From Jan. 08 to Aug. 17 and after: The Mahinda movement and future of Sinhala nationalism
Posted on August 29th, 2015

 DR. DAYAN JAYATILLEKA Courtesy Island

“…of battles won or lost—but waged—against the enemy.”  (Che Guevara: ‘Message to the Tricontinental’)

The Mahinda Movement hoped for, believed in and fought determinedly for a victory at the August 17th election, but beneath the rousing nationalist romanticism there was always a tougher-minded realization that what was being waged was a resistance struggle; a peaceful people’s uprising which could well prove to be a rearguard action.

The main reference point of the Mahinda Movement’s public discourse after January 8th was not the 5.8 lakhs of voters, but rather the marker year 1815, the year of the betrayal of Sri Wickrama Rajasinghe who had successfully resisted the colonial incursion of 1810.

1815 was the year of the Kandyan convention which sealed the surrender of the whole island to Western colonialism. This year was the 200th anniversary of that surrender.

1815 will be appropriately marked by the joint resolution being drafted for presentation at the UN in Geneva this September by the US together with what Asst Secretary of State Nisha Biswal calls the “international core group on Sri Lanka” (whatever that is), and which is meant to be endorsed by the Sri Lankan Government. US Asst Secretary for Human Rights and Labour Tom Malinowski says that a domestic inquiry mechanism will have to be “led by persons acceptable to the minorities” and have international presence”, “participation and “monitoring”. Reuters reports that the proposed US resolution which is expected to obtain Sri Lankan concurrence will include a US-UN”framework for reconciliation”for postwar Sri Lanka.

In short we are to abandon national self- determination and sovereignty, and return to the centuries when Western imperialism determined our external political destiny and internal political order—the sole difference being that this time around, it will be behind a screen of an elected native administration.That is the neocolonial model pioneered in Latin America but long since overthrown in that part of the world.

I recall the working dinner at which it was resolved to organize the first public meeting after January 8th; a meeting which turned out to be the famous Nugegoda event of February 18th. While I was musing that we should perhaps toss in a maximalist slogan of two thirds of the seats for two thirds of the country and its people, Wimal Weerawansa looked up from his plate and completed the sentence solemnly and unsmilingly, saying “then we’ll at least wind up with one-third of the seats”.

I also remember the young ex-Peterite statistician on the team that drafted what turned out to be the bulk of the UPFA manifesto—but was initially that of the Mahinda Movement—estimating way back the first quarter of the year that we would lose the election, winning 94 seats, but constituting a strong nationalist rearguard in parliament which could serve as a bulwark and base camp for resistance and long-term resurgence. Throughout the months-long campaign that young man’s main conversational motif was Puran Appu’s resistance struggle of 1848.

The project of patriotic resistance had no option of accepting President Sirisena’s leadership over Mahinda Rajapaksa’s simply because the former showed no signs of giving leadership to the anti-UNP struggle. Given President Sirisena’s continuing compact with the UNP—which was inevitable given his compact with CBK—and given the UNP’s capitulationist compliance with the Western-minoritarian bloc, any renunciation of Rajapaksa in favour of Sirisena would have been a disabling of the struggle against the UNP and the project of Western-minoritarian re-moulding of the Sri Lankan state.

The real error was either the alliance with the SLFP rather than running as a new independent force, or far more accurately, allowing the SLFP bureaucracy a free hand in the negotiations with the party leadership instead of fielding a hybrid negotiating team which adequately represented the Mahinda Movement (the Nugegoda –Matara-Medamulana).

Today Sri Lanka has experienced a coincidence of three trends, which some may describe as cycles.

The first is that of the alternation of centre-left and centre-right regimes with their corresponding economic philosophies, namely state-led and market-led.

The second trend is the alternation between ‘Easternisers’ and ‘Westernizers’; between ‘look East/Global Southwards’ and ‘look West/Global Northwards’. In Maoist terms, in Sri Lanka today ‘the West Wind has prevailed over the East Wind’.

The third trend is the expansion and contraction of the ideological and political influence of the Ruhuna, the Deep South, the seat and seedbed of resolute Sinhala resistance in defense of the island.

