Posted on May 25th, 2024

By Sena Thoradeniya

(Continued from May 18, 2024)

1.Personal Attributes of GR

Though he failed as a President due to various factors and had to abdicate his presidency, there were many personal attributes favourable to GR. These personal attributes profoundly augmented his victory at the Presidential Elections. He was hailed and acclaimed as a hero and a leader who rescued Mother Lanka from the clutches of separatists as the Secretary of Defense, brother of MR who gave political leadership to the war efforts. He was responsible for urban development and beautification of the city as the Secretary of Urban Development, much-admired as a worker who showed results, a straightforward, simple, no-nonsense man, feared as a person who cleaned the underworld, not a showman who did not don the Rajapaksa trademark satakaya.

Even though this aspect was not brought to the winning equation, he was the son of D.A. Rajapaksa, nephew of D. M. Rajapaksa and cousin of George Rajapaksa, formidable persona in national and local politics. Although vilified by the Galle Face protesters later for the comparison, labelling him as a Lee Kuan Yu, a Mahathir Mohamed and a Putin, added more vigor to his election campaign and the resultant victory.

Does Malimawa and Anura Kumara have such advantages as GR? None.

Above all else, it was the last chance the Sri Lankans got to free themselves from US and Indian meddling and their lackeys as the disintegration of the national state and the recolonization of the country under a different guise were imminent. Full implementation of the 13th Amendment, inking ETCA, SOFA, ACSA and other agreements detrimental to Sri Lankan State, granting whatever possible rewards to Tamil Eaalamists and Tamil diaspora were in the offing. Magnitude of these issues were exhibited at the Galle Face Protest that resulted in ousting him, less than three years after coming into power.

The handlers of Galle Face protesters succeeded in disintegrating the nationalist forces and making the national movement weakened and leaderless. Some of those who were in the forefront of GR’s campaign had gone to the camp of the enemy.

Can Anura Kumara, Sajith Premadasa, Ranil Wickremasinghe or any other dissident of SLPP who bellow rhetoric from rooftops, substitute the leadership of the nationalist forces. Highly unlikely. Mainly for the simple reason that their foreign masters and local allies will not allow them for such an alignment.    

2. Leadership Qualities of Anura Kumara

Without going into a detailed account of leadership theories, briefly we state that leadership is simply described as the ability to influence others. Hallmark of leadership is power coupled with influence. Anura Kumara may have power as the leader of the JVP/NPP; but it is doubtful whether he has influence over all his members. Gaining power as the elected President and influencing most of the countrymen are herculean tasks.   He has gained legitimate power because at present he is the leader of his party; but again, it is doubtful whether he has expert power (power through expertise) and referent power (initiation, power through personal identification, inspirational appeal and charisma), two vital sources of leadership, power and influence. The leaders were told to be wise, bold, willing to compromise and well-advised.

What we observe in Anura Kumara is that he is very good at information distortion or twisting facts and providing absurd interpretations to known facts, events and persona, a dubious method used by him to remain as the leader or a main contender for the top post.

3. Great” Man Theory and Trait Approach

Although it appears archaic and feudalistic and despite major criticisms levelled against Great Man” Theory and Trait Approach, they are still adopted to predict leadership behaviours and abilities of leaders/politicians.  Great Man” theory of leadership implied that some persons are born with certain traits that allow them to emerge out of a situation or history to become leaders. How great leaders shaped the destiny of their countries or world? Were there something extraordinary in their personalities, attitudes, behaviours and perceptions that enabled them to have a profound impact on history?

