Parties busy finalising candidates

Elections hopefuls bank on political track record, personal popularity and success on screen and battlefield to win votes

Political parties are in the process of finalising their nomination list for the upcoming North Central and Sabaragamuwa provincial council elections, with nominations due to close on Friday. The UPFA and JVP have announced their chief ministerial candidates, while the UNP will finalise its decision for a candidate over the weekend.

The JVP has announced that the party’s National List MP Wasantha Samarasinghe will be the chief ministerial (CM) candidate for the North Central Province, while student leader Chameera Koswatte will be the party’s candidate for the CM post in Sabaragamuwa. Meanwhile, teachers’ union leader Mahinda Jayasinghe will be the district leader for Kegalle and former PC member Indrananda de Silva will be district leader for Polonnaruwa.

Two former UPFA chief ministers, Berty Premalal Dissanayaka and Mahipala Herath, will contest as CM candidates for the NCP and Sabaragamuwa respectively.

The UNP’s nomination board was to meet yesterday. Major General (Retd) Janaka Perera has said he is prepared to contest for the CM post in the North Central Province, while actor Ranjan Ramanayaka has announced that he is ready to contest for CM in Sabaragamuwa Province.

But UNP General Secretary Tissa Attanayaka said that names for final approval will be put forward to the party only on July 1. Earlier, Upul Shantha Sannasgala was set to contest on behalf of the UNP as CM for Sabaragamuwa, but subsequently announced he was not contesting.

Mr. Attanayaka said that both Mr Sannasgala and Major Perera had been threatened by the government, and that Mr. Sannasgala, for this and other personal reasons, had decided to back out of the elections. “Mr. Sannasgala is one of the suitable candidates, but there are more names that we will publish very soon”, he said.

Mr. Sannasgala dismissed claims that tax issues were the reason for his turning down the UNP’s invitation to contest for the CM post for Sabaragamuwa. Speaking to The Sunday Times, Mr. Sannasgala said: “Some people might be saying it’s because of tax reasons, legal issues, pressure from the wife, and so on. But I personally decided that contesting this election was not a wise political decision. This decision has come as a surprise to most people, because so many are struggling to get the CM post.”
Major General (Retd.) Janaka Perera, who had been in discussions with the UNP leadership, told The Sunday Times that he was confident of being chosen as the UNP chief ministerial candidate for the North Central Province. “If I’m chosen to be the CM candidate, I am sure of victory. I have many a time led towards victory on the battlefield,” he said.

Mr. Perera said his soldiers were his resources and wealth on the battlefield, while his resources and wealth in the forthcoming election included not only soldiers but also farmers, labourers and professionals.“With the blessings of the Triple Gem, I have no doubts about a victory ahead.”

UNP Katana organiser Ranjan Ramanayake said he had informed the UNP about his willingness to contest for Sabaragamuwa. This follows Upul Shantha Sannasgala’s decision not to contest. He said he believed he had a strong chance of winning, based on his popularity as both an actor and as a politician.

Citing world-famous political figures who had started out as actors, including India’s M. G. Ramachandran and America’s Ronald Reagan and Arnold Schwarzenegger, Mr. Ramanayake said he was confident of getting the votes of his fans.

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