27 May, 2022

Blog

AKD, Don’t Engage In JVP’s Exhibitionist Politics & Commit Hara-Kiri

By Vishwamithra

“Since we cannot change reality, let us change the eyes which see reality.” ~ Nikos Kazantzakis

JVP Leader Anura Kumara Dissanayake

When Rohana Wijeweera was the leader of the Janatha Vimukthi Peramuna the euphoria that was created around the JVP was primarily based on one single element which ultimately caused its own demise, especially among the middle-of-ground political activists and thinkers. The false scenario that gave rise to a false narrative that the JVP was extremely popular and its wings spread across a wide spectrum of political activism was mainly a product of the exhibitionistic approach they adopted from the very beginning.

At the famous Hyde Park rally on February 27, 1971, when the then underground group which was widely known as the ‘Che Guevara Clique’ (Che Guevara Kalliya) made its grand entry into the popular political platform, Wijeweera thundered that the capture of political power in the country by the JVP was imminent. There was nothing more remote from the truth than that false narrative. At a military level, a couple of thousand-strong activists armed with crude gun power consisting of locally manufactured ‘Gal Katas’ and hand bombs could not match the firepower of the traditional military of the State. When the initial thrust of the JVP against the police stations failed, the deployment of the Ceylonese Army finished the job. Democracy prevailed and tens of thousands of the nation’s youth along with the leadership of the Janatha Vimukthi Peramuna began their prison time, some making use of that time to educate themselves and pursue higher studies such as Jayadeva Uyangoda and some just rotting away.

A mere one or two hundred thousand-strong group of followers, island-wide, trekking from one large rally to another gave the false impress that the JVP was really building its base and Wijeweera of all people became a victim to that fabricated narrative. Since the freeing from prison of Wijeweera in 1977, this exhibitionistic approach to image-building of the JVP in politics came crashing down in 1982. At the 1st Presidential Elections in that year, Rohana Wijeweera, the JVP leader and candidate, managed to obtain an insubstantial number of votes, mere 273,428, and 4.2% of the total poll. Political activism by a few does not count for massive turnouts at the polls in a democracy and a limited number of political activists is no substitute for substantial numbers that the traditional political parties which existed at the time. Both United National Party (UNP) and the Sri Lanka Freedom Party (SLFP) party, each had a base consisting of a couple million-strong bases from which they could launch a political campaign being certain of a reality of mustering even a larger chunk of votes at the polls.

Exhibitionism has its advantage. As much as it might project a narrative that satisfies the leadership of the Party and pushes his or her ego, it also has its intrinsic yet concealed reality of the disastrous side of the same phenomenon. If massive crowds at mass political rallies are a clear barometer of a given election, Sarath Fonseka would not have lost the Presidential Elections in January, 2010.

Nevertheless, the JVP is continuously being blindsided by the massive crowds that turn out at their mass rallies. And if its current leadership needs to go forward with any realistic idea of securing victory at a future Presidential Election, they do not need to go back to the results of the 1982. Just have a cursory glance at the results of the 2019 Presidential Election results. Anura Kumara Dissanayake, the current leader of the JVP received 418,553, a mere 3.6% of the total poll. Yet AKD and the JVP held the biggest ever political rally at the Galle Face Green during the campaign.

None is so blind as those who refuse to see. AKD and the JVP leadership should not fall into that excruciatingly painful reality of blindness to facts and figures. Numbers don’t lie, but people do. Lionel Bopage, one time Wijeweera loyalist, in his now-famous resignation letter addressed to the Central Committee of the JVP, explained most accurately the adverse effects of exhibitionism in politics. I’m sure AKD has read it many times. But one more time is not one too many.

In the context of this harsh reality, one must realize the unmistakable truth that the voters expressed at the Presidential Elections held in 2015. With a very weak candidate, the then Opposition led by the United National Party, Maithripala Sirisena managed to defeat Mahinda Rajapaksa, of course with the assistance of the JVP. That is because Maithripala was the candidate of a coalition that consisted of all anti-Rajapaksa opposition. That is the plain and bitter truth AKD and the JVP must face. If AKD believes that he could defeat Gotabaya Rajapaksa or any other candidate of the Sri Lanka Podujana Peramuna (Pohottuwa) on his own, it is not only unrealistic, it is, in fact, laughable.

