21 July, 2024

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AKD’s Recent Climb Is Meteoric, Yet A Long Way To Go

By Vishwamithra

“If my ship sails from sight, it doesn’t mean my journey ends; it simply means the river bends.” ~ Enoch Powel

A few days after the 1971 April Insurrection, the then Prime minister Sirimavo Bandaranaike asked her comrades-in-arms to address the nation on radio. Sri Lanka Broadcasting Corporation was the main source of news for Ceylon at the time. There was no television, no social media. T B Ilangaratne of the Sri Lanka Freedom Party (SLFP), Minister of Internal and External Trade, Dr. N M Perera of the Lanka Sama Samaja Party (LSSP), Minister of Finance and Peter Keuneman of the Communist Party (CP), Minister of Housing and Construction representing the three main partners of the coalition government talked to a stunned nation whose very foundation of democracy was violently shaken by a youthful multifarious army of the Janata Vimukthi Peramuna (JVP). 

While Ilangaratne, N M and Sirimavo spoke in Sinhala, Keuneman chose to speak in English. Peter Keuneman, who hailed from a Burgher ancestry, asked a very pertinent question. ‘We know what you are against; but what are you for’? The JVP then and the National People’s Power (NPP) now is confronted with the same question by many an inquisitive mind. And the answer is still not to the satisfaction of many a doubting Thomas. And unless and until a very satisfactory answer is given, power from the reach of the NPP will be as elusive as it has been up to now. 

Political platforms of the other main two political camps, one led by the UNP mindset and the other led by the SLFP mindset, have already been defined and their policies and programs, though having successively failed the country, are known to the country at large. The NPP political manifesto has not been released as yet, at least its nuts and bolts, its specific programs and policies as to how the country’s economic ills could be overcome, how the governance structure is going to be organized, by what caliber of men and women it’s going to be run etc. are not yet known to the voting public. 

When they are challenged by ideological adversaries, the supporters of the NPP would need a document, a filmlet, a piece of a pamphlet that they can refer to and show their challengers that they possess something tangible in black and white, that spells out a framework within which the country’s issues and problems could be resolved. The challenge before the NPP leadership today is chiefly bordering along this line of uncertainty and suspicion. 

On the other hand, if AKD and the rest of the NPP leadership believe that addressing mass meetings and expressing their disgust and anger with the government in power inside parliament would be sufficient to win the hearts and minds of the voters, then they are very sadly mistaken. Such naiveté will lead them to sure defeat at the elections. A well-organized campaign, substance that is precise and succinctly spelt out, names and faces of their members of their prospective Cabinet, their academic credentials, their age groupings, all such details will be sought out by the voters. Furthermore, one of the most crucial issues that the NPP would have to tackle is the Tamil Question. What solutions, what concessions, if any, what parameters within which the Central Government would operate in order to bring about real reconciliation between the two communities, what threshold the NPP would not cross in planning and executing measures and policies to make our Tamil brethren feel equal and to the majority, what measures would they implement to bring about eradication of suspicion between the two communities; they all need to be addressed and answered. No more than twelve months lie between elections and today. Although it might look adequate, when planning and execution gets under way, one would realize it’s hardly enough, if not already late. 

Most of all, AKD and the NPP must be as clear as crystal in the difference between the old JVP and the new NPP and their respective approaches to solving the burning issues that confront the country today. Spell out how the old JVP was perceived to solve an issue and how the new NPP would approach the same issue and enunciate the stark difference. The political and philosophical concepts may remain unchanged, yet the approach and resolution of the same issues may vary diametrically.

Is AKD ready for this? Is the NPP leadership along with its hardcore support structure willing to sacrifice the old for the sake of the new? The voter of today is no more susceptible to the vagaries of election briberies. The young and the educated may not be too fragile as our past generations were during the sixties, seventies, eighties and nineties and successive decades. The current generation is not only well armed in knowledge and education, they are much sharper and more empathetic in their understanding of the prevailing objective and subjective conditions. 

Carl Marx and Frederick Engels wrote the Communist Manifesto to suit the conditions in Europe in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries; all those who took part in the 1917 Russian revolution would never have read the Communist Manifesto; yet the very framework of an organized communist society, the basic architecture of a socialist community was imparted into a revolutionary-minded fraternity through the diverse media-instruments available at the time. Narration of a failed system such as Socialism/Communism might not be all that relevant nor will it be appropriate in the twenty first century, yet the validity of the fundamental necessities in the organizational structure cannot be disregarded.

