Sri Lanka on Thursday evening gave its mandate to the Rajapaksa family as the election results were announced. The Sri Lanka Podujan Peramuna (SLPP) won 145 seats in the election that took place on Wednesday. The number is just five seats short of the two-third majority. A more than 70 percent turnout was seen despite the Covid-19 pandemic. The election was supposed to happen in April, but was postponed two times due to the pandemic.
After the election results being announced, Mahinda Rajapaksa is set to take oath as Prime Minister from his brother and President Gotabaya Rajapaksa. The junior Rajapaksa was elected as the President in November 2019, with 52 percent votes. The massive election victory has not only given the glory to the Rajapaksa brothers, but also has given them the required power base to operate and make constitutional changes. The intended changes may include making Mahinda Rajapaksa to stay as the Prime Minister.
The victory can be apparently attributed to the handling of Covid-19 pandemic by the SLPP. However, there is another aspect which cannot be ignored. That is the shaken faith of public in the previous government, especially after the Easter Sunday attack of 2019 that killed more than 260 and injured over 500.
The political crisis of Sri Lanka of 2018
Mahinda Rajapaksa was in power in Sri Lanka since 2005 till he lost elections in 2015. In 2015, Maithripala Sirisena formed a coalition with Ranil Wickremasinghe to oust Rajapaksa who was apparently becoming too powerful. However, the coalition started to show signs of weakness within two years.
In 2018, then President Sirisena got a chance and tried to sack Wickremasinghe from the post of PM. He also announced that the new PM will be Rajapaksa. The parliament was not only left in chaos, but also the SC was involved. The whole row of events led to a disbelief in the public about the government. And the rest was done by the terrorist attack of 2019.
Sirisena fought election from SLPP ticket this year and won with a massive vote share.
What lies ahead for Sri Lanka?
Now that the Rajapaksa brothers have power in their hands, there are chances that they amend the constitution to sustain this power for longer. Although, the party leaders emphasize on their commitment towards development, suspicion is still there.
The future of Sri Lanka now lies in the hands of Rajapaksa family. The Rajapaksas are known for their crackdown of Tamil rebels in 2009. Though appreciated for ending a decades-long civil war, yet doubted for the human rights violations that took place.
Rajapaksa’s win has an implication for India as well. he has always been seen as a confidant of China. China has invested heavily in various infrastructures in Sri Lanka, including the Hambantota port. Though, he still maintains “India is family while China is a friend.” PM Modi also called Rajapaksa to congratulate him on his win.
Former PM Ranil Wickremasinghe lost his constituency. His party United National Party (UNP) was reduced to 1 seat from 106 in last election.
The second largest party was Samagi Jana Balawegaya (SJB) led by Sajith Premadasa with 54 seats and 20 percent vote share. SJB is a faction of UNP. The Tamil National Alliance secured only 10 seats, a setback for them.
SLPP has a vote share of 59 percent with just one competitor – SJB with 23 percent.