Strategies and failures – Will they ever learn?
Posted on November 3rd, 2009

S. Akurugoda

According to media reports, JVP has joined the UNP now to go all out against the executive presidency, thereby supporting the candidate forwarded by the UNP-led opposition alliance which would promise to do away with the executive presidency within 180 days after coming to power. The strategy is to use the common opposition candidate as a “ƒ”¹…”bait’ to catch the voters who were rejoiced after the defeat of terrorism and to deny the incumbent President a 50 per cent majority.

Let us rush through the well known strategies of the JVP since its inceptions. The strategy (perhaps the only alternative) adopted by JVP in 1970, after the arrest of its leader by the UNP government, was to support the United Frond led by Mrs Bandaranaike to gain a favourable atmosphere for their activities and then to capture power through an arm struggle. The JVP simply thought that by carrying out surprise attacks on police stations will do the job. However the so-called arm struggle or the revolution was poorly armed and badly led and according to available official figures, at least five thousands youths, mainly Sinhala-Buddihist patriots, probably many more, were misled to death in their first adventure.

In late 1980s, JVP thought that eliminating individuals and widespread fear psychosis (Bheesanaya) can bring down the government in power. But the UNP government made use of the “ƒ”¹…”Bheesanaya’ to its maximum advantage to win the Presidential elections and the end result was the loss of sixty five thousands of innocent lives including those of JVP leaders.

The JVP is a product of unemployment and social imbalance, but the political indoctrination they conducted, on the both adventures, reinforced the youths’ anxieties and persuaded them to embark on the path of violence.

Although the strategies by the first generation of JVP to grab power have failed miserably, the second generation or the”ƒ”¹…”re-born’ JVP of early nineties managed to win the support of the people to some extent due to their stand against separatism, at a time, when both the leaders of the two main political parties were fooled by the LTTE sympathisers and giving into separatism. The massive preferential votes received by the JVP candidates during the last parliamentary election compared to those of UPFA led by Chandrika are an indication of this fact. The popularity of the JVP was at its peak during the last Presidential election, but the situation changed rapidly after the last Presidential election. While under estimating the political shrewdness of the President, some of the top ranking leaders of the JVP over estimated its apparent popularity and decided to go on its own, despite repeated requests made by the President Mahinda Rajapakse to join him. Had the JVP joined the government to serve the people, similar to what they did when Chandrika’s “ƒ”¹…”parivasa’ government was formed; the story would have been entirely different today.

The decision of the leadership to not to cooperate with the President elected by themselves and to go alone led to an internal crisis and the party suffered its biggest setback when Weerawansa (probably the most popular leader amongst the JVP membership) decided to breakaway from the party with ten other parliamentarians.

The JVP is fast losing its lustre again and to defuse this situation the party organized a general strike last year to demonstrate to the masses, especially their membership that they are still strong and could exert pressure on the Government as before, but failed again miserably. It is unfortunate that the party leaders do not realise that the only way to recover its lost lustre is to go back to where it was in 2006.

UNP of the day has to depend on the imported strategies of bankrupt dissidents of other political parties, unlike the UNP under the leaderships of JRJ and Premadasa, since the current leadership is in political wilderness. It is hard to expect any change of this situation since the incumbent leader may not give-up his position even if the Sakkraya (King of the gods) is ready to assume the leadership of the party. The leader of the UNP became the “ƒ”¹…”leader for life’ of the party as a result of a loophole in its constitution. His only hope, apparently, is to become the “ƒ”¹…”leader for life of the country’, by hook or crook, with the assistance of the so-called international community and until then he will never stop his campaign of tarnishing the image of the country.

As per the latest media reports, UNP leader has sent one of its well known LTTE sympathisers in the party to Geneva again, to add some more weight to the issues of IDPs and so-called wide spread human rights violations in the country, probably to give an additional moral support to the notable western countries who are all out to punish Sri Lanka for the elimination of LTTE Tamil Tiger terrorism from our soil.

According to the UNP General Secretary, the executive presidency a curse and he wanted it scrapped immediately. By looking at how the General Secretary interprets all election defeats in favour of UNP, it is not surprising at all his failure to realise that his current leader is a curse to his own party!

Both the JVP and the UNP are now going hammer and tongs to do away with the executive presidency, because both parties know very well their fate at a presidential election. The obvious question we have is why not the JVP include abolition of the entire J.R.J constitution of 1978 and its Amendments including infamous 13A in their demonstrations organised against the executive Presidency. Are they happy with the present PR system which allows all sorts of people, including those who have been rejected by the voters at the elections, to enter the Parliament through the backdoor as representatives of the people?

Knowing very well that the government will not do away with the Presidency, both parties appear to have come to an understanding to support a common opposition candidate for the presidency for their own survival and to prevent President Mahinda Rajapaksa winning a second term.

Knife is a useful tool which can be used for cutting as well as stabbing. If misused it, it is the person used it at fault and not the knife. Both D.B Wijethunga and Mahinda Rajapaksa proved that the executive presidency can be used for better purposes than the others who served in that position. As far as ordinary people are concerned, there are many stressing problems that have to be focused than the position of executive presidency. Failure of the opposition to win elections is not the fault of the executive presidency.

The demonstration organised against the executive presidency and the call for the support to a common opposition presidential candidate reminds us the popular saying “When a man is drowning, he will catch at anything in the hope that it may keep him afloat”.

S. Akurugoda

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