Uva unsettles UPFA!

Monday, 22 September 2014 00:02 -     - {{hitsCtrl.values.hits}}

  • Ruling alliance sees vote share in Uva plummet to 51% from 72% in 2009
  • UNP more than doubles its votes in the Province, claims moral victory
  • Harin tops preferential list province wide with 173,799 votes
  • Shashendra garners only 96,619;  to resume office as Chief Minister
  • Tight race in Badulla District: UPFA 47% UNP 44%
UNP’s Harin Fernando (left) who topped the preferential votes at Saturday’s Uva Provincial Council election waves at people whilst UPFA’s Shashendra Rajapaksa (right) who resumes office as the Uva Chief Minister with his supporters yesterday - Pix by Pradeep Pathirana and Shehan Gunasekera   By Dharisha Bastians The ruling United Peoples’ Freedom Alliance won a bittersweet victory in the Uva Province on Saturday, by scraping a majority in the provincial council with 19 seats while losing over 23.8 percent of its vote share since 2009. The election results were a significant setback for the Government, which was able to muster only 51 percent of the vote in Saturday’s poll, after its whopping 72.3 percent win in PC polls in the region in 2009. With the Moneragala District in play, the Uva Province has been a solid performer for the ruling party in elections since 2009, often polling over 70 percent in favour of the UPFA. The UPFA won 17 seats in the election and secured two bonus seats up for grabs in the province, bringing its final number of elected members up to 19. The two thirds majority it enjoyed in the Uva PC since 2009, has been reduced to a simple majority. The results have political analysts speculating that President Mahinda Rajapaksa will not declare snap presidential polls early next year as scheduled. The main opposition United National Party made a major comeback increasing its vote shares in every electorate in the Uva Province, while its charismatic Chief Ministerial candidate Harin Fernando topped the preferential votes list, province-wide. The UNP won 13 seats in the Uva Provincial Council and its share of the vote province wide spiked to 40.2%, up 18% percentage points from the last PC election in 2009. The JVP which polled over 36,000 votes in the Uva Province won two seats on the Council. Fernando obtained 173,993 preferential votes in the Badulla District, nearly 88% of the total votes cast in favour of the UNP at the election. He beat incumbent Chief Minister Shashendra Rajapaksa, son of Speaker Chamal Rajapaksa who saw his preferential votes plummet by 40,078 from 136,697 in 2009 to 96,619 in Saturday’s crucial election. As anticipated the Badulla District became a tight race, with the UPFA and UNP neck and neck until the very early hours of Sunday morning. The UPFA finally carried the district with 47.37% of the vote and nine seats, while the UNP polled a healthy 44.79% to win only one seat less than its main rival. The UNP secured the three key electorates of Badulla, Hali-ella and Welimada and managed to reduce the UPFA’s margins in six electorates in the district. The main opposition party lost the Bandarawela Polling division by a mere 280 votes. Interestingly, both Ministers Nimal Siripala De Silva and Dilan Perera faced defeats in their electorates of Badulla and Hali-ella respectively, which swung in favour of the UNP. The Government alliance managed a much more comfortable win in the Moneragala District, obtaining 58 percent of the vote. But the result was still a sharp decrease from 2009, when it obtained 81 percent of the Moneragala vote. The UNP polled 77,065 votes or 31.92% in the Moneragala District, up from 15.52% in 2009. Wimal Weerawansa’s National Freedom Front, Sarath Fonseka’s Democratic Party and the Hakeem-Bathiudeen group - Democratic Unity Alliance - were the biggest losers in Saturday’s contest. All these parties failed to obtain a single seat in the Uva Provincial Council. “This result has to be extrapolated to other provinces, as well, that is how the result should be read,” Ravaya Editor and Political analyst Victor Ivan told Daily FT. Ivan said Uva was a UPFA stronghold and the Government had used its entire strength to hold its margins in the province. “This is the first reality check for the President and the people in his family. If this is the reaction from Uva, which is a home ground, then the results in other provinces will be worse, not better,” the Ravaya Editor said. He said the results were a rejection of the Government’s mega projects that have no connection to people’s lives. “The people are also rejecting the Rajapaksa’s patriotism rhetoric,” Ivan said. The President’s best hope now is to push through reforms and create a debate around systems, Ivan said. “He would be stupid to go for a presidential election now,” he added.    
  • Start packing your bags: UNP tells Rajapaksa regime
  • UPFA hails significant victory in Uva; Expresses confidence it could face and win national elections
  • Won but not enough says JVP
  • Highest number of election-day incidents in recent polls cycles: Election monitors

 I am the people’s Chief Minister: Harin

UNP chief ministerial hopeful Harin Fernando, who polled the highest number of preferential votes in the Uva Province, thanked supporters for their confidence in him and said he would always be the ‘people’s chief minister.’ Speaking to Daily FT yesterday, after most of the results were released, Fernando said he had led the UNP campaign against the might of the Rajapaksa family and the Rajapaksa government machinery, and proved that both were uninvincible. “It is a historic day and the beginning of a great wave that is building against this regime’s corruption and nepotism,” Fernando said, after he beat President Rajapaksa nephew Shashendra in the preferential vote tally with 173,799 vs. the younger Rajapaksa’s 96,619. Fernando contested in the more populous Badulla District, while Shashendra Rajapaksa contested in the Moneragala District - a UPFA stronghold. Fernando said he hoped the result in the Uva election would inspire others in the UNP and the opposition to take the fight to the Government going forward.

 President terms Uva verdict “spectacular victory”

President Mahinda Rajapaksa yesterday called his party’s performance in the Uva Province on Saturday a “spectacular victory.” “It is a mandate for the Government to accelerate its massive development drive,” President Rajapaksa said in a special statement issued to the media on Sunday. He said the UPFA victory in Uva was important for the entire country. The people of Uva have given their blessings for the peace, freedom and development the Government has been able to offer even in the most remote corners of the country,” President Rajapaksa said. He said the people had rejected the malicious allegations against his Government with their endorsement of the UPFA at the election. “The most important thing to us is the people’s will. We will never allow anyone to defeat the people’s needs and the needs of the nation,” he asserted in the statement. “I thank the heroic people of Uva for delivering this spectacular victory to us,” the President said,, adding that he would use the renewed mandate to work towards the upliftment of people’s lives. “I will forever cherish the love and friendship shown to me by the people of Uva, each time I visited, irrespective of race or religion,” he said. Pix by Shehan Gunasekara