This evolved into Trait Theory of leadership. The underlying assumption of the trait approach is the existence of some basic traits or a set of traits that differentiate leaders from non-leaders. They are physical, personality, personaland social traits that distinguish leaders from non-leaders.  This list is very long. Personal appearance, attractiveness, above-average height; self-esteem, integrity, confidence;speaking skills (speaking ability is not verbosity or pomposity, occupying the rostrum for hours and hours, blastingmicrophones;the speaker should be able to speak to different types of audiences, adopting his theme and style to suit the specific audience; listen to what Sajith Premadasa utters in his  many encounters with school children), power to influence others,  the art of providing solutions to identified problems, intelligence or ability to process information and analyse alternatives, will to translate words into deeds, good vocabulary, self-confidence, non-verbal communication (there are many); judgement, intelligence, intellectual capacity, empathy, patience; are some of these traits.

Some people become leaders because leadership is thrust upon them. We have experienced that catastrophe in 2005 electing a Grama Sevaka as the President.

4. Trait Approach Applied to Anura Kumara

General perception of the people outside JVP/NPP circles about Anura Kumar is not so positive; some of his adversaries say that his inability to converse in English is his biggest drawback; this is the reason why right liberals and NGO cabal who support NPP promote Harini Amarasuriya above him. We do not think that this as a disadvantage as he can get the services of whispering interpreters or simultaneous interpreters (using headphones) if he is elected as the Head of State when he meets with foreign leaders. But his adversaries argue that being a citizen of an English colony his position is quite different from a leader who speaks either Spanish, Chinese or Korean. Leaders of Anglophone” Africa of western, eastern and southern parts of Africa do not encounter this problem.

Anura Kumara is timid in his appearance with foreign envoys. He cut a sorry figure in his meetings with Julie Chung, kowtowing as her baggage boy on the eve of his departure to the US; but this man in his meetings denigrates Pohottuwa supporters as a set of serfs who bend as arecanut trees before Basil.

Many questions are raised about his personal life (his marriage, children, how his children got employment etc.). In Sri Lanka personal life plays a major role in national politics. Against this backdrop how could Anura Kumara poll exceeding 50% (or as some say 70 lakhs of votes) of the total votes cast and Malimawaobtaining 113 or 2/3 as some say at the next parliamentary elections?

Somavansa Amarasinghe the late leader of JVP, who succeeded Wijeweera, writing a book titled Janatha Vimukthi Peramuna Vandaneeyayi- Hathara Denage Kalliya Nindaneeyayi” (Glory to the JVP- Down with the Gang of Four) in 2015 discloses reasons for his leaving the JVP. He branded Anura Kumara, Tilvin Silva, Lal Kantha and Vijitha Herath as the Gang of Four. Condemning them as the people who ruined the JVP he adds that all these are conceited mutts, ethically corrupt, degenerated to the core who are averse to self-criticism.  Amarasinghe says that Anura Kumara became conceited after becoming the leader, he is suffering from both inferiority complex as well as superiority complex; feeling inferior because he is a short person.  He says Lal Kantha after the demise of Wijeweera thought JVP was over and began to sell ice cream and yoghurt. Our informants say that he was a small-scale chicken farmer.

There is no correlation between height and effectiveness of leadership although height is considered as an integral part of physical traits of a leader. Queen Victoria, Napoleon, Lenin, Stalin, Khrushchev, Deng Xiaoping, Churchill, Hitler, Mussolini, Gandhi and many more were short people. They were effective leaders as well. It is ludicrous bringing above – mentioned leaders for a comparison with Anura Kumara.  But in Sri Lanka among the villagers there is a saying, not to trust short men and tiny anthills (miti minihai- miti humbahai visvasa karanta epa”).

Without any sizable votes from North, East and the Hill Country, Anura Kumara does not have any favourable political, socio-cultural factors to boost his campaign in the South. He does not have any special personal attributes except rhetoric and arrogance, scaring his opponents with harsh treatment once he comes into power. Platform oratory does not bring votes. Now JVPers have become an elitist group in Sri Lanka with a penchant for high end designer ware.

Can JVP/ NPP reveal the amount they receive as funds, their funding sources? Can they fool the people anymore that they wear high end designer ware given to them by others? Not a single JVP/NPP bigwig wears the same dress any other day or for any other occasion. Even the old Tilvin matches with the young mavericks.

