By Nirmala Kannangara
UPFA candidate Dinesh Rajapaksa charged that Lands and Land Development Minister Janaka Bandara Tennakoon and his son Pramitha engaged in acts of intimidation and manipulated the Dambulla Municipal Council election results.
Rajapaksa told The Sunday Leader that Minister Tennakoon manipulated the UPFA preferential votes so that he got one of his staunch supporters, a well-known ‘hooligan’ in the area, to top the list.
“This was a pre-planned arrangement. Although the candidates are allowed to go to the counting centers, Minister Tennakoon said that he will be sending five independent people to the counting center to avoid any issues. This was said well before the election but though we knew Tennakoon is a crook we did not know that he will manipulate his own party’s preferential votes,” an angry Rajapaksa charged.
Rajapaksa added that up until 5 a.m. on Friday (18) he had topped the Dambulla Municipal Council UPFA preferential vote list. Another candidate Kusumsiri was second while the candidate in question Jaliya Opatha was in sixth place. After verifying the final results most of the candidates left the counting centres by 5.30 a.m. At that time, Rajapaksa charged, manipulation had taken place.
He claimed that Minister Tennakoon was wary of him and others who were financially stable and had many supporters, and charged that Tennakoon won elections using thuggery.
“Since the mayoral post is given to the candidate with the most number of votes and he is eligible to contest the next general election, Tennakoon knew that if I become the mayor, I would be a challenge for him at the next general election. That was why Tennakoon changed the preferential votes to bring Opatha to the first slot,” alleged Rajapaksa.
Meanwhile, Pramitha Bandara Tennakoon has been accused of assaulting UNP candidate Manjula Rajapaksa for having a UNP poster pasted on his vehicle on Election Day.
Pramitha assaulted him in front of the Dambulla Central School polling booth. “I got myself discharged after getting treatment to my injured nose,” said Manjula Rajapaksa.
Meanwhile the two candidates accused Dambulla police of being biased towards the Tennakoons and said people who go against the Tennakoon family would not receive any justice from the Dambulla Police.
Pramitha Tennakoon denied that he and his father had engaged in manipulation.
“How could they blame my father when they have not received votes to top the list? Without accusing my father let them accuse the Counting Officers if they think that there was any manipulation. My father assigned five independent people to the counting centers. One was from the National Freedom Front; one was from the Jathika Hela Urumaya, and the other three were from the UPFA. Those who contest for the first time should know that they have more to learn about elections. They cannot expect to top the list overnight,” he said.
Pramitha Tennakoon also denied assaulting UNP candidate Manjula Rajapaksa.
“The police can bear testimony to it,” he said.