JVP delusions and nationalist victory
Posted on February 28th, 2018

By Rohana R. Wasala Courtesy The Island

At the outset, I’d like to make it clear to the reader that the word ‘nationalism’ (and related forms) is used here in its basic meaning of ‘the love of one’s country, the principles, and efforts that the feeling characterizes’. But in Sri Lanka today, anti-nationalist agents, propagandists and critics use the term in its negative secondary sense of ‘the extremist form of love of one’s country that is characterized by a feeling of superiority over other nations or countries’ to attack the patriotic majority of Sri Lankans. I make no apology for believing in nationalism being the positive concept that is described in the first definition. There are no Sri Lankan nationalists of the secondary variety. Patriotic Sri Lankans are multiethnic. Sinhalese Buddhists who form the majority community are humble to a fault in their interactions with people of other races and religions.

The resounding victory of the Sri Lanka Podujana Peramuna (SLPP) symbolized by the Pohottuwa (Lotus Bud) at the recent local government election is something that was eagerly wished for and confidently expected by the sensible majority of the Sri Lankan electorate. The extremely unpopular yahapalana government will be unable to follow its original plans through, including its controversial constitution making project (which was itself predicated on false war crimes allegations against Sri Lanka at Geneva). This is the first time since 1948 that a party/alliance in power lost at LG polls. But this time the local government election assumed national importance; people took it as an opportunity to give vent to their suppressed anger and disaffection with the government over its performance at the national level. It became an unofficial referendum on the government. The anti-government vote means that the yahapalana regime can no longer find refuge in the so-called popular mandate they claimed to have got in 2015. From the nation’s point of view, this is a crucial moment in the political history of our country.  The tide has finally turned in favour of their (i.e., yahapalanaya’s) challengers. All kinds of misinterpretations of the election result that are being offered and the wily ruses that are being practiced in order to flout the anti-government will of the vast majority of the people will have unfortunate consequences.  Forestalling that tragic eventuality is the responsibility of the 225 people’s representatives in the current parliament.

Official opposition and TNA leader R. Sampanthan’s fallacious argument in his recent parliamentary speech as reported in The Island of February 22, 2018 (‘Lotus Bud will bloom into Eelam’) that former Mahinda Rajapaksa got only 45% of the vote at the countrywide  LG elections as against 55% against him might convince only some idiots and fanatical supporters of the yahapalana regime. To arrive at the figure 55%, he simply adds up the measly percentages scored by his yahapalana comrades in arms of 2015 (the UNP, SLFP, TNA, JVP, etc) more against each other than against Mahinda Rajapaksa. It is well known that by now they have fallen foul of each other, but are obliged to maintain a façade of unity in disunity for the sake of common survival. So, the votes they polled cannot be added up as votes cast against Mahinda Rajapaksa. It is more rational to invert Sampanthan’s argument and say that Mahinda Rajapkasa has emerged as the leader who is the least disliked, that is, the one most approved of in the whole country. His equally untenable argument that the ‘Lotus Bud will bloom into Eelam’ because, as he falsely implies, Mahinda Rajapaksa’s alleged appeal to what Tamil racists including himself denounce as Sinhala chauvinism will leave the Tamil people no option but to create a separate state. A cooler analysis of the LG election results than octogenarian Sampanthan would like to accept will demonstrate the fact that, in national politics, Mahinda Rajapaksa is more popular even among the Tamils than he himself is in his own region.

Sampanthan is making history as a unique Leader of Opposition who is anxious to save an unpopular government from being ousted in the national interest. JVP leader Anura Kumara Dissanayake, the chief organizer of the opposition is no better. He is seemingly  worried about the purported rift between the prez and the pm that is likely to endanger the government’s survival.  All this means that the official opposition has abandoned its legitimate role of offering an  alternative to the government, but is serving as a faithful sidekick to it. The role of a democratic opposition is today being played by the Joint Opposition.

Fr J.C. Pieris of Galle laments the decisive rejection of the JVP at the LG polls in an opinion piece in The Island of February 21, (‘This deadly illusion of democracy’).  He expected the JVP to do well in the election as crusaders against corruption in politics. Corruption is bad and it must be eliminated for the country to make headway.  However, the problem cannot be solved until and unless the government and the opposition address it together as a national issue. Like many other vital issues, the problem of corruption has been heavily politicized. What has always happened and is still happening is that both sides (which periodically alternate in governing the country) use corruption allegations, whether true or false, against each other as weapons of attack, while doing hardly anything to stop the evil of corruption itself. This by itself is a crime. Though corruption is a perennial problem and it must be tackled sooner or later, it is not the burning issue that the yahapalana apologists make it out to be. The infinitely more important issue that must be resolved is the real danger of the country being divided on ethnic lines based on a federalist constitution thrust on us from outside. No one can object to JVP’s anti-corruption ideology. But the truth is that the JVP has had no chance yet to enjoy power at the top and demonstrate its own often touted incorruptibility. Sadly, in the absence of a clear vision and a visionary leadership, the JVP is going the way of all its predecessors – coming with a bang and dying with a whimper. It may be that their empty rhetoric fails to convince the masses. This time it has been soundly beaten by its chosen target for elimination – the bloc represented by the genuine SLFP (of the pre-yahapalana days), and now by the SLPP or the Lotus Bud alliance.

A prominent member of the SLPP, Wimal Weerawansa, has characterized it as a ‘second 1956 revolution’, a change that involves a decisive victory by the nationalist forces over the UNP-led pro-Western neoconservatives cum neoliberals. Former president Mahinda Rajapaksa, the unofficial leader of the SLPP and the rallying point of forces opposed to the present government,   proposes that the current parliament be dissolved forthwith and a new parliament be elected in order to install a stable government; if that is not possible, he demands that the Joint Opposition be recognized as the official opposition for the rest of the government’s term. A spokesperson for the SLPP has hinted that members of the SLFP faction in the government could join them in defeating controversial harmful legislation moves, if any, by the yahapalanaya. However, that could only be a kind of tacit agreement between the members of the heavily defeated SLFP and the blossoming  new party the SLPP.

When the nationalists, coming from all communities, organized as the SLPP under the iconic leadership of Mahinda Rajapaksa are democratically elected to power in the near future, in less than two years’ time in fact, they will have to restore the country to the point where it reached in the 2009 to 2014 period after overcoming  the separatist terrorism that had plagued it for nearly thirty years. That feat of 2009 was achieved by the nationalists with the willing support of all the communities that the Sri Lankan nation comprises. Soon they will have to launch a sound instauration program  whose crucial features must be, in my opinion, the following three, as articulated by a young intellectual of our time, legal luminary Dharshan Weerasekera:  1. A comprehensive plan to destroy the Tamil separatist movement once and for all, 2. A comprehensive economic plan, and 3. A comprehensive plan of constitutional reform (lankaweb.com/news/items/2018/02/13). This is a job for the nationalists.


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