Yet Anura Kumara Dissanayake still remains the most credible political leader in Sri Lanka today. His stature is growing each day. His masterful oratory backed by unshakable facts and figures, his seemingly humble disposition and his intensity are inimitable tools in the hands of a clever political leader. However, AKD is not a tested leader as yet. As much as Sajit Premadasa is untested, so is AKD. AKD does not have any Ministerial accomplishments to boast about; any assertions that his followers could make as to his assertions are as untrue as the color black is white and blue is red.

In a very harsh context of political campaigning, when a candidate is pitched against a formidable money-force backed by access to the most sophisticated political machinery possessed and operated by the Pohottuwa group, in the unlikelihood of being chosen as the common candidate, AKD’s burden of responsibility is enormous, to say the least. But that is to predict things yet to come.

There is no future for any loner-politician. Gotabaya Rajapaksa in 2019, for that matter even Mahinda Rajapaksa in 2005 and 2010 were no loner-fighters. A tremendous force of a left-oriented coalition was behind each of the Rajapaksas. Ironically, Anura Kumara Dissanayake, a consummate left-winger, and a confirmed Marxist, needs to muster the right wing and the center of right-wing political forces in the country to be successful at the elections. On top of these ironic political configurations, the extreme Buddhist fundamentalists are rallying around the Rajapaksas and that is due to the fact that the Rajapaksas are being crowned as the central architects of the ‘War Victory’ against the dreaded Liberation Tigers of Tamil Elam (LTTE). Another irony of this convoluted context is that these Buddhist Fundamentalists are basically ‘right-wing’ charlatans.

One becomes increasingly bewildered when one is confronted with these new realities in the political arena today. AKD cannot help but accept these realities as new factors that were not in existence in the ’71 era and later in the period that spanned between 1987 and 1989. The portrait that is emerging from the various social media platforms cannot be relied upon in the workings of political calculus. Albeit the fact that today’s social media has become widely accepted as an alternative information and news outlet, its unreliability would play a very significant role when the ultimate decisions are made regarding whom to vote for or against.

Have the JVP and its leader Anura Kumara Dissanayake realized these sheltered nuances of modern-day politics and if so what formulae of adjustments and changes they intend making in their quest for a change of government? The writer is quite convinced of the potential and commitment of the JVP. Yet as an untested political entity exercising real power would be an extremely hard one to hypothesize and the outcome of such projections will invariably be prone to untold errors and uncalculated risks.

Hence the challenge before AKD and his Party are tremendous. The manner in which Sajit is meandering in Sri Lanka’s political landscape is a great example of how a serious political activism should not be conducted. If oversimplification is mistaken for simplicity and rally-crowds are mistaken for real votes, the results could be disastrous and the nation’s destiny is bound to remain in the cruel and crude hands of the Rajapaksas.

In ‘The Cherry Orchard’ Anton Chekhov writes: “I know exactly the potential of the people around here. They have the potential to lie. They have the potential to deceive. They have the potential to inveigle. They’ll change nothing. Sometimes, when I can’t sleep, I lie awake thinking, my God! We have so much. We have these huge forests. We have boundless open fields. We can see the deepest, furthest horizons. Look around you. Look. We should be giants. We really, really aren’t.” Such is the present context. As much as Chekov describes his environs so intensely, we have to look around and be empathetic and certainly be focused. Such focus and empathy and intensity might bring about the realization for the need to change, the need to take a different path altogether.

Trudging the same old, well-trodden path will not lead to our common destination; Shouting out the same slogans and expressing same anger might not produce the same results. It’s time to deviate from our traditional path, from our conventional and old thinking. We have failed for seventy three years. Are we willingly going down as a society and as a nation? We must not.