The defeat of statist nationalism as project and ideology, which began at the ethnic periphery on January 8th, was extended into the heartland by August 17th. The defenses that remain standing in geopolitical terms are the two contiguous areas, the ‘Greater Ruhuna’ or the ‘Greater South’ (Kegalle, Ratnapura, Galle, Matara, Hambantota, Moneragala) and in the heartland, Kurunegala-Anuradhapura.In a return to an ancient historical pattern, these are the ‘free territories’ of Sri Lanka; the liberated zones of the national resistance or national liberation movement.

In strictly politico-electoral terms the pro-Mahinda SLFP voters (the anti-Mahinda ones stayed home) and the broadly Mahindaist chunk of the SLFP parliamentary group constitute the anti- foreign hegemonist, patriotic zone of the Sri Lankan polity.

How will the three trends play out and in what patterns of intersection and interplay? The most literate social scientist of the ‘Yahapalana’ bloc, Prof Jayadeva Uyangoda, commendably eschewed the hysteria, both denunciatory and triumphalist, of untrained ideologues, in his postmortem of the election, and rightly defined the defeat of Mahinda Rajapaksa as a defeat precisely of ‘Putinism’.

To extend the analogy, the fate of Putinism – as that of its arguable predecessors of wartime patriotic leadership, Gaullism, or the career of Churchill–is never linear; it demonstrates ebbs and flows in response to perceived threats to the nation.

Putinism as a phenomenon rises whenever it is perceived that sufficient political space and respect is not granted to the state and the undergirding national heartland of any country (Russia being the classic example).

The political narrative of Mahinda Rajapaksa is not yet at an end. As that of Mark Twain, the political obituaries for Mahinda may prove to be greatly exaggerated. At its simplest level, he is still younger than JR Jayewardene was when he first led Sri Lanka. Winston Churchill, voted out in 1945, made his comeback in 1951 at the age of 76. De Gaulle had to step down as the leader of wartime and postwar France, only to return in 1958.

Much less dramatically, Mahinda Rajapaksa can draw satisfaction from the splendid yet understated performance of his son Namal, whom I have come to know as a much smarter politician and more seriously policy-oriented young man than I had ever reckoned him to be.

The future of the anti-UNP struggle and the patriotic center-left in Sri Lankan politics is presently bound up with but must not be reduced to the trajectory of Mahinda Rajapaksa or indeed the Rajapaksas.It is contingent upon(a) the gap between the political space and leading role in determining the island’s destiny that the Sinhala majority feels it is entitled to, and that it actually feels it enjoys under the status quo and (b) whether or not the existential concerns and core strategic interests of the Sinhala majority are realistically recognized, respected and guaranteed, in negotiations with the minorities and the West, India and the UN, over the destiny of Sri Lanka. Some say “geography is destiny” while others say “demography is destiny”. They are both right.

The period of dramatic frontal political warfare and open clashes is over. The patriotic resistance struggle will be a protracted political guerrilla war of attrition. The elections are over and have ended in defeat, but to borrow the watchword of African liberation movements fighting against Portuguese colonialism, “A Luta Continua”—the struggle continues.

11 Responses to “From Jan. 08 to Aug. 17 and after: The Mahinda movement and future of Sinhala nationalism”

  1. Christie Says:

    Please read Salalihini Sandesaya by Rahula and British in Ceylon by Mills. British came in 1795 and since then brought in Indian colonial parasites to the island nation. We are not the only country suffering because of Indian colonial parasites look at all former tropical colonies of the British-Indian Empire now the Indian Empire.

  2. Christie Says:

    බිරිතනියෝ සින්හලයට ආවේ 1795, එදා ඉඳන් උන් ඉන්දියානු පරපෝසිතයො ගෙනාව. අපි විතරක් නෙමෙයි ඉන්දියානු පරපෝසිතයන්ගෙන් පහරකන්නෙ. බිරිතානි-ඉන්දියානු අදිරදයේ අනිකුත් නිවර්තන කලාපීය යටත් විජිතවල වැසියන්ටත් එය උරුමයි.

  3. ranjit Says:

    Mahinda Rajapksa is not an ordinary politician. You cannot compare him to Mervin Silva,Chandrika or Ranjan one shot or Kiriella because those nut heads are just politicians with no leadership qualities,Charisma or Knowledge of Governing a country. Mahinda should not think too much to save the S.L.F.P. party anymore. He should take a decision as soon as possible whether to stay with the friends and patriots to the country who brought him back from retirement or go behind Sira and the evil lot like a coolie and make us the voter stranded half way without achieving our goals.

