By K. D. Lalkantha –
The incumbent President and the government were elected to power by the ballots of 69 thousand voters of this country. During the recent elections, a majority of the working class worked tooth and nail and voted en masse for the President and for the government to bring them to power. Nevertheless, today the working class along with the people at large are left high and dry in the lurch, leaving behind their hopes and dreams shattered. In the circumstance, masses have already come to conclude that the present rulers are facing a conundrum while the masses have found themselves badly let down in dire straits. Of late, due to internal rifts and infighting within the government ranks, there is apparent dissension brewing in the inner ruling circles. In the history of Sri Lanka, the rulers in the incumbent government seems to be the weakest legislators ever elected to rule our country causing fissures in the social and political fabric.
In the wake of the current confusion arising out of the inharmonious situation among the ruling party members, the administration is dragging its feet and has started to demonstrate signs of complacency in fulfilling the needs of the masses, thus affecting the credibility in the eyes of the public. Hence, the rulers are seemingly embroiled in having a tiger by the tail. Evidently, the government is in a quagmire unable to easily break the deadlock and iron out the problems to start focussing on the burning issues of the masses.
On the other hand, United National Party, which one time commanded a stronger voter base, has split into two parties during the recent past. This bizarre situation coupled with party leadership crisis had sent shock waves within the party members, frustrating and driving them hither and thither. In the realm of mainstream politics, UNP group under the leadership of Ranil Wikremesinghe, who had been sequestering has fallen into the doldrums and has sent his party into oblivion. As far as the leader of Samagi Jana Balawegaya, Sajith Premadasa is concerned, more than his party members, his close inner circle stalwarts have come to recognise him as an innocuous, yet a naïve and a weak leader in the annals of the political history, let alone steering any mainstream political party. In this regard, even his close associates are overwhelmingly pessimistic about the future of their party, not to mention a political upheaval for any success at elections, and his ability to develop our country. Sajith, although is the leader of opposition by virtue of the parliamentary traditions, public including his party stalwarts reckon him as the leader of opposition in name only. His demonstrated political immaturity in Parliament seems to be the contributory factor for the build up his grotesque image. More so, Sajith Premadasa, for some reason or other, is still identified and goes as the son of late President Premadasa in the political circles. However, Ranil Wickremesinghe during his tenure, on the other hand, had been a better choice and was seen as a better performer in parliament. Yet in terms of the public outcry over the Central Bank treasury bond scandal, his reputation and public standing are in tatters. His name has been sullied in the wake of damning treasury bond accusations. However, his past pigheaded attitude with his party members including his taint and stain on his political career are going to haunt him and would remain indelible forever.
In fact, the Sri Lankan political climate, of late has drastically changed for the worse. Masses are at the receiving end of the current economic downturn and the Covid pandemic ravaging the country. Today the people are feeling the brunt of these scourges. Masses have come to know the dire need of a genuine alternative political force to deal with the current situation and clean up the political mess. In the meantime, NPP notwithstanding its temporary setbacks, together with JVP have stood the test of time and have been steadfast to win the hearts and minds of the populace. They have already begun reaching out to community groups and members of the public. People have placed their total confidence in NPP with their broad spectrum of coalitions along with JVP and have started rallying round them in numbers. This turn of events is more than sufficient to clear any mistrust placed on us as we have set all our records straight. In this backdrop, masses have come to understand that they are the only available patriotic team in the limelight, devoid of corrupt practices, capable of making things happen to fulfil their needs and aspirations. Yet in reality, people may have second thoughts in their minds about our capability to clinch ruling power.
Proving the sceptics and naysayers wrong, today as a political party, we have gone through the thick and thin of our political journey whilst experiencing and learning the trick of the trade through the hard way in parliament. It is no secret that we have flipped over to face challenges in any sector to prove ourselves with a team of highly acclaimed professionals and academics as a strong political organisation capable of turning the tide. Therefore, it is high time for us to prove our mettle in respect of our political leadership, prowess, and acumen to pull our country from the current mess for a better tomorrow. No doubt, there are burning issues of the working class and the general populace, let alone the unresolved disputes in the sectors of the teaching profession and the farming community. Ceylon Teachers Union had been agitating and waging an unrelenting trade union struggle to win over many demands of those engaged in the teaching profession. Accordingly, our trade union was in the forefront and had been able to win their demands and prove our credibility as an acclaimed trade union. This was a monumental success for us. Likewise, in many other sectors, our trade union struggles have shown amazing progress and successes by way of scaling up the heat in our political struggles in the trade union battle fronts. On the other hand, most of the rural village folks are seriously burdened with debts and are embroiled in debt traps. They are finding it unable to repay the loans and have started facing a crisis. As of now, we have a serious challenge before us to coordinate all these sectors to marshal and garner their support to get the political power transferred to the working class.
