Polls near but candidates shying away from residents?

Polls near but candidates shying away from residents?

April 3, 2010   10:26 pm


Portraying the down side of the ‘manape’ or preference war for elections, householders in and around the Battaramulla-Koswatte areas say that though the general elections are round the corner, candidates are yet to pay them a personal visit.


Though a candidate has to cover the entire district unlike the good old days when he or she had to concentrate only on an electorate, during earlier polls the candidates had at least passed along the roads and by-lanes of the areas, residents said.


However, this time round, not a single candidate had bothered to visit these areas on a house to house campaign, was the complaint of the householders. Even the Janatha Vimukthi Peramuna (JVP) which usually concentrates on house to house campaigns is conspicuous with its absence, according the voters.


Another unique aspect is some candidates living in the area too had not even visited their neighbours, according to those whom Adaderana spoke to.


Instead, they are resorting to pocket meetings and rallies, expecting the voters to flock round them.


While the candidates are yet to be seen by the residents at their homes, propaganda material is liberally being dumped at their door steps. Commented one householder, “I am waiting to cast my preference vote to the first candidate who visits my home, at least for a few seconds. Till now, that has not happened. But when my door bell rings and I open the door, pamphlets and leaflets are left at my door steps but nobody is there to say even a hello.”


He added that the candidates or the supporters who distribute these materials too are reluctant to face the residents and answer any questions raised.


But the candidates seem to be marching on regardless of the voter complaints. They are resorting to hi-tech gimmicks to reach out to the voters. Television adverts, short messages to mobile phones, digital screens on road sides displaying documentaries of what they have done and hope to do are some methods resorted to.


One candidate, who did not want to be named, said that it was impossible to go round visiting all the households in the district and that was the reason for the residents not seeing them at their doors. At the same time he agreed that the preference system of voting should be done away with. “Leave alone visiting the voters, sometimes we have to clash with our own party members because of this system,” he lamented.


Whatever reasons put forward by all parties to the polls, the fact remains that the human touch, the interaction between the candidate and the voter, is a thing of the past. The days when the parliamentarian-to-be spent a few minutes or even hours, sharing a cup of tea or a glass of cool drink, a chew of betel while having a chat with the voters seem to be a thing of the past.

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