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Lanka’s Rajapaksa set for easy win: Opinion poll

[Express Buzz, Friday, 15 January 2010 11:01 No Comment]

Voters belonging to the Muslim community and the urban areas of Central Lanka are largely backing the joint Opposition Presidential candidate, Gen Sarath Fonseka.

With the Indian origin Tamils also backing him, Fonseka is seen as the candidate of the minorities and the urban bourgeoisie in the race for Lanka’s top office.

Support from the urban population is not surprising, given the fact that the United National Party (UNP) backs Fonseka. But the support he is getting from the ethnic and religious minorities is surprising. Earlier, members of the alliance now backing Fonseka, like the Sri Lanka Muslim Congress (SLMC), had vehemently protested against the General’s “racist” remarks.

RAJAPAKSA QUINTESSENTIAL SINHALESE CANDIDATE: As a Muslim trader in Digana town put it: “Please remember, it is Rajapaksa who said that there are no minorities in Sri Lanka. By saying so, he has completely writing us off.” A Muslim vegetable farmer in Nuwara Eliya district said that the Rajapaksa government was discriminating against the vegetable growers in the district by not giving urea at the subsidised rate.

In the farmer’s eyes, the supply of fertiliser at a highly subsidised rate to paddy farmers only, was indicative of the governments’ partiality towards the majority Sinhalese.

Outside the Tamil-speaking northern and eastern provinces, paddy cultivation is generally associated with the Sinhalese.

Tamils and Muslims are only in vegetable growing here.

A Muslim importer said that at the Colombo harbour, importers from the minority communities were harassed. Officials were more lenient towards the Sinhalese importers, he alleged.

Asked how he was sure that Fonseka would be less majority-oriented if he became President, a Muslim trader in Digana said that Fonseka would not anti-minority because he would be depending in Parliament on the support of the secular UNP, and minority parties such as the SLMC and the Tamil National Alliance (TNA).

The UNP is identified with minorities.

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