    We as Sinhalese must take our fight against the Anti Sinhala foreign funded movements to the end as patriots to this country. Americans and the west cunningly and slowly trying to disable the Sinhalese little by little thru their Yankee Govt of UNP promising sun and the moon. Once a terrorist always a terrorist. We have heard and seen on many occasions those who were pardoned from Guantanamo bay prison were later joined with various terrorist movements and started terror campaign all over again, so don’t think that our LTTE terrorists will just stay put without taking revenge from us the Sinhalese in time to come. This treacherous UNP Govt is giving them every opportunity to organize and get ready if the situation arises to start their terror campaign by removing check points,distributing lands and power and also allowing foreign NGO’s who were very close to LTTE movement to move around freely around the country. We Sinhalese who loves this nation must organize now itself to protect our land,religion and our culture from all evil Anti Sinhalese personnel and organizations. Mahinda movement has so many patriots to Motherlanka who has great respect from the citizens of Sri Lanka. I hope Mahinda will give them a courageous leadership to go forward in our fight for freedom and sovereignty of the nation we call home.

  4. Lorenzo Says:

    This LUNATIC GOVT. is destroying SL and SLFP (anything that has SL in it).

    There is NO WAY democracy can save SL. Guardian gods should takeover. Otherwise we should all get ready to become 3 parts of Endia – Tamil north, Muslim east, multicultural rest.

    HAD MR ran with the slogan SCRAP 13 AMENDMENT he would have WON BOTH elections. We don’t have to face this BS.

  5. SA Kumar Says:

    British came in 1795 and since then brought in Indian colonial parasites to the island nation.-yaaaa Sri Wickrama Rajasinghe is Indian kalathoni (Telgu) king who arrived 1795 ???

    HAD MR ran with the slogan SCRAP 13 AMENDMENT he would have WON BOTH elections. We don’t have to face this BS.- correct 2nd batch IPKF would have laned now – is that you wants any way !!!

  6. SA Kumar Says:

    Otherwise we should all get ready to become 3 parts of Endia – Tamil north, Muslim east, multicultural rest.- We are now & forever !
    NPC – Saiva TE
    EPC – Muslim TE
    Other 7 PCs – Sinhala Lanka

    United Mother Lanka ! kapth !

  7. Ananda-USA Says:

    Some may not like this, but then we are known to have short memories
    Just one more Ministerial Howler

    By Lalin Fernando
    August 26, 2015, 7:24 pm

    article_image
    Indian Peace Keeping Force jawans in Sri Lanka in 1990

    “How can they have the arrogance to dictate to us where we should go or which countries should be our friends. Gaddafi is my friend. He supported us when we were alone and when those who tried to prevent my visit here today were our enemies. They have no morals. We cannot accept that a state assumes the role of the world’s policeman’’

    (Nelson Mandela – on his visit to Libya for the African Council Meeting- 1997)

    Minister Eran Wickramaratne (EW) recently in response to a Al Jazeera TV interview question on the plight of the Northern Tamils after the 2015 general elections, dismissively and off the well worn cuff said, “It was the Rajapaksa regime that waged war on the Tamils” or words to that effect.

    Rajapaksa regime. This was the first time that the SL public has heard that it was the Rajapaksa ‘regime’ alone that waged ‘war’ on the terrorists. Successive SL governments, starting with the UNP in 1977, had done it ‘their way’. This included giving JRJ’s relative and not the Commander of the Army the task of wiping out the insurgency in 1979, a dream that ended in a nightmare. It included considering extraordinary methods learned from books like ‘resettlement’ (relocation of Northerners to the South) as in the 1950s Briggs plan in the Malayan Counter Insurgency. One President gifted weapons and ammo etc to the terrorists, hallucinating about making friends with the terrorists treacherously.

