Rajpal's Column

24th September 2000

The sticker that piqued some people no end

By Rajpal Abeynayake

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Sticks and stones may break your bones, but stickers can really break the spirit. The PA election apparatus has gone into a deep and stressful depression over the sticker issue.

Then, there is the profound sense of hurt. Or the breast beating that is emanating from the state controlled media for instance. The hurt feelings are about the so called attempts by the independent press to "paint the government as a spoiler in the sticker contretemps."

State press advocates bleat that the government did not attempt to arrest anybody concerned with the printing of stickers etc., Inference is that the state has not at any time tried to scuttle any of the Election Commissioner's special plans.

The government is therefore gung-ho, and not about to upset the Election Commissioner's applecart, if the state Goebbels division is to be believed.

But, why is the state then in this state of apoplexy? If the sticker issue is a non-issue, why take out reams in the rags to rail against it?

Whether arrest orders were made on the printers or not, or whether the Election Commissioner's house was surrounded by goons or otherwise, it remains a fact that the PA election machinery is vehemently against the security sticker device introduced by the Election Commissioner to ensure free and fair elections.

That's why the State media is being so schizophrenic on the ruckus. If the independent media is being unfair about the state's bona fide's on the security stickers, why talk about the sticker issue at all? Reason being that the PA thugs-corporation led election machinery is in a cold sweat --- and by extension the State media ditto -- about the security sticker device which might render askew the best laid plans of mice and Ministers in the PA campaign.

Some State media tracts have questioned the wisdom of getting the stickers printed at a private institution, and suggested that this is what is at the root of the objections about the stickers.

Considering what has been revealed about the lily- white government printer recently, the state tract writers can now at least come to terms with the patently obvious. The State apparatus including the printer is rigged, bozo, which is the whole point.

And if giving the printing job to a private man is not the answer, what is? (And to anyone form Mars who has not heard, the government Printer has banned two of his assistant's from entering the Government Printer's premises. One was a PA candidate, the other a close comrade of a government heavyweight.)

And with the announcement that nobody needs a sticker to go for elections, Ratnasiri Wickremenayake has added a comic touch to a combustible issue that begged for some comic relief.

Carrying a sicker to vote? We leave it to the honorable Prime Minister to figure that one for himself. But, next time, he might want to carry the water - mark on his thousand rupee note in his cubby-hole, while the note stays put in his shirt pocket.

The Prime Minister has also made the necessary nods at the Mahanayake's and other venerables.

He has set about explaining that the government has an ace under it's sleeve that's going to be plonked on the table to solve the ethnic conflict.

But, the Prime Minister, and the political dispensation that he represents, perhaps should better concentrate on the fact that a bigger problem that the North East crisis will be created by the course of action now being taken by the PA in it's approach to the polls.

The PA's moral justification for planning to steal the election is that the UNP did it.

That may have been correct, but the UNP did not do it the last time around, which is why the PA got to form a government even by a whisker.

In other words, the UNP may have rigged, but relented even by default.

The PA however still doesn't plan on letting up. There is no sense of embarrassment, and there is a great deal of transparency attached to the PA's "steal the election campaign.' The immediate reaction to the security sticker operation is tell tale as well. The sticker plan jeopardized the PA camp's "win by hook or by crook'' method.

The PA can prove it's election bona fides only by stopping the State engineered campaign to intimidating the opposition, and by not fighting or questioning the Election Commissioner and his bona findes. But the PA would do anything but this.

That's obvious from the way the President has worded her recent pep - talks and homilies to her party minions, regarding election related issues.

She has said that the PA "should not go on the rampage after winning the elections." Translation: That will not be necessary, because the rampaging should be done before the elections. (And you may add : "Please keep up the good work.")

No special cerebral effort is required to divine the real intent behind this Presidential message.

It has nothing to do with violence or any real commitment to prevent the occurrence of violence or intimidation of political opponents.

But, it has everything to do with strategy and psychology for winning an election that is a toss up between the PA and the opposition parties.

Saying "we have already won'' is the real intent behind those words of grace -- a psy-ops tactic that has been worn threadbare by all kinds of seasoned poll sharpers in all kinds of electoral battles.

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