26 September, 2020

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Contradictions And Disconnects; Will “Vipakshayé Virodaya” Threaten Rajapaksa ?

By Kusal Perera

Kusal Perera

“Our aim is to change the regime. So we invite everyone to join hands with us.” – Ranil Wickremesinghe – UNP leader, at the launch of the new “Opposition Agitation” (Vipakshaye Virodaya) Monday 11 February, 2013

Another seemingly new “alliance” launched on February 11 Monday, has some “throw away” politicians also on board and make the same stale statements as before. For how long would the people keep listening to such statements, that in effect are only statements ? Will the people take seriously, any statement to the effect that the Rajapaksa regime would be overthrown soon ? This in fact is not the first time Wickramasinghe had said, he would topple the Rajapaksa regime. A few days before in Matara, Wickramasinghe said, after he pledged to topple the Rajapaksa regime by 2014, the regime has got scared. Few years ago, he called on all democratic forces to join the “Platform for Freedom” that announced a “Five Precept” programme of action titled “Commitment for Change”. He promised to topple the Rajapaksa regime and rebuild the country, on that platform too. Launched in November, 2009, at the Jayawardne Centre, “Platform for Freedom” then did not include the TNA, officially.

During a slow and a lazy hike through 03 years and many elections including the 2010 presidential and parliamentary elections that needs no new comment, the Platform for Freedom had new add-ons like the single headed New JHU and the TNA at its public meetings. But, it went into total slumber during the “Impeachment” against Chief Justice Bandaranayake. As one at Hulftsdorp said, even police dogs wouldn’t have traced where those leaders were, during the “impeachment”. This  “Opposition Agitation” launched anew, comes in the wake of “Platform for Freedom” giving up on it’s rusty credibility to speak about democratic issues. The new “Opposition Agitation” includes more names, a longer list of political affiliations, but apparently nothing new.

What nevertheless made some to take another look at this “Opposition Agitation” was its first campaign in Thelippalai, on behalf of Tamil people. It looked a new approach with the TNA firmly in and away from Sinhala chauvinism that often tails campaigns led by the UNP. But that was 305 kms away in Jaffna. Here in Colombo, despite Wickramasinghe’s reported speech in Thelippalai against  high security zones robbing the right of the Tamil people there to have their own land, his own Sinhala trade union leaders in the Jathika Sevaka Sangamaya (JSS) were proposing to organise support bases in their branch unions, for the newly emergent, extremely violent and racist “Bodu Bala Sena” (BBS). Local UNP supporters were seen canvassing support for BBS slogans to boycott Muslim shops and “Halal” certified products. There is definitely a total disconnect between Wickramasinghe and his own party loyalists. A gap that had never been attempted at, in politically bridging.

He has not been able to mobilise affiliate organisations of the party, in taking up serious issues against the present regime. The JSS is far outside any trade union activism. It had never been allowed to develop a workplace leadership, even to match the Sri Lanka Nidahas Sevaka Sangamaya, of the SLFP. Therefore it had never taken any initiative to even mobilise its own membership on any issue. Not even on galloping cost of living or on wage increases. They thus remain, more as party sympathisers. During Cyril Mathew‘s time, he got it mobilised as a Sinhala thug outfit and the JSS remains so, though without venom.

The UNP’s women wing, the “Lak Vanitha” remains an organisation whose leadership prefers to donate mats, while women and children from North to South get abused, raped and murdered, one leading English Sunday news paper said was 05 rapes a day. This women’s leadership in the UNP is alien to the large presence of toiling young women in the Apparel Sector and slaving Rizana Nafeeks in the ME, who play a very vital role for this deficit driven Rajapaksa economy. There is a mismatch, both in terms of personalities who can not afford to challenge the Rajapaksa regime with their spouses enjoying positions and privileges awarded by the ruling regime and in terms of political naivety in them.

With such heavy baggages not taken to account, this new collective of parties and groups in this new alliance that has no clear political programme, but only slogans they feel, could be popular attractions, has no additional constituencies, apart from the UNP and the TNA. Politically therefore this is not much different to the previous alliances and the programmes that were adopted. The “Five Precepts” titled “Commitment for Change” put forward when the Platform for Freedom was launched 03 years and 03 months ago, contains almost the same formula, though in a different format. It thus says, there is a fundamental flaw in how opposition politics understand alliances for “unity” and how they are defined. That flaw is what keeps this Rajapaksa regime afloat, though in turbid waters.

“Unity” in a broad, party “front” is calculated in numbers of leaders sans quality that would sit on the stage and the numbers that would address the meeting. But increased numbers on stage without political quality, does not necessarily bring increased numbers to the venue of the meeting. Nor does that increased number of leaders on stage, increase the political interest and motivation of the “anti Rajapaksa” crowd. The interest of marginalised and disgruntled polity, in rallying round the alliance. More because, some who are brought to the “Opposition Agitation” stage to increase numbers are discredited “political tourists” recently arrived to be on opposition platforms. The question is, how could a serious change come about, with a new political alliance.

