By Kumar David –
Can the Dead Left be recalled to life? Communist Party reviews its options
There has been a significant development in the Communist Party of Sri Lanka. A conference at the end of October, in a critical review of the recent past, determined that supporting the Eighteenth Amendment (18A) was a blunder. This has implications because the CP will now have to review its stand on a range of issues; most important abolishing Executive Presidency (EP). It has been the CP’s position from 1978 that EP was a monstrosity foisted on the country by JR; hence supporting 18A was an inexplicable contradiction. It makes no sense to increase executive powers and remove term limits if you think EP is repugnant! The two explanations at the time; Vasudeva’s “Oppose in principle, but support in practice”, and Tissa’s “Once the SLMC decided to support it, Mahinda was assured of two-thirds, so we may as well support it”, make one ask whether these two need psychiatric attention. The CP reclassifying its support for 18A as a blunder is a step in the right direction.
Since the CP has gone back on 18A, it will have to give its mind to three other matters; will it expressly call for the Executive Presidency to be abolished, will it oppose and vote against the Divineguma Bill, will it oppose the witch hunt of the Chief Justice? The importance of all three cannot be overstated. Ending EP is life and death for Lankan democracy. This has been much debated so I need spend no more newsprint today. Divineguma is another Rajapakse power grab. I am not sure which is more egregious; the Rajapakse siblings’ grab of the lion’s share (64%) of the state budget, or shredding provincial devolution. The first consolidates autocracy and family power; the latter is extreme centralisation and monopolisation, an element in the same strategy.
Impeaching, or more correctly lynching the CJ is another nail in the coffin of democracy. Of course they will dig up dirt on the CJ, her husband, or her great grandmother; UPFA MPs and other clowns need something to cover their nakedness with. The unqualified truth, however, is that this is a move by the Executive to bring the Judiciary to heel and reduce it to a pliant instrument in its hands. The CJ who bummed the regime by ratifying 18A is now to be strung up herself. That the regime has windigo psychos cannot be lost on the CP, which now has to choose between certain death by political atrophy, if it stays with the government, or a pounding by the regime if it distances itself. There is outrage in the membership because the CP leadership tried to go along with CJ impeachment; it is likely this will be reversed by the PB and CC.
If the Rajapakses lynche the CJ, the public can kiss free and fair elections goodbye – it’s pretty battered already. Once the judiciary is enslaved, the young may reasonably conclude that direct action is the only remaining option. The regime will then unleash the military, whose blood lust it has primed in a racial war. Marxists foresaw all this a long time ago; the CP is just getting the point. Still I am glad; better late than never.
The LSSP and DLF
The CP is well aware that the step it is taking will have consequences; its relationship with the Rajapakse quasi-dictatorship will rapture. If it stays with, and is a party to, mounting dictatorship, its own skull will soon be crushed under the tracks of a tank. If it moves out of Cabinet (whether it sits in the government parliamentary group or not) that will free it from obligation to worship Rajapakse five times a day. What I mean is it can speak freely and critically. This will have an impact on stooges like Hakeem, Thonda, Tissa and Vasu. How long can these pallid poodles carry on kissing posteriors if the CP begins straight talking?
Quite rightly, the CP is said to be of the opinion that a decision about its relationship with the Rajapakse regime has to be made in consultation with the LSSP and DLF. This is the right way to get started. What will then unfold is as follows; Tissa and Vasu will fight tooth and nail to contain the CP and safeguard their own Cabinet posts. Conversely, the LSSP Left Tendency will be energised and surface as a faction demanding that the LSSP opposes the Executive Presidency, the Divinaguma Bill and the attack on judicial independence. Anger at Tissa for signing-on to lynch the CJ is already running high in the LSSP. Nothing will happen in the DLF; that party is vacant of mind and populated by place seekers collecting allowances in Ministry sinecures.
Although Tissa and Vasu will peddle a pro-Mahinda line and seek to contain the CP, thanks to internal tensions within the LSSP, and the event’s invigorating effect nationally, a show of real defiance by the CP may help empower the left nationally. Nevertheless, let me close on a cautious note. This is all a best case scenario, predicated on the supposition that the CP sticks to its guns and the challenge posed by the LSSP Left Tendency does not run out of steam. The Rajapakses are past masters at subterfuge. Will they succeed in frightening or bribing the party leaderships into surrender, again? Personally, I am in no position to offer bets and lean to pessimism; but I hope the Dead Left does not capitulate again and dig itself an even deeper grave.