*The writer can be contacted at vishwamithra1984@gmail.com

Print Friendly, PDF & Email

Latest comments

  • 8
    3

    “Democracy prevailed and tens of thousands of the nation’s youth along with the leadership of the Janatha Vimukthi Peramuna began their prison time, some making use of that time to educate themselves and pursue higher studies such as Jayadeva Uyangoda and some just rotting away.”
    *
    Democracy did prevail at gunpoint. We think of the killings only when we want to curse Mrs B. or her government. It is democracy prevailing when we choose to target the JVP.
    *
    I can name quite a few ex-JVP members who turned out to be prominent intellectuals. Some have no regrets about their JVP past. They take a detached view that is not overly critical.
    *
    Has the author done a survey of the post insurrection career of JVP detainees?
    Have they done worse than others who did not join the JVP?

    • 1
      0

      SJ types:

      “Democracy did prevail at gunpoint. We think of the killings only when we want to curse Mrs B. or her government. It is democracy prevailing when we choose to target the JVP.”

      Here we go again ………………………..

  • 3
    3

    “………Wijeweera thundered that the capture of political power in the country by the JVP was imminent….” This is exactly what is still going on in the minds of JVP top leadership. I have some respect towards their fiscal discipline but their amateurish understanding of Sri Lanka as a stand alone country is a real concern for me. They believe mobilizing the local crowd by thrashing the two major parties is the way to grab the power but they do not have any understanding about the international players who are firmly pegged to our politics and the economy for a long while. We are sandwiched between extreme capitalists to communist authoritarian regimes and we CANNOT act on our own in any aspect of governance without the greater influence from these forces. But JVP/NPP is NOT telling us that truth!

    • 0
      0

      “But JVP/NPP is NOT telling us that truth!”
      Another ‘But’, who is telling us the truth? That will be far far easier to list than those who are not.

    • 3
      1

      Jit,
      Who are these international players who are firmly pegged to our politics and economy – China desperately
      attempting to overturn the super-established, Western monetary structure, Bangladesh and Hungary investuring their debt-burden onto us, and Dubai trying to slide their useless Marina promandes our way? Anything yet from the Big Apple?

      • 1
        0

        RTF
        “China desperately attempting to overturn the super-established, Western monetary structure”
        Like to hear more on this from you.
        *
        Is not the Big Apple is shrinking?

    • 0
      0

      Dear Jit,
      .
      .
      PART ONE

      .
      The main point I’d like to make is that we see it as desirable to be rid of the Gota Executive Presidency , and for that purpose we must try to get a clear message across to the voters, the overwhelming majority of whom have very little knowledge, and do next to no thinking.
      .
      To succeed in this we must not confuse the voters, and we must encourage high turn out. I think that we must have as few candidates as possible – hopefully just two. Just one common candidate. Contrast with the election held on 16/11/ 2019:
      .
      https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/2019_Sri_Lankan_presidential_election
      .
      At least one (Namal Rajapaksa who came 15th with 9,497 votes was put in by the Sajith camp) just to confuse Gota supporters because he’s a pretty articulate lawyer and his name, which is real, would make ignorant voters think it to be Mahinda Rajapaksa’s son.
      .
      I’d rather we didn’t try these stunts. I’ve added neither a LIKE nor a DISLIKE for your comment – the score just now being 0/3. tbc

    • 0
      0

      PART TWO
      .
      I’ll be back with a few more observations; for now let me stress that this a strategy for the Presidential Elections. For the Parliamentary Elections it is inevitable that there will be many parties contesting. The fewer the better, but we shouldn’t be allowed to feel that principles have been subordinated to expediency. It’s for individuals to decide whom to support, but for me it will almost definitely be the NPP.
      .
      Please give some thought to the need to have different strategies for the two elections. Before that we may have Provincial Council Elections. That will be according to the rules and regulations that are now in force. These councils are a pain , but holding them or not must not be according to the whims and fancies of those “in power”. The faster we get legislation on this – that is getting the PCC removed – enacted, the better.
      .
      Panini Edirisinhe

