I am at Lahugala, in the Ampara district. Write this just after finishing another round of campaigning and conducting pocket meetings.
Entire Eastern province has caught the election fever.
Election campaigning is fun. What adds to our enthusiasm is the awareness of the impending danger.
Pillayan’s henchmen are waiting to kill us. He is a terrorist and should not be trusted. The only shield we have against his arms is the support of the people. Whatever the powers this terrorist has we do not think he can just shoot anyone and flee. But the danger is there, everywhere. We have got over with is now. Pillayan’s terrorism should not stop us in our fight for democracy.
Just a brief background of the work I do.
I am in charge of six villages in Lahugala. They are Panama North, Shastrawela, Panama West, Lahugala, Pansalgoda and Hulanuge. My job is to campaign but I take pleasure in educating them on the danger of electing an armed terrorist – or more precisely letting his get elected through inaction. (That is what Pillayan tries to do. Massive pool riggings are expected on May 10th. That is why I said this is a fight for democracy. If Pillayan wins the losers will only be the people of this country.)
The areas I cover are predominantly Sinhala. Lets say 80%. But there are Tamils and Muslims as well. Travel few kms away the composition changes. For example the nearby Pottuvil area is predominantly Muslim (more than 90%)
JHU tries to do some campaigning here, with the backing of Pillayan’s gunmen, but without much success. JHU MP Akmeemana Dayaratne thero is using 16 government vehicles. (This is illegal but there is little we can do. Baduth hamuduruvange, naduth hamuduruvange!) We see these government vehicles run everywhere with Pillayan’s henchmen in black sit in the front seats. They do not show arms openly but surely they are under the clothes.
People themselves have started responding to JHU campaign negatively. Villagers ask where were all JHU supported when they were in trouble. JHU had to give up their initial idea of having a political meeting at the Lahugala temple, because villagers vehemently opposed it.
There is no sign of JVP – either faction.
I am still not sure exactly what sort of tricks Pillayan will pay in pool rigging, but even with that I am sure we would win Ampara with a significant margin. That is the level of support we receive at ground level from poor people who no more want to live under the twin tragedies of war and rising cost of living. People are determined to end the suffering and I do not think even the guns of Pillayan can stop that kind of determination.
Finally, this is a beautiful area. I wish I am on vacation. (More about the area on my next posts)