Crossover Drama set to reach it’s grand finale

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The unfolding crossover drama is all set for a climatic season finale when the campaigning officially ends Monday at midnight.  Both the government and the main opposition are claiming that several ‘big fish’ are set to crossover to their respective sides.   Former Deputy Minister Nandamitra Ekanayake, the latest government MP to crossover to support the common candidate said that two more high profile defections are on the way.  “You wouldn’t have imagined that they would cross over.”  Ekanayake told a press gathering in Matale, his home district.  “A majority of people in this district are waiting for a change against the waste, corruption, fraud and intimidation.” he told reporters.

Opposition sources  has told The Asian Mirror news site that several ‘heavyweights’ of the ruling party, including those who hold cabinet portfolios are set to crossover and join the common opposition final rally on Monday.  Several names including that of two Kalutara district ministers including one minister’s son in the provincial council are thrown around as possible crossovers.  A disgruntled Gampaha district  MP is also on the list along with a bunch of other probables from several districts. Whether some or all of these crossovers materialize remains to be seen, as there’s intensive lobbying from both sides and given the fact that the  political cost of crossover should the President wins will likely to be very high. With the opposition promising an all-party government, UPFA ministers might want to wait it out.  With just three days to the all-important polls, the focus is now on baiting high-profile personalities that will make a dent in the side they leave and boost momentum for the side they cross over. According to Ceylon Today,  North Western Province Chief Minister,  Dayasiri Jayasekara has also been approached by the opposition, but he has rejected the offer. 

The government is lobbying hard to secure several ‘big fish’ from the opposition side according to several mainstream outlets and other government sources.  Last week the Sunday Times confirmed that overtures has been made to General Sarath Fonseka with a deal that would see among other things, his medals, pension and rank restored.  Opposition has offered him the same deal. For the moment General Fonseka appears to be staying put, but heavy lobbying is still underway.  For General Fonseka, returning to the Rajapaksa fold will require forgiving a period of extreme strife in his life caused by the very government that now seeks his support. Desperate times however, calls for depserate measures. Names of  popular UNPer Harin Fernando and deputy leader Sajith Premadasa has also been mentioned as been having approached or has had active negotiations with the government.  All three personalities vehemently denied the rumors and still remain active in the Maithripala Sirisena campaign.

In Public, the Rajapaksa campaign says that they will win by over two million votes, a figure surpassing his previous victory in 2010. No one takes that seriously. In private,  UPFA operatives close to the campaign admit that the battle is tough but hopes that the opposition’s anti-corruption message would not devastatingly impact the Sinhala rural vote.  On print and television media, the opposition juggernaut continue.  To date 26 MPs have crossed over to the opposition, along with large number of provincial and local-level politicians abandoning the UPFA ship.  Civil society groups too have campaigned hard against the president with a massive presence in print and electronic media. On the surface, the president for the first time in his presidency, looks cornered.

However, Pre-election surveys confirm significant undecided vote still exists, a big chunk of which President Rajapaksa hopes to win.  A well-timed crossover would certainly help his cause.  After midnight on today, all campaign propaganda must officially cease; and here the president will have an advantage. With the two state TV stations at his beck and call,  president Rajapska could inflict some serious damage to the opposition campaign over the next few days.

This is why the government is vying hard for a high-profile crossover to turn the tables on the opposition’s momentum.  A crossover by a personality such as General Fonseka, purportedly exposing ‘secret deals’ with TNA, either real or manufactured could make a decisive impact on the Sinhala Buddhist swing vote that the president now so desperately needs to cross the line.

The final election rally s are scheduled for tonight, with indications that it might turn out to be an epic season finale of an already drama-packed election season.




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