5. Anura Kumara’s Shallowness and Ignorance

Integrity, intellectual capacity, sound theoretical background, at least a fundamental knowledge of historical, cultural and sociological factors are essential ingredients needed to be an effective leader. We observe that Anura Kumara lacks these rudiments except bellowing and thunder at public meetings and You Tube interviews, shouting in a deep voice. This is not a good trait of a leader. It is said that ignorance is the enemy of its owner.

In a You Tube interview we heard Anura Kumara marketing his childhood poverty; being impoverished he was forced to sell mangoes, cigarettes, toffees and lozenges in train during school vacations; did earthwork earning 20 rupees a day. But he vilifies parliamentarians who have humble beginnings. At the pensioners’ meeting held recently he scoffed at a Southern politician as Canter Piyasena”. Was he referring to a person who operated Canter excavator?

He said that he wore old broken slippers to school; is that the reason JVP and its offshoot FSP forcing freshers to wear bathroom slippers and hand sewn cheetta (chintz) frocks and carry silisili bags? 

 He said that his family did not have a postal address; that their postal address was deke signal kanuwa” (second signal post).

In villages we did not have house numbers until recently. As postal addresses we had person’s name, village name and postal town without house numbers. Postmen knew villagers by their names and in which hamlet of the village they lived as a very few people of the village received letters. Sometimes letters were kept at the village co-op store. Villagers were identified by Walawwas, Gedera Names (for example Batagalle Gedera, Viyannala Gedera) or the hamlet they lived (for example Giradeniya Gammadda, Puwakgahadeniya Gammadda ) or by the profession of the addressee (as iskole mahattaya, p(f)iscal mahattaya, op(ff)icer(a) mahattaya, veda mahattaya) or by a watta (highland- for example Gurugalwala Watta) or a locus (or loci)- place/s of residence (concentrations of kinsmen) identified with certain castes,a natural or man-made landmark (for example a tree as in nagahamula, galambalama, iskole langa or deke ela” (channel no. 2-  in colonization schemes), deke signal kanuwa” as in Anura Kumara’s case). Having no house number did not signify poverty. To understand this one should not be an expert in Rural Sociology.

To dispel criticisms leveled against top members of his team, Anura Kumara said that Vijitha Herath’s wife owned a row of houses and boutiques at Narahenpita including Mahinda’s Abayaramaya; Lal kantha’s father was a landlord at Mihintale (what land at Mihintale except jungles and shrubs? Somavansa Amarasinghe wrote that Lal Kantha was selling ice cream and yoghurt); further Anura Kumara stated that Wasantha Samarasinghe belonged to a Gambhara family in Tambuttegama in the NCP (earlier dense jungle area, cultivated from Mahaveli waters). What Anura Kumara wanted to drive home was that his people are not poor beggars”.

Tracing origins of Samarasinghe to Gambharaya System in Tambuttegama showed Anura Kumara’s poor knowledge of sociological factors. Who were Gambharayas? Were there Gambharayas in NCP? Refer any source from earliest times from – R.W. Ivers, English Government Agent of NCP, who wrote Manual of the North Central Province” (1899), to Prof. Ralph Peiris or Prof. Ukku Banda Karunananda.

Gambharaya System now defunct, existed in the Hambantota District since 1880s when new lands were bought by rich people who lived outside the district. All of them were absentee-landlords. They wanted managers-agents to supervise cultivation activities of their fields. This manager-agent was known as gambharaya, an intermediary between the absentee – landlord and landless tenant farmers and hired migrant laborers respectively. Gambaraya provided working capital, seed paddy, farm utensils and buffaloes to the cultivators and collected the harvest. Since large tracts of paddy needed many buffaloes for ploughing and threshing gambharayas became owners of large herds of cattle. Landless tenant farmers and hired migrant laborers were dependent on him. Gambaraya was an exploiter, oppressor and a ruthless money-lender, all in one. They were able to control the personal and familial lives of the tenant cultivators. Paddy Lands Act of 1958 and Land Reforms in 1972 brought changes in the Gambaraya System.