What J R Jayewardene attempted to do quite successfully in the late nineteen seventies, by awakening the then United National Party (UNP) and bringing it to a victorious summit in the ’77 General Election was the only comparable operation of that kind in our 75 year-post Independence history. Here again, I am not trying to compare the two schools of political thought and policy; I am merely attempting to highlight the mind and effort that go into a successful accomplishment of any event. 

What lies ahead for AKD and NPP?

  • Document a broad framework of the NPP policies and programs
  • Introduction of his full team (shadow Cabinet)
  • Differentiation of the then JVP and the now NPP
  • Identify and pronounce the threshold the NPP will not cross
  • Clear policy for the Tamil Question
  • Clear-cut policy as to how to curb and eradicate corruption from our society
  • Hold a public forum where the new NPP policy/program would be discussed and ideas exchanged
  • Never neglect the grassroots organization in educating and informing them of the latest world and national events issues

I sincerely hope this would be a broad roadmap for the success of the NPP as a dynamic political entity that is eager and serious to capture power at the next election, be it Presidential, General, Provincial or Local Government. The NPP and its leadership comprising of AKD, Handunhetti and Wijitha Herath have exclusive advantage that other leaders in the field today do not have. The leadership of the NPP is the only entity that is trusted by the large masses of Lanka. Their style of politics, their articulations in the vernacular, their simple attire, their rejection of luxuries offered to other parliamentarians, their demeanor, both public and private, their collective authenticity and empathy and their palpable competency in understanding the suffering and hardship undergone by the masses is all a bundle of advantages that other political parties simply cannot boast about. It’s their time, it seems.   

I once met the late Gamini Dissanayake and asked what had been vexing me for some time. I asked him as to what he understood as politics. He replied: ‘politics is pursuit of power within the context of bringing peace, prosperity and happiness to the people.’  His enunciation of ‘pursuit of power’ did not evade me. AKD and the NPP leadership must understand: they cannot implement any of their lofty programs unless and until they capture power. Firstly, map out a scheme to attain that goal. The rest shall follow.

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

                       

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Latest comments

  • 8
    1

    To be rewarded with a comfortable majority win to accomplish the goals set out to date by AKD and NPP, they should fully heed to the author on what should lie ahead for the AKD and NPP campaign.

  • 6
    1

    In contrast to his last article, Vishwamithra has packed this article with meat. Kudos!

  • 12
    1

    Vishwamithra: In your above presentation you say that the UNP and SLFP policy framework is already known, but there is no such thing from the NPP.

    Have you not gone through the NPP’s Policy Framework titled “RAPID RESPONSE” (available on their web page) to Overcome Present Challenges, contained in a booklet (pages 1 to 21)? Based on this “BROAD POLICY FRAMEWORK” (Rapid Response) NPP has already set up “Study Groups” to decide on the “ACTION PLANS” to be released ahead of any election. NPP has not yet organized “Mass Rallys”, but has concentrated on organizing such as “Electing Peoples’ Representatives to “District/Electoral/Village” level Committees. These are mostly to INTRODUCE such representatives that NPP is conducting as “Seminars” which we see today. Those are not “Election Meeting Platforms”.

    I invite you to look for and READ through that “Rapid Response” booklet available on NPP’s Web Page. Have you seen such a document in UNP, SLFP, or SLPP domains?

    • 8
      1

      Good information, Douglas!

      While as someone not proficient in Sinhala, I am often at a disadvantage to get all of AKD / NPP’s political activities, yet it has been clear that NPP has not let up on its political movement since the 2019 election campaign. In spite of the 2019 election outcome, I do think that the electorate took note of NPP and AKD positively.

  • 10
    1

    AKD …….. all the way!

  • 5
    8

    “Clear policy for the Tamil Question”
    Is that all to the national question?
    There are the Muslims and Hill Country Tamils who are distinct nationalities that face problems of different kind.

    • 7
      2

      Are you suggesting that every party’s policy framework should list the following as stand-alone question as done with ‘the Tamil Question’?;
      *The Muslim Question
      *The Hill Country Tamil Question

      Would the solutions to the different problems faced by the Muslims and the Hill Country Tamils require any change to the constitution?

      • 3
        5

        There are no stand alone issues in national politics.
        Acceptance of Muslims and HCTs as nationalities on par with the Tamils and Sinhalese is central to addressing the national question.
        Even for Tamils outside N&E, there are needs and concerns about which the Tamil parties have paid scant attention.
        The national question cannot be resolved as a purely Sinhala-Tamil problem.
        Any political party that is bidding for governmental power has to be clear on the national question.
        What sectarians think is at best irrelevant and in general negative.

