Posted on July 20th, 2022


JVP was allowed to register as a political party in 1981. The first elections the JVP contested were District Development Councils elections.  JVP contested four seats in the District Development Councils election in 1981, and won two.  The seats were Colombo, Gampaha, and Galle. I was unable to find out what the fourth was,   probably Matara. JVP participated in the District Development Council (DDC) elections of 1982 too.

JVP then started to regularly contest the two major national elections, General and Presidential.JVP made sure that it had a presence, however small, in each election. Rohana Wijeweera contested the Presidential Elections in 1982 and obtained 4.16% of the votes cast.   He received more votes than Colvin R. de Silva. 

 JVP got one seat in Hambantota district in the general election of1994, under the name of the National Salvation Front. The next significant election, for the JVP, was the General election of 2000. JVP won 10 seats in the parliament, and recorded 6 per cent out of the total valid votes.

JVP further broadened its voter base at the following election in 2001, with 16 seats and 9.10% per cent of the vote. There was every sign at this juncture of JVP emerging as a serious threat to the existing two-party system, especially with its growing ability to attract the support of the semi-urban middle classes, said  Nirmal Dewasiri.

The JVP’s best performance in terms of Parliamentary representation was in 2004, when it contested in coalition with the SLFP-led alliance. Using the tactic of nominating only a few candidates in each electoral list, it secured 39 Seats in Parliament and became a crucial partner in the government. This was possible because of its alliance with the SLFP. The number of its seats plummeted when it chose to go it alone at subsequent elections.

Somawansa Amarasinghe retired as JVP leader in 2014, following a series of internal disputes in the party and Anura Kumara Dissanayake  took over. Dissanayake has however failed to elevate the JVP’s standing.

At the 2015 general election JVP only got 4.87 % and six seats.  One reason was the rush to Hansaya. JV P was there to support the Yahapalana government, said the Opposition. The Joint Opposition called them ‘Rathu Ali’. Verité Research however had ranked four of the six JVP MPs among the top five MPs for their work ethic.

JVP did not come forward at the 2015 presidential election in a strategic move that enabled Maitripala Sirisena to win the poll, JVP leader Anura Kumara Dissanayake contested the 2019 election. He polled over 400,000 votes  At a media briefing it was said that he was supported by 29 organizations  including civil society organizations,. However, he  only got 3.16% of the total votes. This is the lowest percentage JVP has got so far, commented analysts.  It was less than what Wijeweera polled in 1982.

In the 2020 general election JVP got only three seats as opposed to six it had in the last Parliament. For the 2020 general election, the JVP formed a new party, the Jatika Jana Balavegaya or  National People’s Power (NPP).   This is  nothing more than an ‘alias’ for the JVP said critics.

Of the six seats JVP had in the 2015 Parliament, JVP could retain only three of them in 2020.These were in Colombo and an ]adjoining urban centre’  at Gampaha. JVP lost badly in the areas that constituted the heartland of its militancy such as Matara, Galle, Hambantota and Moneragala. The present-day JVP leaders have lost their hold on the Wijeweera belt, which stretches along the southern littoral, said the Island editorial.

JVP only obtained 3.84% of the total vote at the General election of 2020. This election showed that the JVP support base was shrinking said the  Island editorial.    Analysts observed that a sizeable segment of UNP votes had gone to the JVP, which means the true JVP vote is less than even 3.84%.

JVP was not upset. We are not a party that judges our popularity based only on votes,”  Dissanayake remarked when questioned on the disappointing results. If an election was held under normal circumstances, we think we would receive far more votes. We, of course, do want to attract more voters and improve our performances,” he observed.

JVP  said we are far ahead of the rest. We fielded the best qualified candidates with unblemished records”. Our movement is honest, free of corruption and committed to working for the betterment of the country. The people know that, but that is still not enough for them to vote for us.

