Election guidelines not gazetted so that SLPP campaign can continue unhindered: AKD
ECONOMYNEXT – The government deliberately chose not to gazette the pandemic guidelines issued for the upcoming parliamentary polls as laws in order to continue its election campaign unhindered, National People’s Power (NPP) leader Anura Kumara Dissanayake said.
Speaking to reporters this morning, Dissanayake, who is also leader of the Janatha Vimukthi Peramuna (JVP), accused the government of playing down the threat of COVID-19 and creating a false sense of security among the public.
The ruling Sri Lanka Podujana Peramuna (SLPP), he said, had since the beginning of the pandemic tried to convince the Election Commission that the situation was under control and that life had returned to normal, in an attempt to persuade the commission to hold the election as early as possible.
Once a date for the election was eventually settled on, close to a month ago, the commission issued a set of health guidelines to be followed by parties and candidates when campaigning. However, Dissanayake said, the commission has no authority to enforce such laws, due to the failure on the part of the government to gazette these guidelines as laws.
It is Director-General of Health Services Dr Anil Jasinghe who has the authority to enforce such laws through the quarantine act, the JVP leader said, noting however that it was through no fault of the health authorities but rather a deliberate omission from the political leadership.
This is because the ruling party’s approach to election campaigning, he said, is performing political theatre in front of mass gatherings that number in the thousands, rather than meeting people and informing them of their policies.
“If these guidelines were gazetted the government would not have been able to campaign in this way,” he added.
Dissanayake also accused the government of giving prominence to COVID-19 recoveries over the infected numbers when reporting about the pandemic in order to make the public forget about the dangers of the virus.
President Gotabaya Rajapaksa, he further said, who had instructed SLPP candidates not to use his image in election posters, has started taking part in canvassing campaigns.
“These are not election rallies, since generally, if they were rallies, he should address the audience. I didn’t see him giving any speech,” he said, adding that to ensure success of these campaign meetings, the SLPP would have to play down the threat of the pandemic.
Though the president himself had appeared to maintain social distancing at the meetings he attended, the crowds were seen just centimetres apart from each other.
This indicated that though the leaders were taking precautionary measures, the well being of their own supporters mattered little to them, he added. (Colombo/July13/2020)