        • 2
          0

          Will the resolution of the Hill Country Tamil, the Muslim, and the Non-N&E Tamil needs and concerns require changes to the constitution?

          • 0
            0

            Sorry this is not a Q&A session.
            I have adequately clarified my statement.

    • 4
      0

      Is that all to the National question?
      Whether you like it or not it is part of a national question that lasting for many decades which had considerable impact on most of the economic, social, cultural, political including corruption, lawlessness, collapse of judiciary, international intervention and so many…….. Yes Muslims, and Hill country Tamils may have grown up as distinct groups recently but they have to decide what is the appropriate solution to their problems.
      There are some people who do not like devolution of power or wants to eliminate Tamils from this island for personal grudges.

      • 3
        5

        Let us not decide what Muslims and HCTs should demand.
        They have made it absolutely clear that they do not want to be part of the ‘Tamil’ nationality for the foreseeable future.
        The N&E leadership has nothing to offer them.
        That is what reality is.

    • 3
      0

      This question of policy is always directed to NPP only.
      Are you satisfied with policy of UNP, SLPP and SJB and vote for them looking at the policy document.
      If Rajapakse family published policy document tomorrow giving permanent (Imaginary) solution to all these matters are you going to believe them and vote for them.
      NPP is a national party belongs to Sri Lanka serving all ethnic and religions.
      They don’t provacate race and religion in any of their speeches.
      They will most likely be the least corrupt out of all lot.
      There should be only two things impartial votes should ask from them.
      They should give assurance to the people they will not bring extreme leftish policies like in other para-ya communist countries like china, north korea and Russia. Also the should not glorify past of the JVP which is linked violence and immense suffering of ordinary people.
      Also they should be questioned more on their economic strategy which is also answered by them in to certain extent.

      • 0
        0

        “NPP is a national party belongs to Sri Lanka serving all ethnic and religions.”
        That is where the doubts are.
        The past of the driving force of the NPP has some dark zones.

  • 12
    1

    Dear Readers,
    .
    “AKD and the NPP leadership must understand: they cannot implement any of their lofty programs unless and until they capture power. Firstly, map out a scheme to attain that goal. The rest shall follow.”.
    .
    Even if u capture power, no guarantee u can make quick change, as many dream of , without laws and due reforms being passed , available, that always stand on ur way not allowing any good leaders to do the job..People should be ready to sacrifice as south Koreans did .
    .
    Restrctuing of Lanken society should be the number one above anything else. Yellow pets 💛 should be jailed not allowing them to run amok.
    .
    There are a huge portion of holes in prevailing law and Odor system.And don’t forget the power of social media which is enriched mostly with anecdotal kind of news items., can destroy everything within an overnight 😀

    • 6
      2

      Dear LM: You raised a very important and relevant question by stating: ” Even if you capture power no guarantee …….”.

      I think you have not heard of this matter from the “Seminars” NPP is conducting. AKD and the main speakers have always announced “Don’t expect miracles from us. All of us have to struggle very hard (porabadanna venawa) and be ready to make sacrifices. We are not “Vishava Karmayas” to do things overnight.” I hear this being told very emphatically loud and clear.

      I think the PEOPLE have got the message.

      • 5
        2

        “I think the PEOPLE have got the message”
        .
        Are u dreaming?.
        .
        How many of them got it ?. Not even 10%.
        .
        ARE OUR PEOPLE [majority]HARD WORKING ? WOULD THEY RESPECT LAW AND ORDER?.would SB radical monks ever let harsher laws be implemented?
        ..
        Please discuss this with Kadamandiya clans and come to reality.🙏🙏🙏

        • 5
          2

          Dear LM: “How many of them got it? Not even 10%”

          I gave you the figures earlier. It is 47%.

          “Are you dreaming”? NO. I am much more awake than earlier because presently working all day to bring that “CHANGE”.

          My Kadamandiya is 100% aware.

          • 1
            0

            I would have joined u if all these predictions set by opinion polls could be the truth about lanken people.
            However it is wise to look back 😉 and compare it with that of 2020 GE. Honestly saying, I thought atleast more than a dozen of NPP rs 🤷 would have been sent to the parliament, looking at the manner some fractions incl.me NAIVELY dreamt of it 😒 to happen.
            Unfortunately as usual very same voters fell back to their
            ” Cold feet syndrome mode” at the 🗳 booths. .
            .
            I m very pessimistic about lanken future. It s totally wrong to compare our people with that 😕 of Vietnam [most of them are are hardworking and not culprits]for example. Our people are unique and wait others to sacrifice for them. They are lazier than any other SOUTHASIANS. People in general are lethargic. They expect everything from govt. A huge portion of degree holders leave the country TODAY, not being
            able to mind up on paying taxes. They would never agree with tax reductions in their salary sheets.

