It has been a vogue for a few weeks now for some parties and pundits on social media to come up with "ground level or grass –root level surveys" that show "a mass rural voter base" for the common candidate M. Sirisena. However, these surveys seem to have been having some fundamental flows or either they are just wild imaginations or blatant lies by some parties and individuals aimed at giving an upper hand to M. Sirisena's propaganda campaign.
Except among Tamil and Muslim voters M. Sirisena has not been able to make a big dent among Rajapaksha's voter base and the latter enjoys almost the same level of support that he enjoyed in 2010 among rural Sinhala Buddhist voters.
What matters most for an average rural person is the cost of living, his/her son serving in the armed forces are no longer coming in their numbers to their rustic dwellings in sealed coffins and a peaceful environment to live in without being blown up by bombs. The rural masses know very well by their past experiences that what a future M. Sirisena's government, if elected, can do about cost of living is almost zero. They are still fresh with their memories of how former president Chandrika's promise of making available a loaf of bread at Rs. 4.50 in 1994 became a huge flop. So the rural voters know very well that the promise of a possible reduction of cost of living by a future government of M. Sirisena doesn't hold much water.
The subjects of corruption, abuse of office of executive presidency, problems of good governance and rule of law under Rajapaksha administration have not been phenomena unique only to the his administration alone. They had been hallmarks in all the previous administrations especially from J. R. Jayawardana's onward. If anyone says that President Rajapaksha's rule is anything different than what we saw his predecessor's administration in terms of the subjects mentioned above, it is an almost exaggeration to anyone who had been a grown- up individual by the time the latter's rule started in 1994. Besides, those subjects are a little relevance to an average rural folk in his/her day today survival.
On the other hand if he/she happens to get a rare chance of going on a trip in any part of the country including the North and East, he/she would find that almost all the roads that he/she travels on are wide and carpeted for miles, an almost a dream for him/her who has always seen either gravel or pot-holed roads in his/her life time. If his/her trip happens to be to the North and East parts of the country, visiting almost all the places in the North in particular and the North and East in general would have been his/her a wildest imagination in just a five years ago. So the average village folk doesn't want to see a halt, even for a short period of time, or a reverence of those fortunes even in an iota. He/she is intelligent enough to fathom out what is in store to those fortunes in the absence of Rajapaksha's rule given some of the prominent individual who are around M. Sirisena and the powerful forces backing his candidature.
So M. Rajapaksha rule hasn't certainly made an impact in the minds of rural Sinhala Buddhist voter base to the extent of what former presidents R. Premadasa's rule did in 1994 which paved the way for the former's successor's ascend to power. The result of the upcoming presidential election would, no doubt, shed more light to determine how a rural Sinhala Buddhist votes when it comes to an important election, a life and death one for him/her in that matter!