I live partly in Minneriya, where both my cabin in the Forest, Kumbuk Pokuna Lodge and my agricultural allotment in Raja Ela, Hingurakgoda are situated. This electorate gave 70% of the votes cast in favor of Mahinda Rajapkse, which I was told was the highest percentage of any electorate in the land. This after Maithripala Sirisena one of the sitting MPs for the District and the General Secretary of the SLFP and a future contender for the Premiership, having never attended even a meeting in the electorate.
In my regular conversations with locals, I discovered an interesting twist that could have contributed to the landslide in this area. I have been traveling for the past 5 years to Minneriya in the dead of night all by myself being stopped at numerous checkpoints along the way. I also sleep in an open verandah open to the elements and man or beast, who may decide to drop in. I have also lived through the sounds of the Helicopters from the Hingurakgoda air base, and Jets and bombs being dropped in nearby Thoppigala mountains and the Sampur and Vakarai areas which are not too far as the crow flies, on flat land where sound travels great distances.
All this left the locals in fear of the LTTE, and any possible attack in these areas, even though in practical terms it was a far-fetched. People go to sleep closing all their doors and locking their homes so that no intruder or animal can get in, and even all the windows shut tightly and locked.
I suspect that living in fear of the LTTE for so long, left a permanent scar on the psyche of the people, which only the end of the war could erase. This relief and resulting gratitude for the President for making it happen, would have contributed to the support he received from a grateful public.
The added factor of each village in the country suffering from the loss of their young men to casualties of war both death and maimed, left an indelible mark as the personal sacrifice was a heavy one. The elimination of this along with the resulting jingoism of Patriotism and Nationalism, being misused in the Government Media gave a boost to the hand of the President.
The final nail in the coffin was the portrayal of the opposition candidate as a traitor having made a pact with the TNA, who hitherto had been completely tainted as Tigers in mufti, gave credence to that tag line. I have no doubt that all the above contributed to the personal esteem of the President.
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