Sri Lankan Presidential campaign promises and how far were they fulfilled?
As we all know that the most important figure in Sri Lankan politics is non-other than the executive president. He or She is the head of the state, head of the government and as well the commander for all country forces. Since establishing the 1978 constitution which resulted in implementing the French model half president democracy the constitution had to be amended for 19 times but yet, it is no secret that the country’s most important decisions still remain in the hands of the executive president of the democratic socialist republic of Sri Lanka. During the presidential election time period most leaders from almost every political party gives away a bunch of promises which they SAYS that they will definitely fulfill when they get the power.
Saying WILL in mouth but WOULD in mind is a trend of politicians who contested for this responsible office which is a huge misery where the country still remains as a still developing country even after 72 years of independence. So in this article we shall look through the promises given by each presidential candidate from 1982 and how far those promises were fulfilled during the tenure.
William Gopallawa (1972-1978)
Though Mr. William Gopallawa was the first president of Sri Lanka he did not have the executive part in his title. During the time period of 1972-1978 it was just a ceremonial office but he was the official head of state and government. Acting as per advice of the prime minister and the cabinet members was his duty during his 7 years tenure where the “Samagi Peramuna” government ruled the country.
J.R Jayawardhane (1978-1988)
President J.R Jayawardhane was the first executive president of Sri Lanka and the creator of the 1978 2nd Republican constitution of Sri Lanka. He gained the right to swore as the president without contesting as the first president as per constitution so in this incident let’s see what promises he gave during the parliament elections in 1977 where Sri Lankans gave over 5/6 majority in that particular election. President Jayawardhane made the people’s hunger to the first place in that election campaign.
The previous government from 1970-1977 in that time was implementing self-sustaining economic policies and as per result most of the foreign products including food were not allowed in country markets. Along with the 1970 decade world economic crisis and the strong famine occurred during that time people had to suffer with no food and even deaths had been reported due to hunger. During the campaign rally, Jayawardhane exposed his idea to reestablish the free market economy and his famous promise was to give each house of the country 8 pounds seeds from different kinds.
Also he promised to establish a religious community where all people could live in peace. But Jayewardhane during his 10 years rule failed to create a better economy for the country and instead of a religious community the riots of 1983 black July and 1988 JVP insurrections shook the country in blood. Finally when president Jayewardhane stepped down in 1988 the country people of Sri Lankans were experiencing the horrors of hell instead of the heaven which Jayewardhane planted upon in minds of the people who gave him power in 1977.
Rasnasinghe Premadasa (1988-1993)
President Premadasa came into power representing the united nation party by winning the presidential and parliamentary elections respectively in 1988 and 1989 where the country was on fire from both north and south. L.T.T.E effects in north and J.V.P issues in south was shaking the country in blood and literary the country was a hell on earth at the edge of eighties.
President Premadasa also came into power by making promises over innocent people’s hopes and desires. He was able to gain the hearts of common people as most of his campaign promises were of decreasing market prices and giving hands for the poor to rise upon the society. But even in his 6 years long tenure the president was not able nor in creating a better future for the common people neither in giving a proper solution for the Civil war crisis. The president was assassinated in 1993 at Colombo Amour Street while in a public rally by suicide bomber sent from L.T.T.E.
Dingiri Banda Wijethunga (1993-1994)
Soon after the president premadasa’s death as the acting president Mr. D.B Wijethunga came into power. He was the last president which came into power representing the united national party. He did not have to make any promises and he managed to remain very calm and silent during his tenure as his term lasted less than a year.
Chandrika Bandaranaike Kumaratunga (1994-2005)
Ending the 17 years long U.N.P rule Mrs. Chandrika Bandaranaike Kumaratunga came into power in 1994 becoming the prime minister and then the president in the same year. She represented the Sri Lanka Freedom Party and Mrs. Kumaratunga holds the record as the presidential candidate who has given the most number of campaign promises up to now . She stated that she will abolish the executive presidency within 24 hours after gaining the power. Mrs. Kumaratunga promised to bring forward a mixed economic pattern instead of the free market economy. As well she promised that during her time period the people should not have to worry about high market prices. Also she promised that she will give a fair solution for the deaths and lost cases during the 1988-1989 J.V.P insurrections.
But until she contested for the second time for the presidential elections in 1999 she failed to fulfill any of these promises which she made. In 1999 she once again came into power saying that she will put an end to the civil war which she failed until 2005. During her tenure Sri Lanka experienced a huge economic crisis in 2002 instead of the dreamy economic freedom which Mrs. Kumaratunga brought forward in 1994. She stepped down from the position in 2005 as the longest serving president of the country
Mahinda Rajapakse (2005-2015)
Mahinda Rajapakse came into power in 2005 promising that he would abolish the executive presidency and he would put an end to the civil war. President Rajapakse did fulfil one of his promises putting a very end to the 30 years long civil war of Sri Lanka in 2009 which gave him a very high popularity which he was elected once again as the president in 2010 elections.
But instead of the parliamentary democracy promise which he brought forward he amended the constitution giving the president’s office the powers even more than the original constitution where the number of terms extended to infinity. Even though he was the leader who brought peace to the land he did not manage to win the 2015 election along with another set of interesting promises where Sri Lankans thought which were better than the president Rajapakse and actually though that would be fulfilled ( of course never fulfilled) .
Maithripala Sirisena (2015-2019)
The common candidate from 2015 also gave away many interesting campaign promises in his election manifesto. He promised to bring the good governess during his tenure and he too promised to abolish the executive presidency. During his tenure he had go into a co-habitation with opposition and as a result he could not keep most of his manifesto promises. His tenure could be stated as the time period with the very frequent political conflicts and the national security was nowhere to be found when the country faced a huge massacre in April 21st 2019 (Easter day attack bomb attack).
Gotabaya Rajapakse (2019-2020)
The current president Mr. Gotabaya Rajapakse has also given a security promise. But it is too early to judge his promises because there is much of his time remaining from his term. So we are aware that Mr.Gotabaya won the election giving people a very strong promise regarding the national security. The question is after all these years of false hopes , will this hope come true?
So when we consider these events it is evident that all the leaders who came into power as the president has never cared of the interests in people who raised them to power. All politicians has just cared about their power and properties. During all these 72 years politicians cheated civilians. . So is this a country which deserve these kind of false hopes? The decision is yours.
See you with another article.