For the first time in Sri Lankan Presidential elections history, a Muslim candidate who will not represent any mainstream political party but will only represent the Muslims of the country, is set to come forward as a candidate.
Well informed Muslim political sources said that all Muslim political parties will back a separate Muslim Presidential candidate who would likely be nominated by the Sri Lanka Muslim Congress (SLMC) on behalf of all Muslim parties.
The Muslim parties are likely to form a loose coalition at Presidential elections so that the Muslim voter-base would not split and would rally around only one nominated Muslim candidate, the sources added.
According to these sources, it was this consensus that also led to the sudden mass resignation of Muslim Ministers on June 3, who said they were all stepping down in protest against the targeting of a single Muslim politician, leader of ACMC (and former Minister) Rishad Bathiudeen.
“Even Muslim Ministers of UNP who were voted-in by the Sinhalese voters resigned unexpectedly on June 3 with Muslim Ministers who were voted in by Muslim votes. The undisclosed political development of a forthcoming separate Muslim candidate was the reason for their resignation, which was not known to the public at that time. Everyone was led to believe that all Muslim Ministers were standing in unity with Minister Bathiudeen when they resigned” sources added.
When it was asked that “Since a Muslim candidate separately contesting will not be able to secure sufficient votes to become the President of the country, what is the purpose of nominating such a separate Muslim candidate?”
The reliable source within SLMC said “It is well known that such a separate Muslim candidate cannot win the Presidential election alone. We clearly understand this. The expectation of the Muslim candidate is that he/she will show that he/she has the majority Muslim votes of the country, and he/she, representing the Muslims in the country, will start to bargain with the mainstream candidate who is most likely to be the winner in the Presidential election. He/she will therefore be able to do this negotiation for Lankan Muslims in a bigger capacity than a standard Muslim Cabinet Minister or a usual Muslim party leader.”
Sources further told that, “Once the mainstream candidate who is likely to be the winner agrees to the demands of our Muslim Presidential candidate, then our Muslim candidate would either withdraw from his candidacy and pledge his and his Muslim voters’ support to this mainstream candidate or, call all Muslim voters to mark “the mainstream candidate who is likely to be the winner” as their “second preference” in their ballot papers.”