Sri Lanka poll: Dissecting Rajapaksa's loss

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The victory over the LTTE and the invitation of the Pope to Sri Lanka were not enough for Mahinda Rajapaksa to retain his post as President for a third term in a row. No one can claim that this was a shock result and many analysts would in fact point out that the victory of Srisena was written on the wall. [Rajapaksa's loss: Immediate concerns for India]

The people of Sri Lanka clearly voted for a change and issues such as high cost of living, nepotism were among the key factors that resulted in the defeat of Rajapaksa. [Salman Khan failed to rescue Rajapaksa]

Lanka poll: Dissecting Rajapaksa's loss

Body blows:

Ahead of the elections a lot of calculations went wrong for Rajapaksa. As the election process was set into motion Rajapaksa witnessed one set back after another. The resignation of Rishad Bathiudeen who was the Industry and Commerce Minister was a major blow for Rajapaksa.

The 9.3 per cent votes of the Muslims that Rajapaksa was banking on was also lost after the Sri Lanka Muslim Congress

Bathiudeen too resigned to support Sirisena. On 28 December, leader of Sri Lanka's largest Muslim political party, Sri Lanka Muslim Congress and Justice Minister Mr Rauf Hakeem delivered a body blow to Rajapaksa after pledging support for Sirisena.

Unity of the minorities:

According to the Asian Centre for Human Rights the Tamil National Alliance (TNA) was never expected to support Rajapaksa. Palani Digambaram and V Radhakrishnan, both Deputy Ministers representing Indian origin plantation Tamils resigned from Rajapaksa's Ministry on 11 December 2014 to support Sirisena.

For the first time in the history of Sri Lanka, the unity of the minorities against a Presidential candidate has become complete. The votes of the minorities with 32% share of the total votes with Tamils representing 15.3%, followed by Muslims with 9.3% and Christians with 7.4% was decisive.

Apart from Pope Francis' visit to Sri Lanka from 12 to 15 January 2015, Rajapaksa has simply failed to convince his re-election for another term.

Victory of LTTE no longer sells:

The victory over the LTTE no longer sells. President Rajapaksa and his brothers also cannot lambast the West and the United Nations having barred the visit of the UN Commission of Inquiry (CoI) on Sri Lanka into the country. In fact, on 23 December 2014, Rajapaksa conceded to the main plank of the opposition as he promised to reform the powerful presidency within one year if re-elected. Sri Lankans are unlikely to be convinced by enlightenment gained by Rajapaksa in the face of defeat.

The dissatisfaction of the Tamils against the Rajapaksa regime requires little introduction. However, it is the relentless attacks which made the Muslims and the Christians anti-Rajapaksa.

On 2 July 2014, three UN experts on freedom of religion, minority issues, and summary executions in a joint press statement urged the government of Sri Lanka to adopt urgent measures to stop the promotion of racial and faith-based hatred, and violence against Muslim and Christian communities by the Buddhist groups with extremist views, and bring perpetrators of this violence to justice.

According to the UN experts, more than 350 violent attacks against Muslims and over 150 attacks against Christians were reported in Sri Lanka in the last two years.

Pre-cursor:

In the elections held in Central, Northern and North Western provinces in September 2013, the TNA won over 78% of the vote in the North defeating the ruling United People's Freedom Alliance (UPFA) while UPFA won in the North Western and Central provinces with 66% and 60% respectively.

Further, in the elections held in Western Province and Southern Province in March 2014, the UPFA won in both the Provinces but lost seats and vote share. While in the Western province, it won 56 seats compared to 68 seats in 2009 elections, i.e. losing 12 seats, in the Southern Province it lost 5 seats with 33 seats won compared to previous 38 seats.

The UPFA's vote share fell by about 11 percent in the Western Province, from 1,506,115 (64.73%) in 2009 to 1,363,675 (53.35%) and in the Southern Province from 804,071 (67.88%) to 699,408 (58.06%) by approximately 10 per cent.

The UPFA won the elections in the Uva Province held in September 2014, but its vote share fell sharply by 21% from 72% in 2009 to 51%, resulting in the loss of six seats.

No confidence of international community:

ACHR states that Sri Lankans are also aware that Rajapaksa lacks confidence of international community, in particular, India. Devolution of power for the Tamil minorities apart, the repeated arrests of Indian Tamil fishermen has been frowned upon by New Delhi.

By opening up the Indian Ocean to China, on which India, US, EU and Australia are on the same page, Rajapaksa appears to have bitten more than he could chew.

India should have been the primary concern:

In recent years, India's support for political parties in the neighbouring countries has been critical for the electoral results at home and international recognition.

Though the Maoists of Nepal won the constituent assembly elections in April 2008 despite India's suspicion on the Maoists, the Nepali Congress and the CPN-UML with the support of India trounced the Maoists in the elections held in December 2013.

In the parliamentary elections held in Bangladesh in January 2014, the Awami League won 153 out of 300 parliamentary seats even before the first vote was cast as the opposition Bangladesh National Party boycotted the elections, and India's unstinted support to the Awami League was critical for its recognition at international level.

In Bhutan, the People's Democratic Party stormed into power in July 2013 after India stopped kerosene supply to Bhutan just prior to the elections to send a clear message of India's disapproval of the Druk Phuensum Tshogpa government whose then Prime Minister Jigme Y. Thinley dared to meet then Chinese Prime Minister Wen Jiabao on the sidelines of Rio+20 summit in June 2012 in Brazil.

India's role in the Maldives has been cluttered as India initially supported ouster of then President Mohamed Nasheed in February 2012 following opening of the Chinese embassy in Male in December 2011 but came around to support Nasheed against Abdulla Yameen, with whom New Delhi has made peace after Yameen won the Presidential elections in November 2013.

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