Colombo Telegraph

Anura, From The Shores Of Galle Face

By Arundathie Sangakkara

The Galle Face green was filled, not just with heads yesterday. It was filled with heads that were not empty. Ironically Anura Kumara Dissanayake was facing the Port City from the podium. The people were facing the stage full of the allies of the National People’s Power (NPP) movement. Janatha Vimukthi Peramuna (JVP) held yesterday, it’s most attended and successful meeting in recent history. Earlier it was commonly believed that only the Rajapaksas or the mighty UNP had the easy and mythical power of filling the Galle Face to its brim. It was a dark day yesterday to the slaves of the Medamulana ‘Walawwa’ and certainly to the UNP government that went out of its way to issue Gotabaya Rajapaksa a fraudulent passport and a fraudulent NIC. 

The “five lakh JVP” yesterday has shown its strength. 

Finally, there seemed to be a leader worth pointing to one’s child from one’s shoulders. Many rural villagers had travelled to witness this event. There were breastfeeding women, clutching their tiny infants close, witnessing the unfolding of history. 

The bankrupt cyber slaves of the common UNP-Pohottu camp have spent a busy afternoon on the 18th sharing pictures of plastic chairs lined up on the Galle Face green and shamelessly sharing the images of some rice packets organized by someone for feeding the attendees travelling from far. Their ridiculous sarcasm only depict how agitated this common camp of Elephants cum Pohottu has become at the rise of the alternative political option. 

The Challenge Within A Political Vacuum

A wave of populism is enveloping politics across country lines. It is a current global phenomenon where people abhor and reject traditional politics and traditional politicians. Populism demands that “new leaders” should occupy the space previously occupied by traditional politicians. The gift of populism to the USA was Donald Trump. A more fortunate Ukraine got the gift of Zelensky, a comedian who played the role of President in a TV reality show (probably he is a better leader). Sri Lanka’s populism has gifted us a Gotabaya. It is not clear what the phenomenon of Nagananda Kodituwakku, Rohan Pallewatta, Ajith Rohana Colonne and Gamini Wijesinghe who have stirred some dialogue on ‘alternative leadership’ on social media. The real litmus test of these alternate leaders would be an election which is the real test of democracy. 

Within the anomalous constitutional and political reality it is every party’s dilemma to win an election single handedly. Not even with the help of their traditional allies can these parties win an election anymore, in the age of populism. The cyber depreciation of personalities like Gamini Viynagoda and Professor Sarath Wijesuriya have made the all-important concept of civil society an obscenity. 

As a standalone concept, populism cannot replace the role of democracy. Alternatively, without embracing the realities of populism, democratic politics has no survival in the modern, complex political world moderated by the open society of the internet. 

The simple reason that populism refuses traditional politics is pretty much due to traditional politicians being, generally, a bunch of selfish, thieving villains. In Sri L anka the elephant, the flower bud, the hand, the chair, the betel leaf, the TNA and the Muslim Congress- these all represent those deplorable qualities of politicians. However countries electing leaders in a populist tide fall from the pan to the fire because without professional and serious politics, the state cannot be run although governments may be. 

Who, then can address this political vacuum intensified in the post Easter bombing era? 

Anura And The JVP

In the modern reality no politician has a vaccine to immunize themselves from social media vitriol. The JVP has taken some stances for democracy in the face of unfolding political debacles that warranted dramatic moves. The nearest example is the constitutional crisis of October 2018. It is easy to brand someone the “Red Elephant”. So what can this selfsame Red Elephant do? Defend a principle and defend democracy? Sacrifice a heartless neo-liberal Ranil at the altar of a jester President? Not do both and watch the establishment of a Rajapaksa Regime? Jump in to the throat of the devil? Or the deep blue sea? Be a red bell? Or tolerate the scathing term Red Elephant with equanimity? The JVP dilemma is such. 

But then, there is the little fact about the real opposition. 

Four Years As The Real Opposition

If you analyze the three amazing years of R Sampanthan as Leader of the Opposition you will realize that he has hardly taken any opposition to the government whom he appears to adore. You can comb through a hundred Hansards. You will end up with nothing to show any real opposition that our opposition posed.  It is in fact the JVP that has risen their voices against the frauds of this failed state where institutions and financial governance were both diminished. 

Even those who hate the JVP believe we need the JVP in parliament. 

Ranil Wickremesinghe, probably sent to earth by Almighty just to issues lunatic statements affected by the lunar effects of politics also stated recently that in his next UNP government, the honest JVP MPs should hold ministerial portfolio. Not much is expected from the nephew of the Wise Old Fox. He is patting the back of the JVP to insinuate a JVP-UNP ‘deal’ to create the erosion of JVP cadres. 

The misguided UNPers who think they are elites by virtue of being UNP and the slaves of the Pohottuwa seem to believe that it is the birth right of their politicians to loot a range of institutions from the Central bank to the tea kiosk by the road scraping the last bit of life, flesh and blood in those institutions. They also seem to believe that it is the birth duty of the JVP to scream from the top of their voices exposing those crimes in Parliament.  They will vote for the old favorites for personal gain or out of blind habit and believe that the JVP should come to the rescue when political and financial fraud knocks on the door. 

If not for Left Politics the decent, humane society that we hope to build will never be realized. Whether Left Politics will lead to a President or the formation of a government, if not for their existence many of our ideals of a civilized society will not be defended: our freedoms, safe guarding public funds, our women, our sexual identity freedoms will all be defended only and finally by Left Politics. 

JVP That ‘Sees’ Women

The formidable contribution of the speeches made by women at the JVP rally held amidst thousands were both conducive to the intellect and the heart. Those woman speakers not engaging in gutter mouthed politics to titillate the gallery offered something to be learnt by men and women both. For seven decades, the diminished female participation in politics has been aptly covered in the elitist fall of Sirima and Chandrika’s saree. JVP breathed a new life to that throttled spirit of women on that stage. 

The JVP has managed to deliver to women what the “decoration women politicians” could never do from the UNP, that grand old party. Let’s also not forget the conscience of the Medamulana clan probably does not even house a thought on women or equality in their upstairs. 

’What Will Happen?

Anyone and everyone who is politically conscious ask each other the question: “what will happen?” The heavy and unmistakable shadow of populism is cast over Sri Lanka unsatisfied by an Anura Candidacy, Gota Candidacy, Ranil Candidacy or a Sajith Candidacy.

The victor of this story would be the one who manages politics and populism. In this anomalous political environment, the need is not just for Left Politics Survival. Left Politics ought to flourish. 

Anura’s voice, rising from the shores of the Galle Face ignites a hope of that flourishing. 

In a society that truly does not know what tomorrow brings, that hope alone ignites more hope. 

This is the English translation of “ගාලු මුවදොර වෙරළින් ඇසුණු අනුර” on Colombo Telegraph by Arundathie Sangakkara. The translation is by Arundathie Sangakkara. 

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