Island editorial did a quick survey of JVP votes. one MP (elected on the Sri Lanka Progressive Front ticket) in 1994; 10 MPs in 2000; 16 MPs in 2001; 39 (from the UPFA) in 2004; four MPs (from the Democratic National Alliance) in 2010; six MPs in 2015 and three MPs in 2020.

JVP has contested Presidential and General Elections and has had mixed results, said analysts. While it has been able to maintain its status as the third largest political party in the country after the two major parties, the UNP and the SLFP, it has never had a real prospect of forming its own Government.

JVP’s performance at elections is not impressive. The number of its MPs in Parliament declined at every election since a high of 39 MPs in 2004 (when it contested under the UPFA. This  showed that that voters still haven’t forgiven the JVP for atrocities during the 1971 and 1987-89 insurrections, said critics.

The JVP is known for its policy inconsistencies, contradictions and about-turns,  said an Island editorial. It contested the elections for the Provincial Councils, which it had initially  bitterly opposed. Having once bombed Parliament, it contested Parliamentary Elections too.

On the political front, JVP has made  alliances with parties it continues to call enemies.” In 1970, it backed the SLFP-led United Front, which consisted of progressive left-wing parties. The following year, it took up arms against the government formed by that coalition. In the late 1970s, it went politically steady with the UNP under J. R. Jayewardene, who released Wijeweera and others from prison, so much so that its critics called the JVP ‘Jayawardene Vijeweera Peramuna’.

A few years later it turned against the JRJ regime, which banned it, and caused another bloodbath by embarking on its second campaign of terror.

Victor Ivan said that in his opinion it was the violent political atmosphere after the JVP insurgency that helped Premadasa to win the Presidential election  in 1989. JVP boycotted the election and killed those who worked for the election. They attacked polling  centers and killed several election officers.

JVP became part of the United People’s Freedom Alliance (UPFA) Government of Chandrika Kumaratunga in 2004. In 2004, it closed ranks with the UPFA led by Chandrika Bandaranaike Kumaratunga, and left her administration over a government move to share tsunami relief with the LTTE. In 2005, it backed Mahinda Rajapaksa in the presidential fray, making a tremendous contribution to his victory; thereafter, it fell out with him and tried to topple his government.

JVP offered implicit support to common candidate Maitripala Sirisena during the 2015 presidential election. It was also accused of backing the Yahapalana Government behind the scenes.

In 2015, it threw in its lot with a UNP-led coalition, which fielded Maitripala Sirisena as its presidential candidate and captured power in Parliament following his victory. Its honeymoon with the UNP lasted several years before it took on the UNP-led government and Sirisena both when they became extremely unpopular.

The General  elections of 2010 and 2015 showed a link between JVP and UNP. the UNP-led coalition, that backed former Army Commander Gen. Sarath Fonseka and Maitripala Sirisena at 2010 and 2015 presidential elections, respectively, included the JVP.

JVP  cuddled up to the UNP, said  critics. The UNP and JVP are now almost conjoined. JVP often provides the   crucial support to decide between victory and defeat and survival for the UNP government in parliament,   concluded one critics.

This kind of political promiscuity has cost the JVP dear both politically and electorally as can be seen from the number of seats it has secured at the general elections over the years.

It did win many Parliamentary Seats while in a partnership with the Sri Lanka Freedom Party (SLFP), but once it entered the fray on its own, it has generally fared very badly. In fact, it could only gain around 3 percent of the vote at the last two national elections, said a Daily News editorial in 2019.

JVP has not yet been able to position itself precisely on the political spectrum. What made it attractive to the youth was its radical ideology as well as the mystique surrounding it. Today, it is devoid of any mystique and its ideology has been diluted.

JVP has shown promise of becoming the ‘third force’ in Sri Lankan politics from time to time but has not lived up to that promise. The problem for the JVP was that it could not quite efface its dark past, even if the transformation itself was impressive.  JVP has never really acknowledged that its actions in 1971 and 1989 were flawed and apologized to the nation.