    • 1
      0

      Well composed article. The challenge before the JVP/NPP is whether to function as a principled party wanting to bring about socio-economic and political change -including in the political culture- even if it is not able to secure power on its own right OR come to a coalition with discredited parties and individuals -even though it may secure power? It is important to carry on the political education campaign as it does at the monent but far more important is the internal strategy. i.e. for expanding party activity into the districts and villages, communication strategy including the social media, political strategy of identifying individuals and groups who are like minded, and the organisational apparatus to counter opposition propaganda,tactics,etc. Communication strategy must include means of addressing English speaking audience as well. A part and a movement with an agenda for bringing about social change(including economic,political,cultural) and not offering the same like other parties/coalitions face its own challenges-internal and exernal. Overeliance on the apparent public support can be quite misleading as the author suggests but what is the alternative? JVP/NPP needs flexibility in their dealings with the others .e.g. accept those from existing parties and coalitions who subscribe to its agenda. However this has to be done after a vetting process.People are opening heir eyes to the economic and social calamities that the nation is facing.

      • 1
        0

        Siri: Yes. JVP/NPP has already stretched out their hands to anyone to JOIN the platform of NPP. Please note NPP has said in un-no-certain language that it would not enter into any type of “Alliance” or “Collaboration” with any other political party and emphatically ruled out UNP, NPP, and SJB. Having said that, JVP/NPP said: “There is no barrier for “ANYONE” who accepts the “Policy Framework” to join. Yet, AKD the Chairman of NPP said: “All such persons would be “VETTED” by a “Panel” before being accepted. (This AKD said at the discussion with Sepal Amarasinghe).

        I am sure JVP has learned the “Bitter” lesson and in “Hindsight” made that strong decision. I agree totally with that decision, to “VET” all who rush to join at this moment.

        • 0
          0

          siri, and Simon,
          .
          I agree that as a political entity contesting Parliamentary Elections the NPP ought to have its own identity, and ought to vet applicants particularly in relation to honesty and non-racist outlook.
          .
          Coming to an understanding in relation to a common candidate at Presidential Elections, the criterion should be support for diminishing the powers of the executive presidency, and reform of the constitution.
          .
          The more I speak to members of the public (as opposed to what is in practical terms a closed circle on CT) the more fearful I am that the Rajapaksas will get back because of the ignorance of voters. Information on how to use Preferences in a Presidential Election must be disseminated. The NPP should not be frightened of labels when giving factual information.
          .
          A balanced article.

  • 8
    0

    “If AKD believes that he could defeat Gotabaya Rajapaksa or any other candidate of the Sri Lanka Podujana Peramuna (Pohottuwa) on his own, it is not only unrealistic, it is, in fact, laughable.”

    It is true. In Sri Lanka (Ceylon) it happened to many left wing political parties who were popular among people at the time of independence but unable to make success in parliamentary elections and all leftists become part of SWRD group which has a foundation based on Capitalism and Buddhist Fundamentalism since 1956. The names of political parties based on Capitalism and Buddhist Fundamentalism have changed recently but in content there is no change. Even those left oriented Vasudeva, Prof. Vitharane and even the JVP outcome Gammanpila and Weerawanse became popular among voters after they become part of the Buddhist Fundamentalism.
    People and their strong believes have not changed in real even after the country is sold to China.

    • 3
      1

      “JVP outcome Gammanpila”
      That is news to me.
      BTW, when did Vasudeva or Vitharana make any BF utterance?

      • 3
        0

        did Vasudeva or Vitharana make any BF utterance?
        This is what I wrote: “they become part of the Buddhist Fundamentalism”.
        Rajapaksa regime uses Buddhist Fundamentalism. You all know this fact. How do you call those who are associated with this regime?

        • 0
          0

          A
          You can be pathetic I know.
          But it is better (and more honest) to admit a mistake.

