Opposition runs through nightmare scenarios

By  |  0 Comments

“President and his family, doesn’t seem ready to go out of power”.  Former President Chandrika Bandaranake  told BBC’s Sinhala service yesterday saying that the common opposition does have a plan in case President Rajapaksa clings on to power after the 9th should he loose the elections.   Former president refused to divulge on the details of the plan saying that “we can’t reveal that now”.

During the last days of campaigning leading up to the polls, the common opposition has been shoring up a  number of conspiracy theories.

First is large-scale voter rigging.  In the afternoon today,  several opposition MPs and activists “raided” the BMICH claiming that it housed illegally marked ballot papers. They found nothing. Just yesterday, the common candidate Maithripala Sirisena complained to the election commissioner of  a number of issues including the discovery of marked ballot papers found in several districts with Sirisena’s symbol distorted.  In opposition social media circles the possibilities of “computer jilmaat” is talked about seriously. One theory holds that faxes sent from regional counting centers to the election commissioner can be intercepted and doctored with the help of “Indian IT experts” now housed in a SLT facility.  Commissioner Deshapriya countered these allegations explaining that all faxes are  verified by both email as well as phone with the sender and therefore any inconsistencies can be found out and addressed.  SLT also issued a statement denying allegations.   For the opposition however, vote rigging by any means remain a concern despite the assurances by the election commissioner.

The opposition also complains about the media shenanigans the ruling regime might play during the last hours of the polls.  In one scenario, dummy’s resembling UNP deputy leader Sajith Premadasa and other leaders will be shown entering temple trees. Another announces a “Sirisena pulls out” on state TV alluding to the other joke candidate Sirisena who’s also running for president.  For now, the state media excess has been limited to proxy advertisements by state-run corporations hitting on President Rajapaksa’s campaign themes.  An effort by the president to address the country was blocked by a court order.  With the opposition on frenzied mode, they might have prevented large scale abuse of the state media, but as voting day unfolds, wild stories are to be expected from state-run television.

A more real concern for the opposition is the alleged military deployments in the North and East, where President Rajapaksa is expected to do especially poorly.  A low turn out in the northern vote much below 50% might deal a serious blow the opposition campaign. Expectation of the possibility is one of the reasons opposition analysts say, for the TNA to formally endorse candidate Maithripala, despite the flak the decision would draw from the Sinhala electorates.  TNA’s ground-level organization and moral support will need to be on high gear to counter any intimidation efforts.  Last week opposition leader Ranil Wickramasinghe alleged that a blueprint to deploy troops in crucial areas has been leaked , the government and the army however has denied all allegations.

The elephant in the room is the possibility of not having a smooth transfer of power should President Rajapska loose the election on the 8th. President’s son Namal Rajapska chose to ignore a related question posed by The Republic Square on his last twitter  Q&A earlier in the week.  Government’s standard answer has always been that they will never loose the election and therefore this question becomes a non-issue. They remain confident both in public and in private that President Rajapaksa will win the elections.