The JVP has managed to survive as a political party with parliamentary representation only because of the proportional representation system. JVP  would not have had a snowflake’s chance in hell of making it to Parliament under a first past the post system, said Chandraprema, bluntly.

JVP is not a popular party.  The JVP have huge floats  Karl Marx and Lenin  in their May Day processions to hide the fact that  they have very few supporters marching with them. Bu it is determined to keep going.

Looking back, it appears that Sri Lanka has instinctively realized what JVP is: a brutal political entity. A wolf in sheep’s clothing. Underneath its flowery rhetoric of democracy, liberty, secularism and freedom of the press and speech, the JVP remains true to its origins fifty plus years ago. Its insatiable appetite for violence as a means to achieve power was vividly shown in the late 1980s. This may be the reason that JVP was never able to break the four-percent barrier – the percentage of votes it has consistently received since it entered parliamentary politics, said former JVPer Indrawansa de Silva.

Over the past fifty years, the JVP had many opportunities to come clean of its sins but it hasn’t even tried to pretend it will do so. The JVP has done nothing wrong, the argument goes. All the carnage it created was the results of reactionaries” traitors” and the class-enemies” who infiltrated the party to destroy it. At a forum in Europe, when faced with the question of atrocities committed during the so-called second uprising in the late 1980s, the current leader of JVP sought the cover of Mao’s rhetoric again: revolution is not a dinner party, he answered, added Indrawansa.

JVP admirers are in a minority. One commentator summarized what most  of the public think of the JVP .  The JVP has a blood soaked, murderous and genocidal history, he said. The JVP brutalized a generation twice, once in 1971 and then in 1989-90.

But JVP has its admirers. The JVP has come a long way since its two armed insurrections and the passing of the leadership from the old school and discredited past of Somawansa Amarasinghe to the younger generation of Anura Kumara Dissanayake, said JVP admirers.

JVP bashing should end   said K Siriweera. In parliament,  at political meetings and in many other for a  present JVP members are criticized for incidents that took place in 1971-89 period.  Anura Kumara Dissanayake and his group were not involved in these criminal acts. Further they have shown excellent behavior since they came into the political scene. It is sickening to see politicians who are involved in anti social activities shout about events that happened decades ago to demonize a group who are thousand times better than them.

A set of University  academics got together and  urged the public to vote for   the JVP  Balavegaya at the 2020 election. Several of them came from leftist parties and were open supporters of Separatism.

These academics made a strong appeal for the  JJB which they called NPP. Only the NPP has a sound plan to save this country, they said. The NPP was formed with the hope of saving the country from its present predicament and people should extend their support by voting for it.

The academics stressed the need for electing honest, capable candidates as MPs to solve the problems and threats the people were faced with. . The NPP has experts and academics who have drafted a credible programme for Lanka’s economic future.  NPP has the only Parliamentarians with an unblemished record of financial integrity, incorruptibility and devotion to their tasks in the last three decades have been MPs elected from the JVP,  they chorused.  The academics said that The NPP will be a strong voice and the only real force standing both inside and outside parliament for a democratic polity and against dictatorship, they said.

Isn’t it time to embrace the JVP as the third force and enable them to lead the people asked Camillus Fernando in April 2021. I was frankly struck by the manifesto issued by the JVP. It is reflective and thought provoking. A candid statement, aware of the needs of the people and aimed at achieving the sincere progress of the nation. It redefines the definition of conscience. Its primary objective is unity among diversity of classes, broken and divided by religion/caste/creed/ethnicity.

Practical solutions for the economic prosperity of the people are offered. The candidates are men of education and experience, drawn from all walks of life and professions. Integrity, honesty, sheer hard work are some of their traits. There seems no room for corruption. Reconciliation with the people seems to be their goal – they denounce revolution. With humility they seek forgiveness for the lapses of the past in 1971 and 1989.Can’t we forgive them and accept and embrace them as this third force in politics to enable them to lead the country and its people asked Camillus Fernando.

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