Rajapaksa back at top in Lanka politics with resounding victory

Sri Lanka's Prime Minister Mahinda Rajapaksa (C) greets Buddhist monks at his home in the southern town of Tangalle on August 7, 2020, after the Sri Lanka's parliamentary election results. - Sri Lanka's ruling Rajapaksa brothers have secured a two-thirds majority in parliamentary elections, giving them powers to change the constitution and unravel democratic safeguards, final results showed on August 7. (Photo by LAKRUWAN WANNIARACHCHI / AFP)



Mahinda Rajapaksa will be sworn in as Sri Lanka’s Prime Minister for the fourth time on Sunday after his party registered a landslide victory in the general election, securing two-thirds majority in Parliament needed to amend the Constitution to further consolidate the powerful Rajapaksa family’s grip on power.

The Sri Lanka People’s Party (SLPP), led by Prime Minister Mahinda Rajapaksa, won in 145 constituencies, bagging a total of 150 seats with its allies, a two-thirds majority in the 225-member Parliament, according to the results announced by the election commission on Friday.

It won all but four of the 22 electoral districts on offer, polling 6.8 million votes (59.9 per cent).

The 74-year-old Prime Minister Mahinda thanked the Sri Lankan people for putting their faith in the SLPP and said that the country will not stand disappointed during its tenure.

“Heartfelt gratitude to all SriLankans for placing their trust in President Gotabaya Rajapaksa, myself and the PodujanaParty and voting for the ‘Saubhagye Dakkama’ election manifesto in overwhelming numbers. We will ensure Sri Lanka will not stand disappointed during our tenure,” he said.

Mahinda will be sworn in as the new prime minister for the fourth time on Sunday at a ceremony at the historic Buddhist temple of Kelaniya, a north Colombo suburb, according to an official statement.

He created a record in polling over 500,000 individual preference votes, the highest ever recorded by a candidate in the history of elections.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi was among the first world leaders to congratulate Mahinda on the outcome of the elections and said the two sides will work together to further advance all areas of bilateral cooperation and to take their special ties to ever newer heights.

“Thank you PM @narendramodi for your congratulatory phone call. With the strong support of the people of #SriLanka, I look forward to working with you closely to further enhance the long-standing cooperation between our two countries. Sri Lanka & India are friends & relations,” Mahinda tweeted.

The Rajapaksa family has dominated Sri Lankan politics for two decades. Mahinda was previously president, from 2005 to 2015.

Meanwhile, the biggest casualty from the election outcome was the United National Party (UNP) of former prime minister Ranil Wickremesinghe.

The UNP managed to win only one seat and that too came thanks to the cumulative votes polled nationally. The country’s grand old party failed to win a single seat from any of the 22 districts.

Its leader and four-time prime minister was unseated for the first time since he entered Parliament in 1977. Wickremesinghe failed to win from Colombo district as his party finished fourth in most constituencies.

The UNP only polled 249,435 votes or just two per cent of the total votes and was relegated to the fifth position nationally.

Wickremesinghe’s former deputy and presidential candidate Sajith Premadasa, who had broken away from the UNP to form his own party Samagi Jana Balawegaya (SJB), has done well by winning 55 seats with its main Muslim party ally bagging it the solitary district win in the eastern port district of Trincomalee.