    Then there was the signing of a much-reviled and questionable ‘Cease Fire Agreement’ (CFA) with the terrorists. The CFA elevated them to the same status as the Government. A signatory had been led to believe by an alternative policy planning NGO among others, that the terrorists could not be defeated. It may have led to over of one third of SL being under the terrorists had it not been revoked by the ‘Rajapaksa regime’. The concessions in the CFA led to the decimation of the best under cover elite troops of the Special Forces. Those responsible were not charged with treachery. SL were stunned again when in 2002 they also saw their military officers on TV shaking hands and even saluting the terrorists. This was encouraged and desired by the government!

    This conflict was not against the Tamils but the Northern Terrorists . However it was President Jayewardene (JRJ) from the same party –UNP- who in 1977 during the race riots that declared ‘war’ on the Tamils. It was not MR 20 odd years on.

    The Northern insurgent movement had not resorted to terrorism in 1977. After the last communal riots in SL In 1983 under JRJ’s watch, tens of thousands Tamils seeking retribution, if not revenge, were driven out of the South, mainly Colombo. They queued up in thousands in Jaffna to join a roaring terrorist movement. Those tens of thousands that fled abroad began to provide the terrorists with money and propaganda. They looked to avenge their kin in their now desperate search for Eelam (separate state) and to escape any more communal frenzy and lesser national status. Fortunately, the majority, not the government, woke up. Their actions had boomeranged horribly on innocent Sinhalese. They never attacked Tamil civilians again.

    SL was called a ‘pariah ‘state for decades by these very same ’friendly’ states less India, but no one else. India believed at that time that SL was becoming a US vassal state and undermined SL’s efforts to overcome the ‘terras’.

    It was the Rakapaksa government (regime?) on 19 May 2009 that brought the conflict to an end suddenly to usher in peace total and complete. Captured terrorist cadres numbering 12,000, being about 30% of the terrorist fighting cadres, were rehabilitated and released within a year. It was a giant step towards national reconciliation. Paradoxically SL was accused by its ‘western friends’ of ‘war crimes’ advised by some local collaborators. It is a supreme irony that the US now says that the deaths of civilians used as human shields when attacking defences held by terrorists is not a crime. The original accusation was invalid in international law as repeatedly stated by Neville Laduwahetty and confirmed by Sir Desmond de Silva QC.

    What then was this Rajapaksa ‘regime’? Unless of course all governments of SL that are democratically elected and have a 2/3rds majority are called ‘regimes’ when or after combating terrorists.

    One can be vague and wooly, dismissive and derogatory when unable to give credible answers or appear completely clueless but still offer inane responses.

    ‘Traditional Friends’: Eran W, switching to foreign relations, said that SL would now get back to her ‘traditional friends in the West’ and India as well. SL had never ever gone away from India to begin with. China, it was said, would no longer play an important role. They may be taking bets on this in IPL India. Some SL ministers have a queer sense of humour!

    Western nations were colonizers at first. SL was under colonial rule for nearly 500 years. The colonial rulers left behind a well established, English speaking, Anglicized elite it could rely on in the future. Its plan has reached fruition.

    When the SL conflict was ending, the West attempted to interfere and rescue the terrorist leaders. If they had succeeded, the escaped terrorists could probably have regrouped and made preparations to fight another day. The Malayan ‘Communist Terrorists’ (CTs) did so under Chin Peng, who had escaped during General Templer’s command (1952-4). Thankfully the western ‘friends’ were rightly spurned in SL by the Army, SLAF and SL Navy.

    Over the past five years SL has been pilloried at Geneva by the ‘friends’. Would that those who pray to Western Gods remember when on TV what three gifts they brought to the East. They started with ‘social diseases’ that decimated populations from Asia and Africa to Hawaii.

    Subsequently ‘friendly’ India ‘invaded’ SL in 1987. The human rights record of the IPKF equalled that of the terrorists. They were hated in Jaffna, They lost 1,200 soldiers at the hands of the very same terrorists it had ironically trained, armed and supported logistically. Their inept performance gave the terrorists world wide publicity.

    SL’s long time Eastern friends meanwhile were fully supportive through thick and thin, good times and bad and worse, especally so when SL was taking heavy casualties, both military and civilian, from 1983 to 2009 and at Geneva after the conflict ended. Pakistan, China and Malaysia stood out prominently as friends. SL survived because of its servicemen and women in the defence forces, political leadership and the Eastern friends. Ministers are welcome to be selective about what the war achieved to serve their government. So can the citizens who however think differently.

