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.
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.
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.