9 December, 2021


An Elite-Led Janabalaya Didn’t Engage The Masses 

By Shyamon Jayasinghe

Shyamon Jayasinghe

The video of the youngster, fully intoxicated and fallen by the wayside pains my mind and reminds me of the callousness and heartlessness of  projects like this led by politicians for the politicians. How could one human do this to another?”


The Janabalaya Kolombata campaign of the JO on 5th September was essentially a mass -ferrying of humans in buses from outstations. Organized by Namal Rajapaksa and other JO leaders, the project was led and driven by a Mahinda Rajapaksa elite or coterie and remained that way until it came to a lack-lustre closure with the former President himself making an aimless and senseless speech from a vehicle. One could observe, Mahinda was tired and jaw-dropped.

It is hard to sustain a project by cajoling and rewarding people to get into buses and remain crammed up like cattle being transported. Outstation people find it uncomfortable to be away from their homes like this and let off in Colombo to fend for themselves until brought back.

If a mass protest were to be successful that has to generate from the masses themselves who perceive a compelling necessity to get mobilised and to sacrifice for a cause. An individual’s choice is generally based on a hidden processing of costs and benefits.We observed that in Arab Spring. Janabalaya Kolombata was a far cry from from Arab Spring. The inability to comprehend the difference in the two situations led to a wasteful exercise. The Daily Mirror editorial referred to Mahinda as  a ‘sharp thinker.’ Oh my God! What sharpness was that?

A well-known Sri Lankan web editor located in London sensed the situation very well when he remarked on Facebook on the eve of Mahinda Rajapaksa’s Janabalaya: “I am going to sleep. Please call me if the government falls”!


One could notice what happened visibly from the numerous videos transmitted instantaneously by mobile cameras by  those on the ground. Thanks to mobile phones, these days one can comment from far away of the events occurring anywhere in the world. One could even sense the emotions of people! Supplemented by independent evidence coming from other observers over there, an analysis can be completed with reasonable veracity.

The Mission

The project had a serious mission to accomplish. Mahinda promised that the masses coming from different directions in the island will converge in Colombo and force the government to quit. “We would surround Sri Lanka’s capital city, camp in the city and stay put until the government is evicted.”

In effect the threat represented a serious breach of the constitution, which Mahinda had sworn to abide by. Our constitution lays down the procedure for a change in government and a forced physical eviction by the masses isn’t one of them.  On the score of this breach itself the government had every right to ban the procession and the meeting and even to arrest the leaders including the former President.

Government didn’t do it because they never took the event seriously. Ranil Wickremesinghe, savvy with his vast experience, sharp with his intelligence and controlled with emotional intelligence of a high order, joked in Parliament: “Please come. You are welcome so long as you do not damage property or disrupt the lives of other citizens.” When the procession finally did enter Colombo and circuited around Lake House the Prime Minister remarked: “ You can stay as long as you want. I know you will have to go back to your homes. Stay, and return as soon as possible because the government will not fall.”

The promised outcome was never ever in sight.

Size of the Crowd

There is no denying that the crowds were big but there isn’t any agreement about the size of that attendance. I guess that the selection of the Lake House roundabout as meeting centre could not have been made if the crowds had been huge like in the last May Day of the JO. In the Lake House roundabout area even a crowd of around three thousand can impress.

A noticeable spill into outside areas was not observed in the videos I saw. The JO claim of hundreds of thousands seems a definite exaggeration.  JO Member of Parliament Aluthgamage, who shines by his low incredibility, made that claim. Some videos transmitted in the internet showed the May Day Galle face audience in order to mislead. However, Galle face is easily identified.

On the other hand, Chathuri Dissanayake, writing to the Financial Times Daily FT (96/9), reported: “Nearly 3,000 loyalists of former President Mahinda Rajapaksa yesterday occupied the Lake House Roundabout in Fort and held a ‘sathyagraha’ after the ‘Janabalaya Kolombata’ protest march organised by the Joint Opposition (JO) was wrapped up.”

Poor Coordination and Pathos

Some videos taken and transmitted through mobile phones indicated that parts of crowds had gone to other spots since no clear instructions had been given. The event  had not been properly coordinated.

The missing hand of Basil Rajapaksa was conspicuous. Namal Rajapaksa is said to have been the chief organizer as apparently the former President wanted him to show his metal in order to establish his credibility for Presdiential candidacy. Namal hardly qualifies for that responsibility. Namal will have to go back to the working board and learn his sums.

Scattered incidents were reported of abandoned souls fallen down dead drunk. The crowds were given milk packets to drink along their march. Several are reported to have entered hospital after drinking the milk. Wimal Weerawansa counter accuses that the UNP had distributed spoilt milk! Knowing Wimal, we can let the ball pass to the wicket keeper.