Anura Kumara who worked in Hambantota District as a novice political activist should have studied its socio-economic conditions before mobilizing youth as cannon fodder. Still he has time to read what the late Prof. Hiran Dias (1976) had wrote about Gambaraya System. The term Gambaraya was loosely used to descendants of old Gambarayas or cattle owners who have large herds of cattle grazing together, sometimes exceeding 1000 animals, especially in areas such as Suriyawewa, Badagiriya and Angunukolapelessa.

These peasant producers did not possess the means of production – land etc.  To my knowledge our researchers have not investigated whether the Gambharaya System, an example for agrarian capitalism or shows agrarian origins of capitalism. Servile forms of dependence of the peasants were retained by this system. We are unaware whether Anura Kumara extols this archaic system connecting it to his labour aristocrat Samarasinghe.

Marketing his childhood poverty, Anura Kumara warns us not to treat JVP/NPP as a party of the poor; according to him they are not a party of the poor but a party that works for the poor. Judging by their life styles and their sartorial elegance nobody doubts that JVP/NPP is a party of the poor.

This statement has a profound significance as it shows the right deviationist politics of the JVP/NPP, how they have metamorphosized into a party of upper segments of the middle class.

Although the old left- LSSP and CP had many weaknesses they never said that their parties were not the parties of workers and peasants. Although a corrupted version of L’Internationale (Arise ye workers from your slumbers- Arise ye prisoners of want”) they still sing, sadukin pelenawun den ithin nagitiyaw”. Did the Bolshevik Party or CPC say that theirs were not parties of workers, peasants and exploited and oppressed people?

At a meeting held in a foreign country Anura Kumara was asked by a member of the audience his views about multilingualism, multiculturalism and LGBTQIA+ rights. Instead of giving a straightforward answer he digressed and talked about customs, traditions and norms associated with different religions. The person who raised the question may have forgotten what he had asked in the process. What he wanted to drive home was that Buddhist politicians are using so-called purity of Theravada Buddhism to come into power. He did not mention how Christians, Hindus and Muslims using their own religions to come into power and ISIS terrorists who used religion to carryout Easter Sunday massacre (sons of his National List man) or how Tamil Hindu politicians placing sivalingams and performing Pongal in ancient Buddhist Viharas in the North and the East for political expediency.

In this instance also he showed his ignorance saying Hindus have Geethavaliya as their Holy Book (instead of Bhagavat Geetha).  Geethavaliya is the Sinhala word for Psalms, a book in the Old Testament. Should we pardon the Born-Again cosmopolitan person Anura Kumara for these lapses, who made graphite from miniran addressing an audience in the US?

It was reported that the Indians are ready to acquire our graphite mines; so far, no word from the JVP/NPP leader who wanted to make graphene from graphite when he comes into power.

Anura Kumara’s ignorance of mineral resources of Sri Lanka was revealed when he said in America that he will turn our miniran (plumbago/graphite) into graphite to earn more foreign exchange and resuscitate the economy. If he meant graphene by graphite, in our article posted on November 1st, 2023, we described what is meant by graphene and questioned how he is going to isolategraphene and obtain the knowhow, expertise, infrastructure and investment to isolategraphene.

Marketing childhood poverty is a ruse used by many who rose from downstairs to take control of the affairs upstairs. Another NPP central committee academic attached to Peradeniya in his formative years used to announce that his father was an illiterate carpenter and he as an undergrad broke metal and mixed concrete at construction sites around Colombo. Another NPP academic from Rajarata now bellows that his father was a bothal paththara karaya” (a collector of old bottles and newspapers) who fed 9 children with his daily earnings. All these bitter memories evaporate into thin air when they marry (mostly their undergraduate- students) and send their children either to Trinity or Kandy Girls’ High School!  

