Anti Sarath Fonseka posters in Moratuwa
Last week the state TV channels showed ‘Last King Of Scotland’, about Idi Amin. Trying to raise fears that General (Rtd) Sarath Fonseka would become a military dictator, I hear. Which is odd. Now these posters from a ‘youth group’ (Namal Rajapaksa’s, I think) seem to allege that Fonseka will unleash a blood-letting like that which crushed the JVP insurrection. Also a bit, far fetched.
This is, I think, insane fear mongering. Sarath may have dictatorial tendencies, but to insinuate that he would repeat the carnage of the JVP insurrections is insane. For one, the modern JVP is on his side, and for another, there is no insurrection to put down. It is just fear mongering against the idea of a military background, and I think a bit grasping at straws.
Mahinda’ s problem now is that he blew his load a bit early, blanketing the country with posters, hoardings and cutouts right out of the gate. Now many of those things have been taking down and there’s actually a competitive Sarath presence in parts of the country, and the city. There is still much more Mahinda for sure, but there is less than there was before.
Momentum and attention is largely on Sarath’s side and has been for much of the campaign. His candidacy was all the buzz, then his gaffes, now his actual competitiveness. Mahinda is campaigning on ‘promised delivered’, but a second term is not necessarily a reward as much as a new set of obligations. Which Mahinda, unlike the first campaign, has not clearly defined.
Sri Lanka is not a country where not many would ask for more of the same, but that’s effectively what Mahinda is promoting. Even in his last campaign he was advocating for a big change, so it’s strange to see him in this position.
Mahinda will still probably win. He is damn strong, and a lot of people do support him, for what I consider rational reasons. However, his campaign seems to sense that the race has tightened and they’re trying to drive Sarath’s unfavorables up. Mahinda’s corruption perception is not really going to go down, and many people do think he’ll be a dictator in the second term. Instead of fighting that, they seem to be trying to tar SF with the same brush.
The problem is that the corruption numbers they’ve dug up are small against the scale of perceived corruption in the MR regime. Also, the allegation that SF will get in and randomly kill 60,000 people (JVPers?) are a bit far fetched. Well, really far fetched. Mahinda is still ahead, but this seems a bit desperate.