resident Mahinda Rajapaksa has asked the ruling coalition ministers to prepare for a ‘national election’ which is to be announced shortly.According to Investment Promotion Minister Lakshman Yapa Abeywardena, they have not still been told if it would be a Presidential or a Parliamentary election, though speculation is rife that the government would go for a snap Presidential poll early next year. “It (a national election) will come very soon. The President told us to get ready for an election. There are only two national elections – presidential election and a parliamentary election. We are ready for both of them,” he told media yesterday.
Asked if the Minister could give a likely date for the election, he said the President was yet to announce an exact date, as he had the sole authority for calling an election. It appears that the government is leveraging post-war economic development achieved so far in all fronts including post-war re-construction, rural empowerments and rural economic development, physical infrastructure development and the creation of a conducive business climate for the foreign investors as key election campaign.
“We have spent as much as Rs.58.3 billion this year on rural economic development through the Economic Development Ministry alone. We have ensured that benefits of economic development feeds through to the rural sectors in all districts including North and East.
Hence, we are confident that the people are with Mahinda Rajapaksa regime. That’s the truth,” Minister Abeywardena stressed.
“There is no other personality superior to Mahinda Rajapaksa as an alternative for the masses. With this personality we are not scared of facing any national election, and also there is no doubt over wining an election. Therefore we are now preparing ourselves for a national election.”
However according to analysts, despite much has been done to revive the post-war economy, a snap poll could hurt the economic momentum built so far as all efforts and resources will invariably be diverted for the election.
Since last month, the government has been sending signals for a possible national election announcing utility price cuts on electricity and gas, targeting residential customers.
Economists question as to how a government could suddenly announce price cuts in an ad-hoc manner when they are required to maintain fiscal discipline.
Meanwhile Minister Abeywardena hit out at the opposition party JVP for initiating a campaign called ‘Mahindata thun parak beha’ (Mahinda can’t 3 times) even before announcing a Presidential election. Highlighting opposition parties’ hypocrisy, he asked why they are so scared of President Rajapaksa and asked to present a better contender than the incumbent Rajapaksa if possible.
He further recalled that the 18th amendment to the constitution was passed in parliament in September 2010 with the consent of masses, enabling the contender to contest more than twice for Presidency. “We are not asking the people’s mandate by force or illegally. So, why do they carry out poster campaigns saying Mahindata thun parak beha?”
“When Mahinda Rajapaksa contested for the Presidential election in 2005, they said he could not win, but he won. Some said, he could not defeat the world’s most ruthless terrorism outfit, but he did. Some also said, he could not revive the economy, but it is taking shape as never before.