  8. Ananda-USA Says:

    Ado LORENZO the TREACHEROUS Facebook HYPOCRITE!

    But YOU are the one who was ADVOCATING and HOISTING Somarama Sirisena and the Yamapalaanaya Junta on the Patriots here!

    We will NEVER FORGET your TREACHERY … you EELAMIST Agitator!

  9. Ananda-USA Says:

    Opposition should appoint Sri Lanka’s Opposition Leader, not President, NFF leader says

    Aug 30, Colombo: The leader of the National Freedom Front (NFF), a constituent party of the United People’s Freedom Alliance (UPFA), parliamentarian Wimal Weerawansa says the opposition leader of the Parliament should be chosen by MPs who sit in opposition and not by the President.

    Speaking to Media today, Weerawansa asked how can a national government can be formed when the opposition leader will get a ministerial post and members from the Sri Lanka freedom Party (SLFP) will be given the choice to go to the other side.

    The SLFP Central Committee allowed elected SLFP MPs to sit in opposition if they do not wish to support the national government. However, the Central Committee empowered the President to decide on an opposition leader and the ministerial portfolios given to SLFP members of the National Government.

    The NFF leader said that the so called National Government bringing a proposal in parliament to increase the ministerial portfolios is contradictory to the Constitution.

    He explained that in order to create a National Government, the SLFP must become stakeholders in the government and there will be no need for an opposition.

    “Even if parties hold positions in the government or not, they will all become stakeholders in the government. However, such political streams do not become so-called stakeholders in the government not even the entire Sri Lanka Freedom party,” he said.

    Weerawansa said the government cannot implement such a proposal and bringing in such a proposal is contradictory to the constitution.

    Speaking to BBC Sandeshaya Weerawansa said the President is killing the country’s democracy by appointing the Prime Minister, the Cabinet, the Opposition Leader and the Chief Organizer of the Opposition all by himself.

    Weerawansa said that it was not sufficient to allow SLFP MPs to sit in opposition. They should be free to act as they wish within the opposition.

    He said the former president Mahinda Rajapaksa and several SLFP MPs will sit in the opposition with the other UPFA members.

  10. Ananda-USA Says:

    Bravo …. Wimal Weerawansa … you are almost the ONLY HONEST MAN with GUTS left among the Greedy Ship Jumpers!

    I hope that MORE and MORE UPFA/SLFP MPs will join to form a SEPARATE Opposition Party and BRING THIS Yamapalanaya Govt to its KNEES!

    It is IMPORTANT to PREVENT the Anti-National LEGISLATIVE AGENDA of the UNPatriotic Party and its TNA Allies from EVER TAKING ROOT!

    Newly Elected SLFP MPs! FORM a NEW Opposition Party NOW to PREVENT your Motherland from being made a Colony of the Western NeoColonialists and CHOPPED INTO PIECES to serve their NeoColonialist NGO and Tamil Diaspora-Driven Agenda!

    IF YOU FAIL TO DO SO …. you will EARN the WRATH of those Patriotic Citizens who ELECTED YOU! They didn’t vote for you to SELL THEM OUT for a Political/Government Job and a BAG of money!

    Don’t be BRIBED and CONNED into BETRAYING your Motherland! WE Patriots are WATCHING YOU CLOSELY!

    REMEMBER …. YOU are OUR ONLY DEFENCE against the DISINTEGRATION and RE-ENSLAVEMENT of OUR Motherland!

    …………………………
    President calls for a meeting with UPFA party leaders tomorrow

    Aug 30, Colombo: Sri Lanka’s President Maithripala Sirisena has invited the leaders of the parties in the defeated United People’s Freedom Alliance (UPFA) for a meeting Monday.

    According to the leader of the UPFA constituent party National Freedom Front (NFF) MP Wimal Weerawansa the meeting will take place at the President’s official residence tomorrow morning.

    He said he will be attending the meeting to express his views on several issues including his opposition to a national government between the United National Party and the Sri Lanka Freedom Party.

  11. Indrajith Says:

    I agree with Ananda; Wimal shows very good leadership qualities. I earnestly believe that Wimal and Udaya will continue our freedom struggle in the future sessions of the SL parliament!

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