One youngster from Hatton, 38 years old, had a heart attack and died.

Drowning the pathos of souls lost in drink, fallen by the wayside had been the dominantly celebratory mood of large blocks of people who kept dancing and merrymaking with the Papara Papara band fully in action. Obviously the masses who attended hadn’t taken the event with the seriousness of a rebellion to overthrow the government. They had a real go at it and returned home.

The roads were full of rubbish and Municipal officials would have had a hard time the following day cleaning and mopping up.

Spirit at The Rally

This is the thing I want to say: The spirit of the people hardly evinced a seriousness or tension that rebels would necessarily exhibit. In general terms, there was no mood of potential violence, urgency  or anger noticed. Nobody seemed keen to tear down the government- except the organizing elite-the Rajapakse family and cohorts.

This is why Janabalaya could never achieve its goal of overthrowing the government. This is why it did not evidently involve broad mass participation. The residents in Colombo themselves largely stood aloof like spectators observing a happening. Many were, however, bitter about their inability to get about normal business. Parents did not send kids to school for fear of threats to the latter’s safety. Offices largely remained closed for business. Normal civil life had come to a halt.

All for no purpose and to make space for a mad event!

A Lesson for Government

I like to pause here and raise a question for the government: Should these kinds of protests be allowed to be carried out this way with disruptive impact on peace-loving citizens? Should there be no preconditions and regulations  laid down before permission is granted? For instance, the organizers had not announced the routes that were planned. This is clear violation. Routes to be taken must be announced. This  would enable the police to be in readiness  to ensure the protection of both protestors and civilians simultaneously. No government can carry on in this fashion and the whole rough business drives the wrong messages to business circles. The government wasn’t overthrown but the government loses its  hold  in the public imagination in some unspeakable fashion.

Why Janabalaya Remained largely trivial

There is also a lesson for the Joint Opposition: The latter got to consider why Janabalaya did not engage the population at large. The answer is simple: they people perceived no reason to join in. Janabalaya did not excite the public imagination as it was perceived as something done by a Rajapakse elite for their benefit. Even the  large  numbers of supporters that Mahinda Rajapakse still has in the country did not get stimulated  by any prospect of the government getting ousted. The fundamental thing is that this government is in no sense an oppressive government ever ready to crush dissent. One of the principal achievements of Yahapalanaya is the liberal atmosphere and freedom of the individual that it has provided. There are no more stories of hit squads roaming about to pick and to punish arbitrarily.

I am sure, the organizers were inspired by the Arab spring. This uprising in the Middle East astonished the entire world when a volcano of human patience erupted there, taking start from Tunisia this wave of change took the neighbouring countries into its folds. In the case of these governments they were monarchies, sheikdoms or some other forms of oppressive dictatorship. Such a situation does not hold in Sri Lanka today. People in our island are conscious that there is a way to throw out an unpopular government. Janabalyas aren’t wanted unless to press for enterprise -level micro demands.


Thus  ended a rally that wasn’t wanted by the people in the first place. The parallel to the Arab Spring stands by contrast and not by any similarity.The video of the youngster, fully intoxicated and fallen by the wayside pains my mind and reminds me of the callousness and heartlessness of  projects like this led by politicians for the politicians.

How can one human do this to another?

*The writer can be contacted at sjturaus@optusnet.com.au

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Latest comments

  • 2

    So according to Shyamon Jayasinghe H””YENAS of the JAckol opposttion’s leader is Nama Rajapakse. Recently SB duissnayake also added Rs 6.5 billion came from his Ministerial bank to the JO funds. that group aloe had 16 members of DESHAPREMI HORU.

  • 2

    You got it wrong Shyamon in ~ “……….The video of the youngster, fully intoxicated and fallen by the wayside pains my mind and reminds me of the callousness and heartlessness of projects like this led by politicians for the politicians……..”.
    The young man is simply drowning his depression and sorrow. He finished the food parcel though.

  • 8

    Wow, what an analysis of a brown n..e of Ranil and the gang of thieves. He was quick to compile this piece of artwork. Whom are you trying to hoodwink from down and under. First of all former despot MARA and his family does not belong to any Elitist cult. MARA is a street smart gangster so is his family. None of MARA’s cohorts or degenerates known as “POHOTTUWA” does not belong to any elitist cult. MARA and the clique sponsor this type of projects (circuses) due to the unbelievable conduct of another despot RW. Present despot is no different from MARA both operates schools of corruption from two different levels. MARA at the Street Gang level and RW at the camouflaged Elitists level. It is the fault of the present corrupt government that triggered the circus of September 5th. It is the fault of the Sh.t heads of Sri Lanka that keep on electing Murderers, Thieves, Rapists, Sex Maniacs, drug dealers and Swindlers from Colombo 7 and 5. It is the fault of the guys who use media to glorify their paymasters in the power struggle.