In the current developing political scenario, there is uncertainty. As usual, when the current administrative system decays, and collapses, a new system would replace the older one. In short, I would say that we have come to a point where our whole society has morally decayed. Specially when you take the government institutions, and for that matter, even other institutions, inefficiency has crept into the system. From top to bottom, the government machinery has almost come to a grinding halt leaving our economy in shambles. On the other hand, our country has been pawned to China and America and the rulers are seemingly depending on the meagre income accrued from pawning. Historically, our politicians had been displaying the traits of inborn innate betrayers. Going a step further, present rulers of late have resorted to pawn our country without any qualms, merely for power, vainglory and other miscellaneous privileges, not to mention their other corrupt practices.
Anyone, who takes a glimpse of our history would grasp the reality and would easily understand that this trend had been there from time immemorial. It would also be interesting to note that the same group of corrupt and insatiably greedy politicians ruled our country, amassing colossal wealth during their lives planning to be in power for ever. Conversely, in the absence of proper administration, masses are compelled to be in the frontlines to intervene in the affairs of the country with total dedication and valour to keep the administrative machinery running. Meanwhile, even in the present, one may find a few unruly and vicious miscreants in our decaying society who survives by betraying others and who are right now holding the reins of power in our country. In this scenario, it is our bounden responsibility to muster and bring together the progressive minded civil organisations and the patriotic masses under an umbrella. Although it is not in our interest to boast, in the present context the truth remains that we are reluctantly compelled to play the role of the opposition in parliament and elsewhere. In this context, we are proud to boast about our 3 NPP parliamentarians standing tall and discharging their responsibilities in full swing. They are comparable to three Lotus flowers which have blossomed, (so to say in a “pigsty”) in our godforsaken parliament. It should be borne in mind that despite insurmountable odds like fabricated canards for calculated smear campaigns and mudslinging on our members, we are unabatedly continuing with our effort to spearhead agitations and demonstrations. We are forging ahead with our people friendly activities in parliament and outside of our parliament.
Among other things, economic policy followed by the incumbent regime, the previous regime as well as the so-called opposition of Sajith or Ranil Wickremesinghe, in essence are the same. All these parties follow the same economic policy. From their point of view, the Port City project is considered a great achievement and a viable project. For them, even the human-elephant conflict in the rural areas, obtaining foreign loans or the curtailment of pensions is thought to be great achievements. The administration from 1977 up to the current administration of Gotabaya Rajapaksa, had done little or no development work, beneficial to the masses. On the contrary they have conveniently incorporated above said types of disastrous measures in their agendas without recourse to the far-reaching consequences and the possible disastrous impact on the society, economy, environment, culture etc. As far as we are concerned, we do not see any new arrangement in their approach as the present economic system is what could be termed a “neoliberal economy” which had been in practise even during the time of the previous regime. In the wake of the government facing crisis after crisis, the rulers have side stepped from handling the economy by putting the heavy financial burden of the country on the shoulders of the people. This is further indicative of the poor state of financial management and provides a clue about the rulers’ attitude of foreshadowing to sidestep from many other sectors like education, health, transport etc in the future.
What’s more, when you speak of the Covid-19 pandemic, government seems to have totally mismanaged and neglected the health sector, whilst paying lip service and providing advice like requesting the citizens to wear face masks, drink warm water, social distancing, hand sanitising and to inhale steam as precautionary measures. This vividly debunks the government’s inefficiency and their lackadaisical intentions. Since 1977, this had been the modus operandi of all successive governments which took over the reins of power. Meanwhile the rulers who clinched power and ruled the country, fooled the masses, mismanaged and messed up the economy whilst amassing filthy lucre with their coterie of scoundrels and boot licking officialdom by way of amassing kickbacks and commissions etc. On the other hand, some rulers had totally lost sight of the public and were dreaming of a comfortable cosy lifestyle akin to a Monarch in order to satisfy their insatiable greed. However, these are only a minuscule of their notorious deeds. Yet the lid remains to be blown up for the full can of worms to escape. Nevertheless, the rulers are not out of the woods.
