Posters, cut-outs and promises dominate launch of LG polls campaigns

Parties, Independents and their ‘dependants’ come knocking sans election manifestos and credibility
By Mirudhula Thambiah

Political parties and Independent groups have launched their election campaigns for the October 8 polls for 17 Municipal Councils (MC), five Pradeshiya Sabhas (PS) and 1 Urban Council (UC). With five more weeks left, posters and cut-outs of candidates dominate the landscape in every municipality where the polls are scheduled,.

Candidates have launched their house-to-house campaigns as usual, but the election manifestos of the mayoral candidates are still pending, and are expected to be released within the coming week.

The Colombo Municipal Council (CMC) which was captured by an independent group and was under the mayoralty of Uvaiz Mohammed Imtiaz in 2006, will have a total of 53 members elected by 393,085 voters. The election campaign of UPFA mayoral candidate Milinda Moragoda will be on the theme of “Together we’ll make Colombo a centre of excellence”.

Mr. Moragoda will be launching his election manifesto on 12 key points tomorrow followed by house-to-house meetings and pocket meetings. He will also conduct campaigns sans posters and cutouts, to avoid environmental pollution.

The Sunday Times learns that the President will be addressing some of the meetings of the UPFA candidates in the Colombo District, during the latter part of the campaign. The UNP campaign programme for the Colombo district will be launched today. The general theme of the UNP for the forthcoming elections would be on the anti-corruption drive.

The UNP’s election campaign for the CMC will be under the leadership of Opposition Leader Ranil Wickremesinghe, Dehiwala-Mt. Lavinia Municipal Council (DMMC) will be led by Parliamentarian Joseph Michael Perera and Kotte-Sri Jayawardhanapura will be under the leadership of Parliamentarian Harsha De Silva. Likewise, campaigns in other municipalities are also launched under the leadership of key party members.

The Party Leader will also be addressing some select general meetings during the campaigns
CMC UNP mayoral candidate A.J.M. Muzammil told the Sunday Times that his main theme for the election campaign would focus on better living conditions for Colombo’s citizens. There will be 100 pocket meetings covering the 260 polling booths within Colombo.

“Our leader is keen on more house-to-house campaigns to take the message personally”, he said.
There are approximately 100,000 households within the CMC, and we will be visiting them at least twice before the elections.

Mr. Muzammil said he would release his election manifesto titled ‘New City Plan for Colombo’ in mid-September. JVP mayoral candidate Sunil Watagala told the Sunday Times that their house-to-house campaigns have already started and he is looking forward to conducting pocket meetings within the CMC area.

“Our’s would be a focused campaign against corruption within the municipality, against the evacuation of slum dwellers, and the other issues affecting the area.” Mr. Watagala said. SLMC’s mayoral candidate for Colombo, former Parliamentarian Shafeek Rajabdeen, told the Sunday Times that his election manifesto already released, has 10 points, for the development of the municipality.

“We being in alliance with the government, we will deliver relief by advising the government not to evacuate slum dwellers without proper notice and to develop their livelihoods. We will ensure that we work towards the betterment of the municipality. We will come under the banner of one people, one nation and that we are all Sri Lankans,” he said.

He said the SLMC will have pocket meetings and five public rallies with general meetings targeting Colombo Central. DPF Leader and its Colombo mayoral candidate Mano Ganesan said his party has started the election campaign with house-to-house campaigns, along with pocket meetings in the future as well.

“My motto on material development is ‘development with humanism’. Development with humanism is to beautify the lives of the city’s citizens, which will take precedence over the infrastructure beautification programmes. It did not happen under the last UNP rule until 2006, and under the UPFA’s de-facto administration for the last five years,” he said .

The DMMC, with 29 members and 132,903 voters was secured by the UNP at the last elections under the mayoralty of Sunethra Ranasinghe. DMMC UNP mayoral candidate Sunethra Ranasinghe told the Sunday Times that she has already fulfilled the required target as former mayor, and hence, is confident of achieving her target this time too.

“I will be having pocket meetings at grassroots levels, along with house-to-house campaigns at least thrice before the elections. I will do my canvassing among the villagers of my area. I believe that pocket meetings will reach the people more than general meetings would,” she said.

The Kandy MC (KMC) which was under UNP rule during the last regime, has 74,073 voters to elect 24 members. KMC UNP mayoral candidate former Diyawadana Nilame Niranjan Wijeratne said that, in order to launch his campaign, campaign offices will be opened today by Parliamentarian Lakshman Kiriella, with the main theme being an environment-friendly Kandy city.

He said his election manifesto will be released next week, and that his campaign would be based on house-to-house meetings and pocket meetings. “Since there is a major problem in waste disposal, as a mayoral candidate, I’m trying to canvass the support of all the people to develop Kandy city,” he added.
KMC JVP mayoral candidate Anura Kumara Gonawala said his focus on the campaign would be to eradicate corruption, to overcome other problems within the municipality and to create a well developed administration.

“Garbage disposal is one of the main problems of the Kandy municipality, therefore, we will conduct our canvassing by educating the people on the problems, in order to achieve our target,” he added.
The Matale Municipal Council (MMC) which was under the UPFA has 26,587 voters electing 13 members.

UPFA mayoral candidate and former MMC mayor Hilmy Mohammed, said that his campaign is going according to plan. “Our target is to make Matale a green city, and we have done a large amount of work under the 4-year plan. New large bus stands have been built within Matale city. We will have a car park and a shopping complex on the old police station land. Therefore, since we have achieved our targets for the betterment of the people, we expect to win the elections,” he said.

He said that his team has already started house-to-house campaigns and pocket meetings.
MMC UNP mayoral candidate Daljith Aluvihare said that he is leading a good and new team this time and is confident of winning the elections. He said his team will start campaigning with house-to-house visits from tomorrow.

“Our focus while canvassing will be on corruption within the council, and we will educate the people in an orderly manner, so that, if they wish, they can vote us in,” he said. The Matara Municipality which was under the UPFA has 51,895 voters to elect 15 councillors.

UPFA mayoral candidate, Sopinandra Handunge told the Sunday Times that he is confident of winning the council and that his campaign has already started. UNP’s mayoral candidate and former Matara mayor Upul Nishantha, said that his aim is to make Matara the best city in the island.

“Our candidates have a lot of experience, therefore, I believe we can achieve the target, and we are carrying out a focused campaign from the grassroots level,” he said.

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