    It is time to say we have had enough since 1953.

    • 1

      Manik, I think Shaymon is correct by calling the Rajapakse gang of thieves as Elites. Look, which country will allow such a massively looted gang of thieves like the Rajapakses to live freely and to go totally scot free for the corruptions and killings they committed against the general population who are the TAX payers. It happens only in Sri Lanka where it is indicative of a Big Mafia finctioning through the so called FAKE democratic system that we inherited from the Global Thieves, The Zionist Corporate Britain. There is a big secrer behind Rajapakses are confidence in not getting caught……. that secret is the Govigama Mafia control of the entire system along with the mainstream media which are owned by them as well. All the Mahanayakes and the Buddhist sects are a part and parcel in this massive Sinhala Zionist project that goes along in the lines of Israeli Mossad guided, trained and funded project of deconstruction of the nation. Rajapakses rendered a big service by showing the ways of how to destroy the system from within, being elected in Fake Election process that results in empowering the same old crooks and murderers getting the TOP JOB always. Look for the traces of Govigama Mafia and you will see the dots that can be connected to see the BIG PICTURE.

  • 1

    Secret Solution, not known what is there, but said to be in draft form. Old Royals had their Rally. Rally was held on two points. One is Jayampathy Gang is breaking the country by making a new constitutions. The other one is to make an instant fall of Yahapalanaya. By extending the term limit by 18A and conducting the election by two years ahead, Old Royals brought down their Chitanta government, which many thought cannot be challenged. Without any candidate to launch in 2015, Chitanta government recycled Old King and unified the enemies under an unknown, unwilling, CC. Neither Ranil nor New King brought down Old Royal’s empire by any Rally. Old Royals brought it down and forcefully handed over to Yahapalanaya. Old King, to save his butt from Ex. Secretary Kerry, handed over temple Tree House to Ranil only in favor of protection for his family. That is why Ranil now saying he undertook a barren “paddy fields”. It is not that they cannot make the government fall by having Guinness Record Arrack Party, important is, and they can do any better than Jan, 2015, if the government falls. The situation has not changed in any way from 2015 for Old Royals. The same 43% support number is there from the Sinhala Extremists. But still have no candidate who can pull all odds together and win the election and if Old Royals jump in their safety is in jeopardy.

    Son Prince had accused that his opponents are just jealous, that is why enemies are picking on one or drunkards joined their rally. Sad again is one or two drunkards, the defense Son Prince taking, is normal in all communities, but coming to Rallies for a sip and cross against the Arrack Bottle in election booth is a special Phenomenon in Lankawe SLFP election bids, only.

  • 1

    The $18B question is for what the hell they need the government to fall instantly though they could not decide on a candidate to stand for the election. Son Prince, after the rally, explained to reporters that he has not reached the EP candidate age. Wedding party cards are printed. Guests are invited. Wedding hall is arranged. Guests are rehearsed in the hall. But the Bride groom is not yet decided.
    Brother Princes can fly anywhere, they want. But they are not viable candidates. The viable candidates, Old King and Son Prince can fly only to China, Japan, Mosco and Thailand. That is where the problem is. Thero de Silva has been active in suggesting candidates for Old Royals. But for his that kind conduct of wedging between Old King and Brother Prince, he was badly punished. But he continued until he landed on another opportunity.

    There is a say in Tamil: “Rats are on festive mood because cat is gone missing”. Shaymon Jayasinge, Vishvamitra, Sarath de Alwis are having extra fun days because Thero de Silva is busy in cleaning the empty Vodka Bottles in Moscow Embassy. Shaymon Jayasinge is not doing at CT much different from Son Prince did at Colombo Streets, last week. Sad; But “Clean after your pet ” board is not in Colombo streets, nor in Colombo Telegraph.

  • 2

    Mr Shaymon sounds exactly like Senior UNP Johnny, who is Dr Ranil’s Buddy, Advisor and Minister on Christianity..
    Johhny said 25,000 Drunks induced with free Bus Tickets and bath Packets will form the Janabalaya to Kolammbotota…

    Don’t know where Mr Shaymon got the “Elite “mixed up there.
    I mean the Elite only Live in Kolombotota ,
    Why would they go all the way to Ambalantota to get a bus back to Kolombotota for a Bath Packet and a Gal Pint..