  • 2
    0

    “ Trudging the same old, well-trodden path will not lead to our common destination; Shouting out the same slogans and expressing same anger might not produce the same results. It’s time to deviate from our traditional path, from our conventional and old thinking. We have failed for seventy three years. Are we willingly going down as a society and as a nation? We must not.“
    We need to DEFINE what is the common DESTINATION.
    For me, We need to emphasise that we need to stress to identify ourselves as “SRILANKAN” first and foremost.
    We should not imagine that India is against the Sinhala Buddhists. Their (Indians) contribution to SL development should be welcomed by ALL SL citizens. NPP should not take an Anti Indian attitude. They should take the minorities along with them.
    The Common Destination is where we have freedom of speech/ Judiciary that is manipulated by ruling Party /Security Forces to protect the citizens and not corrupt Rulers/ Independent Newspapers especially Lake House ones
    We need a good NEW Constitution asap

  • 3
    0

    Only reason the Capitalists consistantly won for several decades was because of the ease of foreign loan borrowing and the payback asset of the Middle East labour camps….these and the gun-point and torture tactics. Now Motherland is truly stuck with Enormous unpayable debt and refinancing them jumps from countries attempting to investiture their own debt onto Sto Lanka….latest being Hungary. All will soon fall into disintergration. A few sailboats on Port City Bay are not glossy enough for the reality of the S&P downgrading….investors won’t Touch the foundation piles of the skyscrapers . We thus hope that Sajith would liaison with the JVP and create the Lankan democratic, capitalized socialist party. And the more the Tamil parties harp on dead duck Tamil cchauvinism and PC councils, the more Sinhala Buddhist nationalism and the money draining Rajapaksas will prevail.

    • 0
      0

      Corrections: Now Motherland is truly stuck with Enormous unpayable debts, and is refinancing them by jumping from country to country that attempt to investiture their own debt onto Sri Lanka….latest being Hungary.

    • 0
      5

      keep hoping dumbo …

  • 4
    0

    A brilliant piece harking back to historical facts that should prompt AKD and his brain thrust to rethink their current strategy. None are blind as those who don’t learn from the past. Rereading Lionel Bopage’s resignation letter is a good start! Then, as the writer alludes, look beyond our shores and take stock of the geopolitical context within which Sri Lanka must operate. As the writer points out, oratory flows freely, but one should have lessons seated on the driver’s seat to drive a vehicle.

    • 0
      0

      Remaining at the ideological/discourse level and sartisfying the ego of the party stalwarts can be misleading as the author and commentators highlight. Building a ground-up movement based on the needs and aspirations of the people who are left behind both by globalisation(American and European new imperialisms plus the Chinese expansionism) and majoritarian democracy/semi authoritarianism is the necessary task. Lessons can be learned from examples from Latin America,in particular Mexico for such exercise. More than preeching to the potential voters(every party does this), geting involved with the marginalised voter base a) to understand the issues that concern them b) find ways to support such causes at the district and electorate level c) win their hearts and minds would be the strategy that the JVP can adopt. I am not suggesting that they abandon the discourses/preechings. They should not be the main pillar of strategy. Voluntarism can be included in the abnove mentioned strategy.

    • 0
      0

      Dear Nandi Jasen,
      .
      Could you please give me a link where I could read that Lionel Bopage resignation letter. I’ve found many explanations by him here:
      .
      http://www.europe-solidaire.org/spip.php?article50994
      .
      but not the letter as a historical document for us to study in its then context.
      .
      Thanks in advance.
      .
      Panini Edirisinhe of Bandarawela

      .

      .

      • 1
        0

        Dear Panini Edirisinhe of Bandarawela:

        Please look in one of Bopage’s books where it is reproduced. Sorry, I can’t give you a specific book and page.

        • 0
          0

          Thanks for the response, Nandi.
          .
          I’m satisfied with what I have deduced from the sort of link that I have provided myself. I have seen nothing that contradicts that, so I guess that there is no need to embark on an interminable voyage of discovery.
          .
          I must confess that as I’ve got older, and as the internet provides snippets, I don’t do research-type reading. However, I’m appalled at how little General Knowledge young people possess, and how little bothered they are to find out for themselves. I engage even strangers in conversation; Lankans are so reluctant to discuss any of the many things that they consider controversial. I know that a lone individual asking ad hoc questions can’t do much, but I suggest that as many readers here as possible wake up to the need to assess the views of the silent majority.

