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After win, Gotabaya says he is President of all Sri Lankans

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Gotabaya Rajapaksa Sri Lanka

Colombo, Nov 18 : Amidst clear divisive vote between the majority and the minority, President-elect Gotabaya Rajapaksa on Sunday said that he is the President of all Sri Lankans and the leader of not only those elected him but also those voted against him too.

After Election Commission Chairman Mahinda Deshapriyya officially announced his election to the country’s top post, Rajapaksa said: “I am well aware that I am bound to serve all Sri Lankans despite their racial or religious barriers. I assure that I would conduct accordingly and I thank my citizens for electing me.”

The newly-elected seventh President of the island nation won the majority Sinahala votes of 6,924,255, or 52.25 per cent, from total valid votes of 13,252,499 cast in the November 16 election.

In a separate Facebook post, Rakapaksa stated: “It’s no overstatement: today we made history together. November 16, 2019 will be remembered as the day when the wounds of the past were healed, and our nation moved forward to embrace the future.”

Rajapaksa, former Defence Secretary in the government of his brother Mahinda Rajapaksa – who oversaw victory in the 26-year-long war against rebel Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) in the North and East in 2009, noted: “Sri Lankans chose hope over fear, unity over conflict, smile over anger. Our vision for a better tomorrow, won the hearts and the minds of the people.”

“From now on, the path to great achievements lies open in front of us and this was our first step together with many other accomplishments to follow. I promise not to stop, until we reach the heights Sri Lankans aspire to,” he added.

Out of 25 administrative districts, Gotabaya won 16: Kalutara, Galle, Matara, Hambantota, Monaragala, Ratnapura, Badulla, Kurunegala, Puttalam, Gampaha, Kandy, Matale, Polonnaruwa, Colombo, Kegalle and Anuradhapura.

However, he was heavily defeated in Tamil and Muslim-majority Northern and Eastern Provinces. The Tamils in all five administrative districts in the Northern province — Jaffna, Kilinochchi, Mulaitivu, Vavuniya, Mannar, and the majority Muslims in three districts in the Eastern Province — Trincomalee, Batticaloa, Ampara — voted against Rajapaksa with lead of 80 percent in most districts.

In the November 16 election, out of nearly 16 million voters, 13,387,951 or 83.72 per cent were polled but 135,452 were marked as invalid by the Election Commission. Out of 13,252,499 valid votes, Rajapaksa’s main opponent Sajith Premadasa won 5,564,239 votes with 42.99 per cent.

Eight out of nine districts won by Premadasa were from the North and the Eastern provinces.

After being elected as the President, Rajapaksa also stated that he would respect the democratic institutions and adhere to the democratic values.

Election Commission Chairman Deshapriya also urged Rajapaksa to ensure democracy and said that through democracy, only proper election could be conducted.

“Though you were elected by your voters, now you are the President of all Sri Lanka. We hope that you will work to fulfil what you promised in your manifesto,” he noted.

Following the end of the ethnic war against Tamil rebels in May 2009, the United Nations has alleged that there were serious human rights violations that could amount to war crimes but the Rajapaksas have denied the allegations.

Ten years after the end of the war against Tamils, Sri Lanka faced the biggest terror attack in its history on Easter Sunday (April 21, 2019) from the local IS suicide bombers. The attacks killed 269 civilians and injured over 400 in three churches and three luxury hotels.

Rajapaksa led the election campaign with national security as the topmost priority and vowed that he would eliminate terrorists and ensure that similar attack would not be repeated.

Conceding defeat before the final result was announced, Premadasa issued a statement congratulating Gotabaya on his victory. He announced that he would step down as Deputy Leader of the ruling United National Party with immediate effect.

“At the conclusion of a hard fought and spirited election campaign, it is my privilege to honour the decision of the people and congratulate Gotabaya Rajapaksa on his election as the seventh President of Sri Lanka,” Premadasa noted.

