Campaigning heats up for general elections in Sri Lanka amid COVID-19 shadow

Campaigning for general elections of Sri Lanka scheduled for next Wednesday, has reached its peak with candidates adopting various means to woo the voters amidst COVID-19 crisis.

This will be the first major election in the region since COVID outbreak and around 1.6 crore voters are eligible to exercise their franchise to elect a 225 member parliament. The attendance at election meetings have been restricted to 500 and candidates are using social media, advertisements, distribution of leaflets and door to door campaigning to reach their electorate.

The ruling Sri Lanka People’s party (SLPP) is aiming to get two-thirds majority at the election in a bid to change 19th amendment to the constitution and bring a new constitution. The party led by Prime minister Mahinda Rajapaksa has been highlighting the failures during the previous government including Easter Sunday attacks and bond scam.

Opposition parties are talking of post-COVID recovery and overcoming economic challenges before the country. The opposition is divided between two camps led by former Prime Minister Ranil Wickremsinghe and former minister Sajith Premadasa, who lost the last year Presidential elections to Gotabaya Rajapaksa.

Premadasa broke away from United National party 9UNP) led by Ranil to form his own party. Tamil National Alliance (TNA) contesting mainly in Tamil-majority north and east provinces have demanded self-determination and greater devolution of powers apart from addressing war crimes during LTTE war.