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Lanka’s Rajapaksa clan registers landslide win in parliamentary polls

By PTI
|

Colombo, Aug 07: Sri Lanka''s powerful Rajapaksa family-run SLPP on Friday registered a landslide victory in the general election, securing two-thirds majority in Parliament needed to effect key constitutional changes to consolidate the clan''s control on power.

Mahinda Rajapaksa

The Sri Lanka People''s Party (SLPP), led by prime minister Mahinda Rajapaksa, has won in 145 constituencies, bagging a total of 150 seats with its allies, a two-thirds majority in the 225-member Parliament, according to the results announced by the election commission.

Amid COVID-19 pandemic, Sri Lanka's new Parliament session to commence on August 20

It won all but four of the 22 electoral districts on offer, polling 6.8 million votes (59.9 per cent).

The victory margins in the South, dominated by the majority Sinhala community, were in the high 60 per cent mark in most areas.

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    Taking to Twitter, the 74-year-old Prime Minister Mahinda thanked the Sri Lankan people for putting their faith in the SLPP and said that the country will not stand disappointed during its tenure.

    "Heartfelt gratitude to all #SriLankans for placing their trust in President @GotabayaR, myself and the @PodujanaParty and voting for the 'Saubhagye Dakkama' election manifesto in overwhelming numbers. We will ensure #lka will not stand disappointed during our tenure," he said.

    Prime Minister Narendra Modi was among the first world leaders to congratulate Mahinda on the outcome of the elections and said the two sides will work together to further advance all areas of bilateral cooperation and to take their special ties to ever newer heights.

    "Thank you PM @narendramodi for your congratulatory phone call. With the strong support of the people of #SriLanka, I look forward to working with you closely to further enhance the long-standing cooperation between our two countries. Sri Lanka & India are friends & relations," Mahinda tweeted. The Rajapaksa family has dominated Sri Lankan politics for two decades. Mahinda was previously president, from 2005 to 2015.

    President Gotabaya Rajapaksa, who won the November presidential election on the SLPP ticket, had called a snap election six months ahead of the schedule.

    In the parliamentary election, he was seeking 150 seats mandatory to execute some constitutional changes, including to repeal the 19th Amendment to the Constitution which had curbed the presidential powers while strengthening the role of Parliament.

    The biggest casualty from the result was the United National Party (UNP) of former prime minister Ranil Wickremesinghe.

    The UNP managed to win only one seat and that too came thanks to the cumulative votes polled nationally. The country''s grand old party failed to win a single seat from any of the 22 districts.

    Its leader and four-time prime minister was unseated for the first time since he entered Parliament in 1977. Wickremesinghe failed to win from Colombo district as his party finished fourth in most constituencies.

    The UNP only polled 249,435 votes or just two per cent of the total votes and was relegated to the fifth position nationally.

    Wickremesinghe''s former deputy and presidential candidate Sajith Premadasa, who had broken away from the UNP to form his own party Samagi Jana Balawegaya (SJB), has done well by winning 55 seats with its main Muslim party ally bagging it the solitary district win in the eastern port district of Trincomalee.

    The SJB has polled a total of 2.7 million (23 per cent) votes, emerging as the second largest party, according to the results.

    The main Tamil party TNA did not fare well as their parliamentary representation saw a reduction for a total of 10 seats from 16 it had won the last time.

    The party managed to win three districts in the Tamil-dominated North and polled 327,168 votes (2.82 per cent), the results showed.

    The Marxist Janatha Vimukthi Peramuna (JVP), despite winning only three seats from their six in the previous election, retained its position as the third force in the country by pushing the former ruling party UNP to the fourth and in many areas to even fifth and sixth places. It polled 445,958 (3.84 per cent) of the total votes.

    SLPP founder and its National Organiser Basil Rajapaksa -- who is the younger brother of President Gotabaya with the eldest being Prime Minister Mahinda -- on Thursday said that the party is all set to form a new government.

    President Gotabaya on March 2 dissolved Parliament, six months ahead of the schedule, and called for snap polls on April 25. However, the election commission in mid-April postponed the elections by nearly two months to June 20 due to the coronavirus outbreak in the island nation.

    In June, the commission informed the apex court that the polls cannot be held on June 20 because of the coronavirus pandemic and the new date was decided following a unanimous decision reached between the members of the commission.

    The election commission held several mock polls to put into practice health guidelines and even extended the poll time by one hour in view of the pandemic.

    The polls on August 5 were conducted to elect a 225-member Parliament for a five-year term.

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