Premadasa, the son of Ranasinghe Premadasa, who served as the President from 1989 until he was assassinated in May 1993 by the LTTE, had pledged to fight for the Muslim and Tamil minorities.

Following Premadasa’s admission of the defeat and resignation from the party, several ministers including Finance Minster Mangala Samaraweera, Sports and Digital Affairs Minister Harin Fernando, Development Strategies and International Trade Minister Malik Samarawickrema and Digital Infrastructure and Information Technology Minister Ajith P. Perera resigned from their posts.

Sri Lanka’s main Marxist party candidate Anura Kumara Dissanayake, who represented National People’s Party (NPP), emerged third with 418,553 votes and 3.16 per cent while former Army Commander, Lt. General Mahesh Senanayake, who formed a party after he left the army last August, emerged fourth with 49,655 votes.

The swearing-in ceremony of Rajapaksa is to be held in the Buddhist sacred city of Anuradhapura, in the North Central province, 200 km away from capital Colombo.

Cities

Sacked DTC staff make it dramatic for AAP

“This is like a job fair for us. We want a job and this is that for us. We are contesting against Kejriwal to save the Constitution and the common man,” Sharma told IANS.

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Kejriwal for Nomination

New Delhi, Jan 21 : The last day of nominations for the February 8 Assembly elections turned dramatic for the ruling Aam Aadmi Party as close to 30 sacked DTC employees filed their candidature ahead of the Delhi Chief Minister, who waited for close to seven hours to file his nomination with token number 45 in hand.

Kejriwal reached the office of the Returning Officer (RO) to file his nomination from the New Delhi Assembly seat around 12.30 p.m. on Tuesday. However, even at 7 p.m. he was still waiting for his turn.

The Chief Minister was accompanied by his wife and parents along with party leaders Pankaj Gupta and Gopal Mohan.

As the clock ticked 3 p.m. — the deadline for the filing nomination — the anxiety prevailed among the party leaders and volunteers as the party’s chief minister face was yet to file the nominations.

Though the deadline for filing nominations was 3 p.m., all those who have been given token, would be allowed to submit their papers.

Party’s spokesperson Saurabh Bhardwaj went on to call it “nuisance”, adding an organised group of 50 candidates was taking tokens to file nomination at New Delhi every day for the last 4 days. “But they were not filing nominations. They just wanted to harass Kejriwal. This situation was very much in the knowledge of the RO & DM,” said Bhardwaj.

Earlier, he said around 35 candidates sitting at the RO office with CM, “without” proper nomination papers. “They are calling their proposers on phone to come. They are insisting unless their papers are complete and they file their nomination, they won’t allow the CM to file his papers,” Bhardwaj said.

However, this partially turned out to be true as a huge number of those in the list were the sacked DTC contractual employees.

The drivers and conductors of Delhi Transport Corporation (DTC), who lost their contract jobs, had last year floated a political party, the ‘Mazdoor Ekta Party’. However, just only one among them filed from the party, while close to 30 sacked DTC employees are contesting the election as an Independent against Kejriwal.

Manoj Sharma, one of the members of the DTC Contractual Employees Union, who filed his papers as an Independent, said they do not have any job.

“This is like a job fair for us. We want a job and this is that for us. We are contesting against Kejriwal to save the Constitution and the common man,” Sharma told IANS.

When asked if this is just to trouble the Chief Minister, Sharma said the DTC employees have a strong vote base and will win against Kejriwal.

He said this is not just the only seat where the sacked DTC candidates are filing nominations. “On several other seats as well the sacked employees are filing the papers,” he added.

While the AAP leaders seemed annoyed with the delay, Kejriwal called the other contestants his family.

“Many of them are filing for the first time. They are bound to make mistakes. We also made mistakes the first time. We should hand-hold them. I am enjoying waiting with them. They are all part of my family,” Kejriwal tweeted, in response to Bhardwaj’s tweet.

