Talk at the cafe Spectator

Bogols scour the world for propaganda

Staff in Sri Lanka diplomatic missions overseas had to do overtime in the recent weeks. All because their Foreign Minister Rohita Bogollagama, who is touted in polls campaign posters as "one who won the world over to our country" had given them a task.

He asked all missions to send him before March 14, all pictures, news releases, newspaper reports and other material related to meetings he held with leaders in those countries. It was needed badly as campaign material.

A circular from him said, "All Missions are kindly requested to E-mail photos with details/descriptions of visits undertaken to your county/countires of accreditation by Hon. Rohitha Bogollagama, Minister of Foreign Affairs since he assumed duties as Foreign Minister, from 2007- to date. These photos are required by 15th March 2010."

The Lakshman Kadirgamar Centre for International Relations and Strategic Studies has become one of the centres for Mr. Bogollagama's election campaign strategy. His staff was pouring over a plethora of material, most among them, press releases issued by the Foreign Ministry where Bogollagama is the cynosure.

"The highly educated and erudite" (as his campaign slogan goes) Minister however shied away from a TV debate on a private channel at the last minute with a JVP MP and a UNP MP; so much for his courage and his erudition.

Midnight voice mail

A state-backed mobile operator has angered its subscribers by providing its list of subscribers to a leading ruling party candidate.

The man, whose party is a constituent of the UPFA, is directing voice cuts over mobile phones to subscribers asking they vote for him.

One of them received the message when he was woken up at 1.30 a.m. Alas, that's one vote the candidate wont be getting.

Governor's parties at public expense

The governor of the bankers' bank is having a whale of a time throwing parties for batches of businessmen and professionals.

Hand picked groups of over fifty at a time are invited for a cocktail and finger food galore at his official residence. Guests end up having a stomach full not only with the drinks and eats but also with a lecture on governance and his own achievements.

What a way to spend public funds whilst praying for austerity!!

Politics thicker than family ties

The intra-party squabbles within the UPFA have reached new heights during this election campaign.
One of the battles was between the uncle and nephew - Minister A.H.M.Fowzie and Azad Sally contesting on the UPFA ticket in the Colombo district.

Mr. Fowzie had organized a meeting at Henry Pedris Park , Thimbirigasyaya on Thursday and invited President Mahinda Rajapaksa for the event. However, the President did not turn up. The move naturally made Mr. Sally uncomfortable.

He has succeeded in inviting the President for his meeting in Hulftsdorp yesterday. Supporters of Mr. Fowzie are watching to see if Mr. Rajapaksa does attend. If so, they want to invite him again.

Candidate hit for four

The inaugural polls rally of the UPFA in Getambe, Kandy ended on an unpleasant note last week.
Sections of the gathering jeered when Minister Dr. Sarath Amunugama's name was mentioned by President Mahinda Rajapaksa. The conduct prompted him to speak on the need for discipline among party supporters.

Later that night, President Rajapaksa summoned all candidates from the Kandy district to the President's House in Kandy. He warned that getting the highest number of votes would not make anyone eligible to be named as a minister.

Turning to Minister Mahindananda Aluthgamage, President Rajapaksa had asked whether it was his supporters who had jeered when Dr. Amunugama's name was mentioned. This was part of the manape (or preference vote) tussles. Minister Aluthgamage strongly denied it had anything to do with his supporters.

President Rajapaksa was to point out that the jeering came from a group holding placards bearing number 4, designated to Mr. Aluthgamage at the elections. The President has now called for the video tapes to ascertain the truth. He doesn't seem to believe his Minister at face value.

Cool Ranil gets hot under collar

The March heat had got into Opposition United National Party leader Ranil Wickremesinghe who was all hot and bothered on Friday.

His National List hopeful Harsha de Silva had invited the press corps for interviews with him but not briefed the journos that his leader was wanting to be interviewed on the party manifesto.

The journalists had their own questions to ask, but the leader would have none of it. He wanted to be interviewed on the party manifesto. Seated crossed legged on a sofa, with books on his lap, he was furious when he realised that none of the journos had actually briefed themselves with the three separate 2-page manifestos the party released last week.

They were asked to read the manifesto and come back, while the National List hopeful was given an earful for wasting everyone's time.

Police paint temple blue

JanathaVimukthi Peramuna's former Gamapaha district parliamentarian Vijitha Herath set a poser for Police Chief Mahinda Balasuriya on Friday. It came at the weekly meeting held by Elections Commissioner Dayananda Dissanayake with representatives of political parties.

He said an election monitoring group at the January 26 presidential poll had written to Mr. Balasuriya about the towns of Kiribathgoda and Peliyagoda being bedecked with blue flags. Mr. Balausirya had called for a report from the Superintendent of Police in charge of the area and written back.

According to the letter sent to the monitoring group by Mr. Balasuriya, the SP in question had said there was an annual festival at a Hindu Temple in Peliyagoda. The blue flags had been for that occasion. Mr. Herath, however, insisted that it was related to the polls campaign and asked the Police Chief not to let it happen again when parliamentary polls take place on April 8.

Ban's advisor: A good job for son

The topic of discussion in the dovecotes of power was the move by UN Secretary General Ban ki-Moon to appoint a panel to advise him on accountability issues in Sri Lanka. This was during the final stages of the separatist war last year.

One senior figure quipped: "Sir ara amathi eyage lamaya UN ekata daaganna hadanawaane. May apey ravula pichchenakota eya suruttu patthu karaganna hadanawa." (Sir, that Minister is trying to get his son into the UN. This is like lighting a cigar when the beard is burning).

Another important personality added: Ara ki-Moon ge expert committee ekata eyage lamayawa athul karaganna, ethakota apey prashna okkoma iwara karaganna puluwan kiyala." (Get his son into Ban ki-Moon's expert committee. Then all problems will be over).

- Jamis Banda

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