniently forgotten all and continues to remain in the saddle.
Unless the UNP puts its house in order and think of a charismatic leader who could attract the masses, the party would continue to go down the slide.
The JVP could only show once again that they have less than three per cent of votes, or even less. Since the departure of its Propaganda Secretary Wimal Weerawansa and nine other Parliamentarians, the JVP has turned out to be a crown without jewels.
Weerawansa was considered the mouthpiece of the JVP and his contribution to popularise the JVP was immense. But the JVP lost even the little attraction it had with the departure of Weerawansa and his team. Under the circumstances, the JVP could fathom the party`s deteriorating vote base this time.
The people in the South are fully experiencing the massive development projects that are being implemented in the Province. The aim of the Government is to develop the Southern Province on par with the Western Province. Many meaningful steps have already been taken to develop the Southern Province at a rapid pace.
The construction of a new airport and a sea port would lead to an economic revolution in the South. Infrastructure development would also take place concurrently. The construction of the Southern Expressway is taking place at a rapid pace.
The new highway would be a big boon to farmers, investors as well as exporters as it would cut down the travel time. The 128 km Southern highway will link Western Province and the commercial hub of Colombo with two key cities in the Southern Sri Lanka - Galle and Matara. At 10 to 15 km intervals, it will be connected to the existing road network with loops, providing access to the entire South West region. The new highway will reduce the travelling time from four hours to one and a half hours, thus boosting economic activity and the regeneration of the South.
In addition the benefits from the Southern Expressway, Airport and Hambantota Port would create thousands of employment opportunities to the people of the area. The construction work of the Hambantota Port is scheduled to be completed by November next year.
There will be a three-phase development program for the Port, which once completed will be able to handle 20 million TEUs. The first phase of the Hambantota Port will cost 437 million dollars of which 85 per cent comes from China. The Port is a joint venture between China Harbour Engineering and Syno Hydro Corporation, while the Tank Farm too is being built by a Chinese firm.
Sri Lanka`s second international airport in the Southern province would be a big boost for the Southerners. Environmental approval has been granted to the new proposed international airport at Mattala in the Hambantota District. The new airport is scheduled to be opened in 2011.