  • 1
    0

    The author says: ” Anura Kumara Dissanayake …… needs to muster the right-wing and the center right-wing political force of the country”.

    Hasn’t this “Drama” staged and is being staged for the last decades and into the present day? Aren’t we reaping the “Crops” of those “Alliances”? To be exact, what are these “Right-Wing” and “Center Right-Wing”? All made up of “Corrupted”, “Hawkish” “Self Benefit Motivated” and “Bumf” brigade of rotten “Politicians” and their “Cohorts”. So are we to “Invite” and “Force” the JVP/NPP to muster the support of such groups? NO ….NO.. it is much, much better to be alone and face the consequences rather than be “Puppets” in the hands of this “Right & Center Right-Wings”.

    That is why AKD spelled out the “Policy” of inviting the camps that are accepting the policies and plans of NPP to join and all of them showing interest would be subjected to a “Litmus” test. That “NPP” is a FORUM for new entrants who are dedicated to “Re-Building” the country on a “NEW PLATFORM”. The doors are open (even for Sajit & Co.) provided they “Agree” and “Pledge” without any “Reservations”. This “Policy” adoption is after so much of the “Experiences” JVP had undergone during their “Supportive” role played on many occasions in the past, that which must have been studied by the writer. Why “Ignore” that and those “Circumstances”?

    • 2
      0

      To be a progressive party, the JVP has to go it alone while embracing those who are like minded and committe to the cause even if it cannot gain power on its own.

      It should not waste limited resources-intellectual, human,party- in contesting all the seats in the parliament. it should choose about 50-60 winnable seats and devote full strength to educate the people in them. A limited target strategy.Even if they are aboe to win about 30 seats in the next parliamentary election, it will be a huge win because whoever wants to form a government then have to work with the JVP.

      • 2
        0

        siri, I think you are focusing on parliamentary elections. What about a Presidential election?

  • 5
    0

    JVP’s Sunil Handunnetti opposing a possible bridge with India is yet another recent example of its island-mentality. JVP has not changed a bit in terms of ideology. There are bridges, tunnels and causeways between Singapore and Malaysia, UK and Europe and Bahrain and Saudi Arabia to name a few. The tremendous advantage for trade and tourism is completely ignored. People will not be able to just travel across but be subject to immigration, customs, quarantine and other rules at both ends. If not a bridge, a ferry service big enough to take buses and lorries is a must. JVP/NPP will oppose everything.

  • 2
    0

    Vishwamithra: “Don’t Engage in JVP Exhibitionist Politics and Commit Hara-Kiri”. Exactly the same advice I give the Present JVP/NPP.

    How many times and occasions did they do that? The final one was when they got branded as “Rathu Ali Petiya” (The Red Elephant Calf). Do I have to remind you when they went to bed with Chandrika, Rajapakse, and Ranil/Maithri?. What happened? At the final stages, they got reduced to “3%” and bearly three seats, that too with a “Bonus Seat”.

    That “EXHIBITION” must stop NOW. I have reasoned it in my previous comment. Is it the same “EXHIBITION” that you suggest to JVP/NPP even now? You are not alone in that “Endeavour”. I hope JVP/NPP will not listen to you “Pandits” anymore and further. My advice – Do it by yourself, never mind the results. Your STRENGTH will be praised and remembered in the future.

  • 2
    5

    The JVP knows only one playbook .

    They are very good at flooding the social media flooding the meetings lying through their teeth. and they using young fools as cannon fodder because they can never win an election other than in a student union.

    The AKD led version is no different than the Wijeweers led version.

Leave A Comment

Comments should not exceed 200 words. Embedding external links and writing in capital letters are discouraged. Commenting is automatically disabled after 5 days and approval may take up to 24 hours. Please read our Comments Policy for further details. Your email address will not be published.