6. The myth that JVP/NPP did not participate in governance

The JVP/NPP show themselves to the gullible voters as a set of paragons of virtue, an unspoiled, uncorrupted lot who preserve their purity. But the history of JVP reveals something else.

JVP supported the Coalition at the 1970 elections, and within less than a year took arms against it. Getting an amnesty from JRJ, Wijeweera started a campaign against SLFP Gamanaka Avasanaya” (End of a Journey) to weaken JRJ’s main rival Sirimavo; supported JRJ in 1980, working against the General Strike.

JVP mooteda Parivasa Anduwa” supporting CBK; four JVP bigwigs received Ministerial appointments under CBK.Anura Kumara in 2004 was CBK’s Minister of Agriculture, Livestock Development, Lands and Irrigation, lifeblood of millions of peasants. His deputy was Bimal Ratnayaka, husband of NPP Central Committee member who proposed legalizing prostitution in Sri Lanka.

What did Anura Kumara do with this important portfolio to the country in general and peasants in particular? At least he was not able to enlarge his voter base. Failing miserably as a minister he had to abandon Kurunegala District (one of the largest agricultural areas in Sri Lanka) and find refuge in Colombo District which has the strongest middle class backing to him.

Can such a person rescue a country from this political, economic and social turmoil?

Fisheries and Aquatic Resources, another vital area that can be utilized to mobilize people in support of their cause was given to Chandrasena Wijesinghe; Nihal Galappaththi who hails from a fisher family was made his deputy.

The next vital Ministry which has a bigger impact to rural artisans, craftsmen, small scale industrialists- Rural Industries became the domain of bigmouthed Lal Kantha; his Deputy was Sunil Handunnetti, who talks much about economy, tipped to be Anura Kumara’s Finance Minister in his fairy-tale cabinet. Cultural and National Heritages, responsible for art, literature, culture including the most important National Film Corporation were in the hands of Vijitha Herath; his deputy was know-it-all man, Samantha Vidyaratna who attempted to sabotage Uma Oya hydroelectricity project. Where were these environmental crusaders when JR Government devastated Dumbara Valley under Accelerated Mahaveli Project?

As we have expressed in our earlier writings these four Ministries should have been used as a pedestal to mobilize masses- peasants, fishermen, artisans, artists, most of our population. All were in their young age; graduates except Lal Kantha. It was a plain sailing without any turbulent winds. But all failed like a broken compass without the magnetic needle.

JVP supported MR without accepting any portfolios; some have argued that it was against coalition politics as the JVP had entered into an agreement with MR. But at the crucial stage in the war against the Tamil Tigers, the JVP attempted to wreck the war efforts defeating the budget.

JVP supported SF along with TNA and other Tamil and Muslim parties. The then leader of the JVP, Somavansa Amarasinghe wearing a three- piece suit embraced RW at a meeting held in support of SF. It may be true what Somavansa Amarasinghe writes in his above-mentioned booklet, that he taught all his young buddies table manners and how to use cutlery and crockery and etiquettes to follow while meeting foreign dignitaries. Thanks to Somavansa Amarasinghe, now all have mastered this craft.  

JVP supported MS with TNA and other Tamil and Muslim parties again andpropped up Yahahapalana government without allowing it to collapse. It was said that Anura Kumara had a special office at Temple Trees; JVP cannot absolve itself from yahapalana blunders.

All agree that the marriage between NPP and yahapalanagovernment brought calamitous consequences to the so-called purity”, perfection” and acceptability” of JVP/NPP. Their efforts in chasing after rogues” became nothing and as a result they lost credibility and became a laughing stock and was treated as an appendage of Yahapalana government and a partner of its sins. They had to defend the bond racketeers, shield them and tolerate the bond scam.

JVP could not retain Tissamaharama PS, touted as a model to all PSs; sold frequencies got free to V FM radio. How can they assume a much more responsibility governing a country is the biggest question?


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