  • 5
    5

    “AKD’s Recent Climb Is Meteoric”

    Did he climb adam’s peak recently?From where did you get this info that he has had a ‘meteoric’
    climb?His 700000 block voter’s will vote for him as they always do.Others won’t unless he changes his JVP outdated policies of 1971.Just changing the name to NPP won’t do. Modernise the policies to suit the current environment in which the world is in.Sri lanka cannot survive isolated from the world.

    • 0
      0

      S
      You seem as frozen in time as you accuse the JVP of being.
      I am no soothsayer, but I do not rule out the prospect of frustration swinging many voters towards the JVP.

  • 17
    2

    The insurrections of 1971 and 1989 did not happen in a vacuum. Those who only believe the official lies circulated thru Lakehouse media during those times must understand that the state terror apparatus killed far more innocent civilians than any uprising did. The same story with the Tamil uprisings in the North. That too did not happen in a vacuum. Why would ordinary, hard-working and intelligent people in the north take up arms or be recruited by a megalomaniac if things were fine? All these struggles have a root cause. That is either discrimination against minorities or the poor educated youth, giving status to rich kids from private schools who are dumb but play sports, or developing only the leaders’ own districts and neglecting to develop, industrialize or provide employment to the people in other areas. The NPP is the only viable, safe and genuine alternative available. The two party grand criminals fear them most, as their stealing of billions will stop forever, if the NP take over control.

    • 7
      1

      The state terror apparatus still exists, but now laying low and popping up now and then in the North and East mostly to threat and intimidate.

      Given the JVP connection, wonder whether NPP / AKD the best bet to rid the state of terror apparatus which are deeply entrenched in the system.

    • 0
      0

      “The NPP is the only viable, safe and genuine alternative available.”
      I will add two qualifiers: seemingly, relatively and perhaps in that order, fingers crossed.

    • 0
      0

      The words, “… giving status to rich kids from private schools who are dumb but play sports…”, captures a great part of the problem that the country is plagued with.
      .
      Inability to come up with systems to incentivise and foster merit, intellect, education, knowledge, skill, talent, capacity, and potential; transcending class, cast, creed and capital, by parties that have governed the country since independence.
      .
      Letting nepotism, cronysm and corruption reign. Sometimes deliberately crushing and destroying deserving individuals for petty personal and political gains. Creating a culture of impunity, gross disregard of the laws of the land, and rights of individuals.
      .
      Can the JVP/NPP bring about necessary changes and salvage the country and economy? Despite eloquent and virtuous speeches in and outside the parliament, I personally am not impressed. Neither by their leaders nor by other members in general. Are they really of a different mettle? I would believe once they prove it! It will take more than a manifesto printed on glossy papers.

  • 3
    0

    Theirs is a set of rolling evaluations and continuous decision-making processes. They know that these so-called well-structured manifestos are a huge bluff…the people know it and are sick of it. “No more will we be fooled; “Aeti taram boru, is the rallying cry!” “Gon jarava ati visalayi!” Manifestos are old-fashioned. Manifestos are autocratic and totalitarian. Enter the modern-age of democracy, interactivity, intellectual-creativity, and People-Power!

  • 3
    1

    The NPP had published its first Manifesto for the last Presidential elections in which its policies have been set out clearly. This manifesto was updated and published during for the last general elections. Further, unlike others parties and politicians, the NPP leaders clearly explain their policies and plans in the Parliament and in their public engagements with the people. They do talk shop like others. By this approach of the NPP it is only in recent times that people are being and educated and the people have begun to understand the actual needs of the country and the people. Be it the Sinhalese, Tamils or Muslims are now looking forward to usher in a Govt of the NPP.

    • 2
      0

      “Be it the Sinhalese, Tamils or Muslims are now looking forward to usher in a Govt of the NPP.”
      How is visibility across the continents?

  • 4
    0

    JVP/NPP has learned through experience as how to counter state terrorism which is the main cause of all forms of struggles of the people which the old capitalist order choses to call terrorism. The JVP is now popular among all sections of the people, viz: the different communities, farmers, workers, professional, intellectuals, and even businessmen; and the NPP in which JVP plays a important role has established itself as popular and strong party and remains as the only alternate political entity which the people will chose to govern the country at earliest available opportunity.

  • 4
    0

    Pity this thoughtful essay has to be displaced by lesser ones in such a short time..

    • 1
      0

      “Nothing is permanent”
      The essay will still be accessible after closure of comments.
      Is that not pretty fair?

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