The Rajapaksa brothers are back with a bang, with Sri Lankan voters once again backing a decisive political leadership. Mahinda Rajapaksa will be sworn in as the Prime Minister for the fourth time after his party registered a landslide victory in the general election. Despite warnings from liberals about threats to freedom and liberty, the electorate turned a deaf ear, and the Sri Lanka Podujana Perumana (SLPP) won a total of 145 seats, just five seats short of a two-thirds majority in the 225-member Parliament.
The opposition, meanwhile, is in tatters. Former Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe’s United National Party (UNP) won only one seat. Samagi Jana Balawegaya (SJB)—the breakaway faction of the UNP—headed by Sajith Premadasa, emerged as the second largest party with 54 seats. The Tamil National Alliance (TNA), the party representing interests of the Tamil minorities, also lost several of their previous constituencies. It won 10 seats as opposed to the 16 in the previous Parliament.
The message from the electorate was clear. The government’s response to the pandemic was much appreciated by voters. Sri Lanka’s early lockdown had worked better than India’s. The island state now has 2,839 cases, with 2541 recoveries and the death toll stands only at 11. This record of the Rajapaksa government was compared with the performance of the previous administration’s response to another crisis. The 2019 Easter bombings found the government in shambles. Although India had warned Colombo of a terror attack during Easter, nothing was done. All this played on the mind of the electorate while voting for the Rajapaksa family.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi was the first world leader to congratulate Mahinda when it was clear that the SLPP was riding to victory. Mahinda immediately tweeted his thanks and promised to work closely with India.