The man behind
Annapillai K.M.S. Rajendran, 55, has what it takes
to be Colombo’s next Mayor after his independent group backed
by the UNP won last Saturday’s elections for the Colombo Municipal
But he says he wants to play a limited role in
politics while keeping to his original intention of serving the
people to the best of his ability.
|Independent group leader Annapillai K.M.S.
Pic. by Gemunu Wellage
For Mr. Rajendran, a businessman from Modera, it
was sweet revenge from the UNP when he consented to the controversial
arrangement with the UNP whereby the Independent group agreed to
withdraw its winning list and substitute it with that of the UNP.
“In 1997 when I decided to contest under
an independent group it was because I was not happy about the way
the UNP was serving the people. At that time I thought to myself
that one day the UNP will have to come back to me. But I did not
expect the party to come back to me in this manner”, Mr. Rajendran
Though a legal battle over the issue of substituting
the names is likely to emerge, Mr. Rajendran believes it is the
UNP members who should be allowed to run the CMC as it is their
supporters who voted for the Independent group 3.
“I have entrusted the matter to UNP leader
Ranil Wickremesinghe to decide as to who should come into the council
as it is the will of the people that the UNP should control the
CMC,” Mr. Rajendran, who has been avoiding the press and some
of his supporters, told The Sunday Times in an interview.
Mr. Rajendran said his links with the UNP goes
way back to the 1940’s when one of his relatives Veeraiya
Kulandavel contested the Colombo Central ward and he himself has
backed and campaigned for former Mayors the late V.A. Sugathadasa
and the late Vincent Perera and was also closely associated with
the late President Ranasinghe Premadasa and Christy Perera.
Mr. Rajendran said he had been a busy man since
the nomination list of his independent group made up mostly of UNPers
was handed in and accepted while the UNP list was rejected.
He said his group members have been having several
rounds of discussions with senior UNP members and claims the UPFA
approached him asking him not to back the UNP.
Mr. Rajendran said he was even offered cash incentives.
“If I thought only of the money I would
have taken the money and got away,” he said.
The pressure on Mr. Rajendran appears to be continuing.
He said the pressure was so intense that even two different lists
were sent to the Assistant Commissioner of Elections nominating
Colombo’s Mayor and Deputy Mayor.
“On Wednesday we had sent the names of Uvais
Mohamed Imithiaz and Udawatte Chandrasena for the post of Mayor
and Deputy Mayor, but later on I sent the names of Ramanathan Ganesh
and Jayasinghe Arachchige Sepala Wasantha for Mayor and Deputy Mayor.
I had forgotten the names had already been submitted,” he
claimed. Mr. Rajendran denied that the two sets of names were sent
because of two varying instructions that were received from two
UNP groups. Eventually the names of Messrs. Imithiaz and Chandrasena
were accepted by the Elections Commissioner and gazetted.
But Mr. Rajendran as the leader of the Independent
group had the authority of naming himself as the Mayor or at least
demanding that he be named a council member.
“I am not interested in getting into the
council. If that was the case when our Independent group won the
elections in 1997 as the leader I could have easily got myself into
the CMC, but I sent in another person. Again in 2002 when our group
won one seat another person was nominated”, he said.
In 1997 his group received 2,162 votes and in
2002 it received 4,629 votes. Mr. Rajendran said his main ambition
was to serve the people of Modera, as he had been doing in the past
and would continue doing it though he opted to remain out of the
“Whenever persons have been arrested I have
intervened and got them released. Whenever people have problems
with the police I intervene. We even help people to get their work
attended to by government department. That’s how we gained
votes as an independent group”, he explained.
However he said he was not sure how his party
would handle the CMC administration in the event a legal battle
delayed the UNP plans to take control of the council.