How local artistes fared in 2020 polls | Sunday Observer

How local artistes fared in 2020 polls

16 August, 2020

The General Election 2020 is over, giving a clear two-thirds majority to - the Sri Lanka Podujana Peramuna and the results have certainly proven that Sri Lanka’s political framework has changed. The fabled, preconceived notion that has long-existed towards party politics which mainly the deciding factor when voting, seems immaterial anymore. The humiliating defeat of the United National Party which has decades of political history and the collapse of the National Freedom Front are the best examples of this.

Fresh faces

It seems people have also seriously considered electing new faces to Parliament which was one of the most attractive election campaign slogans during the recent election campaign of the SLPP. There are 64 new faces among the 196 members elected to represent the ninth Parliament. The SLPP has the highest number of elected 53 new members and another four have been elected from the Samagi Jana Balawegaya. The General Election will be remembered in history as the first General Election to be held in South Asia after the Covid -19 pandemic.

For years now, considerable political and media attention has been focused on the phenomenon of the celebrity politician. This is not at all a new trend but quite a common phenomenon across the globe. The political commitment of celebrities is growing in scope and significance, especially, when considering their increasing involvement in politics.

There are quite a few examples which can be taken from the history of Sri Lankan politics of celebrity involvement and they have played a genuine role in establishing progressive reforms in Sri Lankan politics. Not only have they been widely accepted by the public, but some of them also grew even more popular after becoming active politicians.

Artiste politicians

At this General Election too, ten artistes from different art spheres representing several political parties, decided to ditch the glitz and glamour to “work for the people”. However, of those who contested, only four were elected to Parliament.

Of the novice MPs who come from an artistic background, the highest number of preferential votes has been polled by Uddhika Premarathna. He obtained the second place in the SLPP Anuradhapura list by acquiring 133,350 votes, beating a few other stalwarts who were, experienced ministers. The character of King ‘Dutugamunu’ in Jayantha Chandrasiri’s Maharaja Gemunu film portrayed by Uddhika Premarathna was highly acclaimed by audiences and this could have been one of the main reasons behind his outstanding victory.

The second highest number of votes have been obtained by Ranjan Ramanayaka from the Samagi Jana Balawegaya Gampaha list by securing 103,992 votes. He had been the most popular actor consecutively for many years. The veteran actress Geetha Kumarasinghe was elected from the Galle district and securing the seat by obtaining 63,357 preferential votes while tele-drama actor Piyal Nishantha, contesting from the Kalutara district won fourth place in the district by securing 103,904 preferential votes.

With the exception of these four, all the other artistes who contested were defeated at this election.

The losers

Among the losers was Oshadhi Hewamadduma, a popular teledrama actress who made controversial statements during the election period and became a news creator, especially, on social media throughout her election campaign. She contested from the Badulla district for the first time and received only 10,957 votes. Madhumadawa Aravinda, one time famous singer and later a hard core social media political influencer contested from Gampaha district for the first time and received a small number of votes. A former parliamentarian and film actor, Sujeewa Senasinghe, who contested for the Colombo District from the Samagi Janabalavegaya, and popular singer Rookantha Gunathilake, contesting from the Kurunegala District and popular actor Ravindra Yasas who contested from the Kalutara district also lost the election.

Wimal Ketapearachchi, a poet and lyricist who contested the Colombo District from the National People’s Force, is also among the defeated artistes. In addition, artistes have been nominated in the National lists of the major political parties and actor Jayantha Ketagoda has been appointed a Member of Parliament from the Sri Lanka People’s Front National List.

The Samagi Jana Balawegaya nominated actress Diana Gamage. Musician Nadeeka Guruge, actors Deepani Silva and Jagath Manuwarna were nominated by the Jathika Jana Balawegaya.