    That poor Elite on the pavement surely must have had more than a Pint.
    Or could it be one those ” Crack Tablets” which have become the” In “thing of the Kolombotota nowadays, among the Yahapalana Party revellers who gather at posh Night Spots from Galkissa to Kollupitiya.,
    Hopefully they can get the Real Stuff” when that Per Capita hits USD 12.500 in 2020 ….
    And wouldn’t pass out on the pavements in Kolombotota …….

  • 1

    Ranil MUST appoint Shaymon Jayasinghe as the next High Commissioner to Sri Lanka in Canberra.

    Only Shyamon will deliver.

  • 1

    My dear fellow Sili, Sili Lankans. You certainly have a choice. A fabulous choice of Choosing between Baby Namal and Penthouse Ravi.

  • 3

    Sad day for Sri Lanka, Bank Robbers ganging up on a poor desperate man. The lot of you and the man Shame_On has no shame, trying hard to cover up your politician criminal gang in Green that stripped the Central bank of its assets. So you think that you humiliating a drunk, down and out man would make you respectable. Shame ON you rascals.

  • 5

    Namal Rajapaksa is literally starting to look like Hitler. Hahaha.

  • 2

    Steve (PAGE 1)
    The government didn’t challenge Mahindananda’s number with evidence. Therefore, I didn’t see any harm to accept it.
    This government is famous for lying and giving bogus numbers. Even then they say the number of buses came to Colombo from far away cities was around 2200. That means Mahindananda must have given the actual number.
    As I said, I didn’t count people who used other modes of transport.
    About parking of buses. People have seen them from Colombo up to Nugegoda area.
    The buses in which people came to Colombo for 2017 May Day rally in Galle Face, where do you think those buses were parked?
    The only hiccup in Jana Balaya was “its location and the day&time.”
    Thursday or Friday would have been better.
    And 2.00 p.m. is a terrible time at a time the sun is directly above Sri Lanka and above Colombo.
    The most preferable gathering place would have been Lipton Circle and Vihara Maha Devi Park where there is ample space and shade.
    Mahinda could have met people there and made his signature speech when the sun goes down.
    And the “overnight stay” part in the Agenda and the gathering time which is 2 pm obviously have made women hesitant to take part, REDUCING the total number in at least 75,000.
    Never mind now. This is not the end of the world.
    Bringing people in buses is Basil’s style which is outdated.
    Those who bring in buses are not fighters. They are travellers.
    If JO wants fighters, tell people to come of their own volition. You will see very enthusiastic, courageous and strong-minded men and women.
    JO has a large number of veteran, seasoned leaders with fighting spirit, including MR.
    This feeble government is no match for such powerful men.

    • 8

      Thanks. We did see these veteran seasoned leaders at the rally. It is time they entered a home for the aged with the King. Like the expired milk served at the rally all these leaders including the King have long passed their use by dates.

      • 2

        Old wine tastes better, Machang, and they are the most rare, most expensive and most valued.
        If you haven’t heard the age-worthy wine story, you will see this at the next Presidential Election.

    • 1

      It looks for Champa, JAckol Opposition is SAINTS. they are not Public thieves for you. Who is the honest politician in the Sri lankan Parliament. forget Ministers and above. Talk about a MP who di dnot get funds that he does not deserve. They say WE DO NOT STEAL. WE TALK WHAT THE PEOPLE GIVT US. BUT LAWS FOR TAKING BRIBES AND SANTHOSMAS.

  • 0

    Do you think the same thing will happen in a protest organised by the BBS?

    • 2

      Jimba why don’t you organize one?

  • 2

    What a pathetic site! “There but for the grace of God go I”!! Look at this dispassionately. After 1956, the politicians who rushed to power ended the consumption of alcohol on Vesak day. Some years later, the politicians of the day legislated the closure of liquor stores, bars and even 5 * hotels’s restaurants on every Poya day. Then, more recently these politicians, (NEVER MIND THEIR COLOUR) shut down liquor sales on every religious holiday. But this sad and pathetic picture of some desperately poor individual, dead drunk and lying on the street!! How degrading for a Sri Lankan to be seen in a public media, all because some desperate politicians wanted to make a point. If the consumption of liquor is not acceptable, then the last place where it should be served or encouraged is at political gatherings.

    God almighty will be your judge.

  • 0

    From Jan. 8th 2015 MR and his cohorts keep on telling that the Govt. will fall in 3 months 6 months one year two Vesak poyas and so on and so on but the caravan is moving they while they are barking.This way forget the caravan the JO might miss the bus. Sorry for using the term JO. For JO to be JO they must rope in the TNA and the JVP. The UNP has failed in their home work. There is no Joint opposition.

  • 0

    I am reminded of the request by Gammanpila to declare a holiday on the 5th. The flopped janabala could ensure another 5 year holiday for MR from 2020 on top of 5 years already declared by Sirisena on 8th Jan.,2015.

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