The Event that few predicted would happen did in fact happen and the rest as they say is History
Much has been written in the past few says since 7am on Friday 9th January, when Mahinda Rajapakse conceded, and left Temple Trees. I am merely adding to this in my own personal way, how I saw the whole campaign unfolding.
When the Newspapers on the 18th November 2014 displayed the 250 color pages of paid advertising wishing the President on his birthday, that would have cost the Government of Sri Lanka Rs125M, as I don’t think any of them were paid with money earned by anyone! I realized that this unnatural act would result in something big, and I did not know what it might be at the time.
Immediately thereafter, when the President signed into law his intention to seek an unprecedented 3rd term, as expected, this mythical word called “the common opposition candidate” was who we were waiting for! Every name under the sun was bandied about, except the eventual candidate. It also showed how people viewed the abilities of their proposed candidates, and on reflection, I don’t believe anyone of them would have been able to deliver, as their negatives, all exceeded that of the eventual candidate.
I was not privy to who and how he was chosen, and eventually the real story will come out, as currently only dribs and drabs of those who wish to claim credit have been put as a matter of record. On the morning of the announcement, I had a call from my contacts in Polonnaruwa asking if it was true that Maithripala Sirisena was the candidate, and I, though I was aware said I did not know, especially as he was a died in the wool UNPer who said that if he was, then he would NOT work for the campaign, especially as under his leadership in Polonnaruwa the UNPers had suffered much harassment and discrimination in all areas of life. I can also vouch for that as I, from Minneriya and Hingurakgoda, where I used to farm, had to contend with much of the results of this suffering, of jobs not being given due to affiliations, and samurdhi benefits being denied for political revenge, and such like.
The two photos that I have included in this blog entry were taken when Maithripala Sirisena came to the New Town Hall on Friday, 21st November around 3.30pm, before he went into the Hall, to announce his candidature in the presence of Ex-President Chandrika Kumaratunga and a whole host of crossovers that afternoon.
I know many people will say that what happened after that is as they say is history, and I will elaborate some of the significant developments in the interim, with personal anecdotes.
We were eagerly expecting the 22 crossovers soon thereafter and that did not happen, and I heard many people grousing, why he was permitted to be the candidate, when he was not able to bring whom he had promised!
Then at the Christmas Party of one of the most prominent Businessmen in Sri Lanka, on the 5th, where even the current PM, Mr Ranil Wickremasinghe was a guest there was grave doubts about pulling this off. I had to assure the guests we could do so!
Then as the campaign got into full swing, we heard of the organizational chaos of the campaign HQ. Whilst this was not so at Sirikotha, it was an even bigger problem for us, where we just did not have the funds, to carry out even a percentage of the work we wanted to carry out, as the Party was just not given the funds by anyone, as I presume the big boys did not think we could win, and other expenses given priority.
Our part of the campaign had to be done on a shoestring, and we had to rely on the dedication of many of the young people who came to work with us. I was able to get a limited number of posters and campaign literature printed under the patronage of my boss, and so we had to be very careful in their delivery. I gather even the money that the Organizers of the UNP received were little and at the last moment, and not all received their allocations. Some were not able to get organized by that time.
CBK on the other hand had received a large chunk of change from a benefactor, which she used, like father Christmas to both buy loyalty and dole out for campaign expenses, though she did not have the organization we had, and therefore money was not used in my opinion productively. We could have done 10 times more productive work for the Rupee in that sense!!!
I was glad that the Candidate said that he would not try to compete with the President on cutouts, and the President had looted enough funds to run a very expensive campaign where even with the full use of the state resources, he was able to dole out money willy nilly for ads, posters, cut outs decorations and campaign offices (empty) at all corners, breaking all election rules, and use intimidatory tactics.
It is therefore under all these incredible odds, that we pulled this off. As the Independent Elections Observers report pointed out, the whole weight of Govt. infrastructure was used by MR, and despite the odds and a record turnout (81.5%) which could favor him as much as us, has given a firm indication of the people’s mandate for Change. I am getting a lot of calls now, from people who have not called all this time! Where were they when we needed their help desperately, and we had no one who would help us even with the chump change?