Under the circumstances, people from different walks of life have started to analyse the prevailing situation in the country. Many have begun to criticise the corrupt practices of the politicians. While others have started speaking of JVP and UNP some even have started gossiping and criticizing about the fissures and the internal rifts in the government. Yet no party had been bold enough to come out with a proposal or action plan to change the prevalent corrupt system. In any event, we have already taken the challenge of changing the current crumbling and corrupt political system. In this backdrop, it is only NPP that seems to be the frontrunner, having the impetus and wisdom to shoulder the burden to clear current political mess. Therefore, it is our fervent clarion call and our request to our countrymen to trust in our ability for a better tomorrow and not to fall prey to vicious and false propaganda you may come across. At this hour of calamity, I earnestly request my countrymen to join hands with us in this sacred political journey and let there be no modicum of doubt in our ability to turn the tide.
Any country has its own unique system of social, economical, cultural and political integrity and independence. At a glance, although one could see our country named as Sri Lanka in the world map our country has many other facets of identities such as uniqueness of our values and beliefs, our fauna and flora, culture and heritage etc; Apart from that, we do have a set of laws of our own land. These are the foundations by which a country is being differentiated from another. Further, our country is endowed with a traditional intertwined social, economic, political and cultural entity and order. We do represent and uphold the independence of our country and that is the very reason behind our engagement in the struggle against the establishment of Port City. The court of law may give any verdict on the few lawsuits filed against the Port City, which are pending adjudication. Nevertheless, as a political party we are compelled to conduct awareness campaigns to explain the masses, on possible long term and short term devastating consequences as a result of this project. It is my contention that Port City construction could bring about detrimental effects to our society, culture, economy and especially our political independence. In short, establishment of Port City could be considered as an act of betrayal and in the long run it is sure to erode our hard earned independence from the tyranny of foreign invaders.
What’s more, from a geopolitical perspective, Sri Lanka offers a variety of attractions to the world powers as our island nation is strategically positioned in the Indian Ocean. Hence many world powers have started clearly reflecting their intent and great interest in Sri Lanka. It is not surprising that the world powers are eyeing to get a foothold to wield their political influence over our country. At the same time, whenever an agreement is reached with India, it has been the practice for a country like America to intervene. Thereafter, on the same issue another country like China starts intervening. This course of action seems to be a harbinger of demands by world powers to request parts of our country. Accordingly, rulers are made to oblige, jeopardising our independence and sovereignty of the country.
In the face of these unreasonable moves, we were compelled to object to the implementation of the Colombo Port City project. Although Sri Lanka has a special place in the world arena, politicians for their convenience, in this precarious situation do not care two hoots and tend to brush everything aside and take things for granted. Sri Lanka is an independent country with its own territorial integrity. Further, I would like to emphasize that it is not our intention in any way to lock horns with China, India or America Nevertheless, the unfortunate and often unspoken reality is that powerful countries are always aligned towards sabre-rattling to wield their influence on other nations.
During our struggles at national level, I feel that our people didn’t have the required clout to stage demonstrations. It appeared that they were distancing themselves from the problems and were trying to avoid taking part in demonstrations. We have understood the mind set and their nature. During our struggle against the Port City project, to showcase the mass scale disadvantage and the disastrous consequences, masses failed to understand our motive. They did not understand that we were waging the struggle on their behalf for the goodwill of people. However, later when we continued to stage the struggle against Port City, we observed that there are patriotic people who understand the root causes and the possible future calamities, as their day-to-day life style is seen to be entwined with the port and its environment. In any event, it should be borne in mind that masses have not given a Carte Blanche to the rulers for the implementation of the Port City project.
On the other hand, when the rulers were made to kneel down after entering into an agreement like Indo-Lanka, nationwide people felt a sense of dissatisfaction. Since, 2001 to 2004, people saw the writing on the wall and came to know that there’s going to be a separate state and further people felt that a problem was brewing. During such situations, we have boldly stood with the people upholding the country’s integrity and the masses were supporting us. When there are no decisive national issues, politically the situation changes. Elephant-human conflict and school principal issues are also very sensitive issues, like any other national issues to the general public. These are only a minuscule of burning issues. Yet there are a multitude of issues, including the day-to-day issues faced by the masses that have to be brought to the limelight with a view to resolve them.
Nevertheless, there are clouds on the horizon for the lame duck government in power which is seen to be gradually crumbling. As the political instability is gaining momentum, it is time for us to roll up our sleeves and flip into emergency mode to ramp up our campaigns as was done during previous occasions. We will be going to town with the facts on a multitude of burning issues received from different fronts of every nook and cranny of the populace
All these issues will be taken to the centre stage and thrashed out to keep the public aware. Island wide, the general public, would be comprehensively made aware of the prevailing situation in the country and we will gradually strive to take the bull by the horn along with people’s power.
*Excerpts from former JVP MP Lalkantha’s interview with “Niyamuwa” newspaper