FB   
 
Powered bysps
        Society for Policy Studies
 
 

 
Follow the Negombo example
Posted:Jan 11, 2018
 
Print
Share
  
increase Font size decrease Font size
 
The photo caption appearing in a vernacular newspaper showing candidates representing all major political parties at the upcoming Local Government Elections taking a pledge at a church service in Negombo to refrain from violence during the election campaign, no doubt, would have warmed the cockles of all those who saw it who desire a change in the violent political culture in this country.
 
In a welcome development and rare moment of camaraderie between fierce political opponents, all candidates from the UNP, SLFP and SLPP, together with their area leaders, gave an undertaking to conduct their respective election campaigns in a violence free atmosphere, at the Service, at St.Mary's Church, in Negombo.
 
Delivering a homily to the candidates and their supporters Rev. Fr. Siswan de Croos, Head of the Cardinal Cooray Spiritual Counselling Centre in Tammita, Negombo requested them all to dedicate themselves to conduct their respective election campaigns free of threats, intimidation and other forms of violent activity. They should also conduct themselves in exemplary fashion during the election period, on the election day, and, also, the post election phase. He went on to state that those who win should welcome the defeated in a friendly manner and neither the victorious nor the defeated should act in a manner that will cause pain of mind to each other. “You all should pledge at this moment to carryout your task of faithfully serving the people.”
 
Among those present at the service were former deputy ministers Sarath Kumara Gunaratne, Nimal Lanza, UNP Provincial Councillor Royce Fernando and former Negombo Mayor Dayan Lanza. It is reported that they all mingled together in a cordial and convivial atmosphere after the church service.
 
This development will be doubly welcomed by the residents of Negombo since the area at one time was a hotbed of political violence. That the candidates have taken the unusual step of convening a church service to make a collective pledge to conduct a violence free election campaign is indicative of a genuine commitment towards this end. It will also help a great deal in maintaining the peace down the ranks, at grassroots level. This is because today whole villages are divided on political lines and the antagonism has even spread to their daily lives and activities.
 
Hopefully, elsewhere too candidates in the fray would take similar pledges in the temples, mosques and kovils pledging their commitment to conduct their election campaigns free of violence and thuggery. The outcome is bound to create a congenial atmosphere during the campaign, with candidates also being more moderate in attacking their rivals in the fray. Ideally, the precedent by political party candidates at the mini poll in Negombo should be followed by those at the top echelons, at all major elections in the future. The lead in this respect could be provided by Tourism Development Minister John Amaratunga who is also Minister of Christian Affairs. It would go a long way in bringing together all the warring factions in his Wattala electorate. This also could see the departure of the type of intemperate language being used to target opponents, mostly by the top leaders of political parties. Also, ideally, such pledges of the type witnessed in Negombo should include a commitment to strictly adhere to election laws.
 
This, while making the Election Commission's job that much easier would also ease the pressure on the law enforcement. Already the number of election related incidents are on the rise and the situation could worsen as D’ day draws near. Since the poll is being conducted on the old ward system, the incidents, hopefully, would be much less this time around than before. But at least Negombo will come unscathed in this respect, since vows made in church are not known to be made lightly by the Catholic community.
 
Ideally such pledges for a violent free poll should be taken by the main leaders of political parties in unison. This, while sending a clear message to the rank and file would also help change the contentious, confrontational political culture in this country. With the PR system now out of the way this violent political culture, hopefully, will be a thing of the past.
 
The quality of the candidates too is a factor that will determine the turn an election campaign could take. If bad eggs are nominated by party leaders, then the campaign is bound to turn violent, notwithstanding pledges made before the altar. Regrettably, there are allegations from the Election Monitors that underworld figures have been nominated by all major political parties at this election, as well. One would have thought that with the return to the old electoral system the need for nominating thugs, drug dealers, bootleggers, cattle rustlers and other undesirables would have come to an end. The public would also have hoped for the return of educated cultured and genuine servants of the people to whom politics was not a means to enrich themselves. But it appears that the violent political culture has got so deeply entrenched in the system it would take a long time to break with the trend.
 
 
 
 
 
Print
Share
  
increase Font size decrease Font size
 

Disclaimer: South Asia Monitor does not accept responsibility for the views or ideology expressed in any article, signed or unsigned, which appears on its site. What it does accept is responsibility for giving it a chance to appear and enter the public discourse.
Comments (Total Comments 0) Post Comments Post Comment
Review
 
 
 
 
spotlight image Thailand will be the coordinating country for India within ASEAN from July. In an exclusive interview with INDIA REVIEW & ANALYSIS, the fortnightly journal of the Society for Policy Studies (SPS),  Thailand’s Ambassador to India, Chutintorn Gongsakdi, gave a comprehensive view of bilateral relations and
 
read-more
The struggle for autonomy has been going on within the Indian Institutes of Management (IIMs) from their inception, writes P.D. Rai
 
read-more
As India and the 10-nation ASEAN bloc culminate the commemoration of 25 years of their dialogue partnership with a summit in New Delhi January 25 that all the leaders will attend, India is laying out the crimson carpet to ensure that the first ever Republic Day celebrations at which 10 ASEAN leaders will be Chief Guests, jointly, is a
 
read-more
Afghanistan's leaders have asked the Security Council to mobilise international pressure on Pakistan to stop supporting terrorists, United States Permanent Representative said on Wednesday. Speaking to reporters here after the Council's weekend visit to Afghanistan and meetings with the nation's leaders, Haley said, &l
 
read-more
As the Myanmar government’s violent policy towards its Rohingya Muslims drew increasing international condemnation in 2016, the country’s sometime icon of democracy, Aung San Suu Kyi, declined to speak out for the persecuted minority.
 
read-more
“We have a very solid commitment to climate action,” he said. “We cannot be defeated by climate change and we are not yet winning this battle” and the biggest victims of climate change are the developing countries that are members of the Group of 77 (G77).
 
read-more
In a bid to promote trilateral innovation and business opportunities between the US, India, and Israel, Israel-India Technology Group has launched a trilateral fund of $50 million. "We ar...
 
read-more
Column-image

The Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) has for the first time claimed responsibility for the assassination of former Pakistani Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto in a new book in written by Taliban leader Abu Mansoor Asim Mufti Noor Wali.

 
Column-image

Title: Salafi-Jihadism -The History of an Idea; Author: Shiraz Maher; Publisher: Penguin Random House UK: Pages: 292; Price: Rs 499

 
Column-image

A Review of Anatomy of Failure by Harlan K. Ullman (Naval Institute Press, 242 pages)

 
Column-image

Title: The Beckoning Isle; Author: Abhay Narayan Sapru; Publisher: Wisdom Tree; Pages: 157; Price: Rs 245

 
Column-image

Title: India Now And In Transition; Editor: Atul Thakur ; Publisher: Niyogi Books: Pages: 448; Price: Rs 599