Columns - Double Take

Mrs Anumaana learns how not to contest Local Government Elections

By Lasanda Kurukulasuriya

Mrs Anumaana has had such an earful about the Local Government Elections lately that she fears she will be too fed up with the whole business to even cast her vote when the time comes around. She has had to listen non-stop to her son, on the one hand, and Mrs Aandupaksa on the other, going on about the elections.

Mrs Aandupaksa has persuaded Sunil to contest the upcoming elections. Sunil has agreed, his idea being to enter national politics and acquire a brand new Prado with CD, DVD, Bluetooth, TV, 3-way camera, leather seats and sun roof when he becomes a Member of Parliament and gets his duty-free vehicle permit. He says Mrs Aandupaksa has promised to help him in his election campaign. What with all this discussion going on over the phone Mrs Anumaana feared she would be unable to meet her phone bill at the end of the month. She also noted with alarm how his campaign budget estimates seemed to escalate with each passing day.

Sunil is supremely confident that he will get nomination under the mandatory 40 per cent youth quota stipulated for political parties contesting the election. Thereafter he has high hopes of being elected to one of the 3904 local government member positions that are up for grabs around the country. With Mrs Aandupaksa’s support he thinks he can successfully compete with some 5200 others who will be contesting from his party, which will be fielding candidates for every one of the 301 councils to which new members are to be elected. In fact Sunil has been trying hard to persuade Mrs Anumaana too to contest. He argues that women seem to be avoiding the contest in droves, and therefore she was sure to be selected by party chiefs eager to show constituents that they were for ‘equal opportunity.’ But Mrs Anumaana has some doubts on this score.

Mrs Anumaana noticed Sunil practising his most winning smile in front of the mirror each morning. It appears he intends to start house-to-house campaigning in his neighbourhood very soon. Much to his mother’s consternation he is planning to print and paste a large number of posters of himself on buildings and at public places. It looks as if the cut-outs he has in mind would put Bollywood to shame. When Mrs Anumaana expressed some doubts as to whether these activities were lawful, Sunil’s response was that Mrs Aandupaksa’s Podi Malli is a very high-up in the ‘Service’ and therefore he had nothing to worry about. With no ‘Independent Commission’ around Mrs Aandupaksa had said she could influence the ‘relevant people’ and everything would be smooth sailing.

Ceremonial visits to the temple, kovil, mosque and church have already been planned, so that prospective voters will know Sunil has the blessings of all the devas in the pantheon. Mrs Aandupaksa (whose malli is chairman of the Sri Lanka Rupavehicle Corporation) has assured him that a TV crew would be in full attendance when he makes these visits, so that any who miss out on his live performance can see him on prime time TV that evening. All constituents would then realize what a good and pious man he is, and vote for him. For her part, Mrs Anumaana has been left speechless by this sudden religiosity displayed by her son.

As far as she could remember he had not stepped inside a temple for the last 10 years.Sunil has rallied numerous friends to support him in his campaign. They have proposed various strategies they say would increase his chances of success. It appears Sunil is not the only young man in the area planning to contest the local council elections on the same party ticket. Mrs Anumaana noticed that lately Sunil has been getting some strange phone calls that made him hang up abruptly. She also noticed some unfamiliar characters hanging around near their house. For reasons still unclear to Mrs Anumaana, it seems Sunil is now on two minds as to whether to go ahead with his plan of contesting the Local Government Elections. But perhaps that’s just as well, she figures ...

The writer is a senior freelance journalist

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