Delhi Deputy Cheif Minister Manish Sisodia, however, said the other contestants were planted by the BJP.

“The BJP has put 45 candidates before Kejriwal. The Election Commission is deliberately giving a long time to every candidate, whose papers are not complete or even to those whose proposal is not ready so that Kejriwal can be prevented from filling the nominations,” Sisodia tweeted.

He said Kejriwal cannot be stopped.

Delhi goes to the polls on February 8 and Tuesday was the last date for filing nominations.

(Nivedita Singh can be contacted at [email protected])

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BJP’s Bagga, AAP’s Dhillon fight over this old BJP bastion

Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) candidate Jagdeep Singh had won the seat twice in a row — both in 2013 and 2015. But before the AAP came into being, from 1993 to 1998, the seat has been a BJP bastion.

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Jagdeep Singh

New Delhi, Jan 21 : One of the closely fought seats this poll season in Delhi will be Hari Nagar in West Delhi Lok Sabha constituency. Both AAP and the BJP have gone for fresh faces. While the BJP has fielded its rabble-rouser Tajinder Bagga, AAP has replaced its two time MLA Jagdeep Singh with Raj Kumari Dhillon.

There are a total of 1,74,463 voters this time from this constituency with 92,731 male and 81,726 female voters. Last time, BJP ally Shiromani Akali Dal fought from this seat and lost by more than 15,000 votes to the AAP candidate.

Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) candidate Jagdeep Singh had won the seat twice in a row — both in 2013 and 2015. But before the AAP came into being, from 1993 to 1998, the seat has been a BJP bastion.

This time around, Bagga, who is also the Delhi BJP spokesperson, has been fielded from this Sikh majority constituency. Dhillon was brought in to counter any anti incumbency by AAP.

Soon after Bagga’s name was announced on the intervening night of Monday and Tuesday, he released a poster that says “Neta nahi, Beta (I am a son, not a leader)”, which appears to be his campaign slogan. However, Dhillon is riding on the Arvind Kejriwal wind and the party’s slogan of “Acche bitey 5 saal (Last 5 years were well spent)”.

Mayapuri, Nanakpura, Paraag Vihar are key areas that encircle the Hari Nagar constituency. Scarcity of clean water and parking space remain top electoral issues even in 2020. Residents often complain of illegal parking. As candidates, both have to convince the electorates here that they have a formidable road plan to address their concerns.

With CAA protests rocking Delhi, it is expected to come up in the discourse during campaign. BJP hopes to capitalise on that, given Sikhs, who form a significant part of the constituency, will be benefiting from the legislation as well.

The Citizenship Amendment Act makes it easier for the non-Muslim immigrants facing religious persecution in Muslim-majority nations — Pakistan, Bangladesh and Afghanistan — to become Indian citizen and reduces the stipulated years one needs to spend in India for applying for citizenship.

Delhi will poll on February 8 and the results will come on February 11.

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AAP drops Jitender Singh Tomar, wife given ticket

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Aam Aadmi Party

New Delhi: The Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) has dropped its former law minister in Delhi, Jitender Singh Tomar, who was declared as the party candidate from the Tri Nagar Assembly constituency on January 14, and now has fielded his wife Preeti Tomar from the seat.

The former Minister told IANS that his wife is contesting from the seat.

“After the court verdict, I told the party that my wife will fight the election and the party agreed,” the former Minister added.

Preeti Tomar has filed her nomination on Monday.

A Delhi BJP delegation had on Monday met the Chief Election Commissioner demanding cancellation of Tomar’s nomination from the Assembly seat.

The Delhi High Court on January 17 held as “void” the election of Tomar to the Legislative Assembly in 2015 polls for furnishing false information of his educational qualification in the nomination papers.

The party’s list came on January 14 and Tomar was again fielded by the AAP from the same seat. Tuesday is the last date of filing nominations.

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