On the Campaign (Jungle) Trail

ye olde propaganda banner

I traveled to Kandy and also upto Puttlam over the weekend. I mostly saw Mahinda Rajapakse’s face and the color blue splattered everywhere. Evidence of Sarath Fonseka’s presence was limited to a few slightly ripped election posters and the odd old wartime banner put up during the days when both he and the president were on the same side; the side that killed terrorists.

MR on the New York Times via @TMnY

 Sarath Fonseka’s new advertisement is happening. But not as happening as the president’s SMS to all mobile phones in Sri Lanka on new years day. Dinidu asked Dialog about it and has written about their response here. They apparently said that they couldnt stop sending these messages beacause it was from the president. Sarath Fonseka’s new years e-mail was a bit long, so i haven’t read it yet. 

Mahinda has got his below the line advertising down pat while Sarath Fonseka’s town storming looks like a campaign for Gay Pride week. Fonseka seems nervous when he speaks; a newbie into the political way of doing things. The only thing consistent about his speeches are his gaffes that reveal a Sinhalese superioritist sentiment. They are not doing much to take back what he expressed to the Canadian Press a while ago. 

Leaving no stone unturned, or carriage unoccupied

 The coalition on which his candidacy rests is itself resting on shaky ground; it has all come together to try and win an election and has absolutely no idea what it is going to do next. People say ‘never trust the JVP’. Indeed, the economic alliance of the UNP and the JVP cannot be more bipolar than Santa Clause working with the Grinch. Their brands of Capitalism and Neo-Marxism can hardly combine to make a unprecedented super economic philosophy. 

This is reflected in the respective campaigns. The opposition is not offering any kind of concrete reform other than a broad promise to abolish the executive presidency and general talk of doing away with nepotism and corruption, not really providing a challenge to the incumbent who is currently just using proven-to-succeed tactics like plastering the country with images of himself and reducing/ promising to reduce the prices of essential goods. 

Propaganda is usually illegal and mostly sponsored through dubious means. In the case of Mahinda, he is dictating the terms here. He controls the state and arguably the legal system. He is setting the rules in a game that Fonseka is not equipped to play in. When it comes to campaigning its a jungle out there and the fittest survive. And given the conditions of play it is no surprise who is gaining the upper hand. 

From one perspective, it is in the interest of the taxpayer that the president wins. It makes sense to put your vote where your money goes to.

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6 comments
  1. Suresh said:

    “It makes sense to put your vote where your money goes to.”

    Unfortunately we have no say as to where our money is going to… and most of it is going into the Rajapaksa family’s bottomless pockets!

  2. Chavie said:

    This countries had plenty of elections where the incumbent had a strong upper hand but the opposition managed to steal the crown, often even after much bigger manipulation than what takes place in the present times… But the village-level activism that such a victory needs is missing this time, even from the JVP, due to all kinds of threats. (Talking about the the rural areas)

  3. Nimal said:

    I don’t mean to sound rude, but Sarath Fonseka has proved himself to be a right royal twat. What the fuck do the UNP and JVP and the SLMC and the TNA have in common? How the fuck are they going to come up with a set of policies that will be to Sri Lanka’s benefit? Sorry to pepper my questions with dirty french but seriously, what is this coterie going to come out with? All they seem to have going for them is a “let’s defeat Mahinda!” vibe. Nothing of substance. The last thing Sri Lanka needs is that ugly twat Mangala Samaweera and the tinpot retards of the JVP holding seats of power.

  4. Punchi Baba said:

    ‘Fonseka becoming Lankan President will be disastrous for India’

    Razik Zarook, Sri Lankan President Mahinda Rajapakse’s Counsel and a close confidante of the Sri Lankan leader, has warned that if former Army General Sarath Fonseka who successfully prosecuted the war against the LTTE and is now challenging Rajapakse for the presidency in the election to be held January 26, is elected, it would be disastrous not just for Sri Lanka, but the region as a whole, particularly India.

    In an exclusive interview with rediff.com’s Aziz Haniffa, Zarook, former Sri Lankan Ambassador to the erstwhile Yugoslavia and Hungary and the island nation’s ex High Commissioner to Singapore, who was on a private visit to Washington, DC, also disclosed India’s role in providing strategic intelligence to the Sri Lankan military that was invaluable to defeating the LTTE.

    He said that while the Indian assistance was not overt like that provided to Sri Lanka by China and Pakistan, (owing to domestic compulsions, particularly since the elections were on at the time), New Delhi’s move to arm Sri Lanka with patrolling vessels and conduct joint exercises with the Sri Lankan Navy in blockading LTTE vessels and intercepting arms supplies was an important turning point in the war.

    Zarook also said while he had no access to intelligence information, the talk of the town a few months ago was how Indian intelligence had tipped off the Sri Lankan government about an impending military coup just at the time that Fonseka had taken on an opposing posture against Rajapakse for the latter’s refusal to acquiesce to the then Army Commander’s insistence for the creation of army cantonments in the so-called liberated areas and also for an increase of 100,000 to 150,000 of army personnel.

    The President’s Counsel, also spoke of how the US, after its initial stinging criticism of the Sri Lankan government on the treatment of the more than 300,000 internally displaced persons in the wake of the war, had now come around to appreciate the government’s painstaking screening process and kept referring to Assistant Secretary of State for South Asian Affairs Robert Blake’s 180 degree turn.

    Click on NEXT to read the exclusive interview

    http://news.rediff.com/slide-show/2010/jan/08/slide-show-1-interview-with-razik-zarook.htm#contentTop

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