A change would want a thoroughly thrashed out programme, the whole society could easily see and feel as an alternative to what this Rajapaksa regime holds out for them. Equally important is the motivation and conviction the larger constituencies in the alliance have in carrying through that programme. Today what matters is the Southern constituency the UNP could reach out to. What matters is the possibility of reaching out to that Sinhala constituency, as different to the Rajapaksas in every aspect of governance. On that, this new “Opposition Agitation” should be seen in the South as “anti Rajapaksa” in both form and content, with a promise for the future. Politically as anti racist, pro democratic and development oriented in content. When Wickramasinghe speaks for the Tamil people in Thelippalai, that political inclusiveness, that plurality, has to be seen and understood in that very same tone and colour, in Maharagama too. Its that consistency in inclusiveness, in plurality which defines a political alternative to Rajapaksa, as socially valid. But that with the UNP, is not the case. Wickramasinghe can not make that happen. That is where the UNP led  alliances have always failed.

Its partly the very chauvinistic birth of the UNP and its Sinhala history that buckles a pluralistic, inclusive presence. A Sinhala chauvinist party from birth, into power, it started off in 1948 by disfranchising Indian origin Tamils and leaving them “Stateless”. It started changing the demographic pattern in the East through colonising. It marched against the Tamil people in 1957. It instigated violence against Tamils in 1979 and in 1981 May-June, destroyed Jaffna town and burnt the Jaffna library. In 1983 July, it organised the most ruthless racial violence in our history, destroying Tamil business and devastating Tamil life. From D.S. to Jayawardne through Premadasa to Wijetunge, UNP has acted as very racial, Sinhala nationalist regimes for the benefit of Sinhala businessmen. Its a political heritage the UNP still lives with and is carried by men like Sajith, Karu Jayasuriya and most others in Wickramasinghe’s good books too, who’d not challenge the Sinhala politics of this Rajapaksa regime. Its easy for them to live with traditional Sinhala politics of the party, visiting Buddhist temples, and talking of individual corruption instead.

The party as a whole thus remains a total contradiction to what Wickramasinghe articulates in his liberal language and he has proved he keeps away from overcoming that contradiction. This racist contradiction was so even in the SLFP, when Chandrika Kumaratunge was brought in as the leader. Her inclusive politics was only an attraction for the remnant “Left” and perhaps for the moderates in Tamil society. She was not accepted by the SLFP for her politics. The SLFP carried her over as a “face change” that could defeat the UNP after 17 years of continuous rule. She was brought in with a guarantee, that she would only help glue the North – East market to the South and not hand it over to “Left” politics. Thus her promise to “humanise” the open economy.

Though with Chandrika as its head, in political content and life, the SLFP remained the party that made Sinhala language the only official language in this country in 1956. The party that for the first time used the military in the North in 1962 to crush Federal Party (FP) protest campaigns. Marched against Tamil people in 1968 and left the young novice Buddhist monk Dambarawe Rathanasara a victim of the protest. It remained the party that brought in geographical and language “standardisation” for university entrance and created the Republican Constitution in 1972, in further marginalising the minorities. Why Chandrika as President in August 2000 could not push her new Constitution with a substantial package on devolution, was not only because the UNP opposed it. But more because her own Ministers and MPs were openly agitated and PM Rathnasiri decided to stall it, with Mahinda backing him and MP Dixon Perera crossing over to the UNP.

Both the SLFP and the UNP as Sinhala political parties in the South competing between each other for political power, were only pushed to consider minority rights as an economic necessity. As a necessity for a larger market and social stability. The contradiction and disconnect in politics between the liberal leader and the Sinhala party and its affiliate organisations, stem from this endemic political chauvinism. This historical contradiction and disconnect has to be addressed, if Wickramasinghe wants to prove his statement right. Wickramasinghe needs to have with his latest “Opposition Agitation”, the new consumerist urban working class that came into being after the economy was opened in 1978. He needs to have the working class that by now has extremely large swathes of women labour, if he is to prove his statement right. The UNP as a party has to lead a political change in the new “Opposition Agitation”, gearing its JSS as a trade union and its Lak Vanitha as a women’s front, to break this “disconnect”. The party would have to be dragged out politically to oppose and challenge a Sinhala regime, instead of meekly following Sinhala racist campaigns that prop the Rajapaksa regime. Dragged out to challenge the regime on severe breach of law enforcement and rampant crime.

What is amiss, is the capacity and capability of the UNP leadership in taking that political turn. The second level leadership that Jayawardne groomed to back his politics in the party is wholly absent for Wickramasinghe, as a political backup. His insecure reluctance to groom a second level leadership in the party is now telling on its politics. New faces accepted from political hikers on a stage will not be a substitute that makes the “Opposition Agitation” work as an anti Rajapaksa campaign. All who were there and all who were brought in, would only add extra weight in carrying a larger entourage around the country, to speak to the Southern Sinhala  constituency of the UNP that still opt to remain with the legacies of Premadasa and Cyril Mathew. Would still feel closer to and comfortable with the Sinhala racist campaigns of BBS, in the absence of a political change in the whole party, top to bottom. The presence of the TNA may have some influence in keeping the “lost comrades” of the “Left” on the platform, but that is also no answer for the UNP constituency to change. “Commitment for Change” that was promised to the people 03 years and 03 months ago on the now defunct Platform for Freedom, should first come from within the UNP, for Wickramasinghe to give some substance to his oft repeated statement, that he is out to topple the Rajapaska regime in 2014. He still has time, if he accepts the parliament is not where politics play decisively, is serious and politically capable both in his own party and outside with the alliance to engage politically against Sinhala racism, calling for a change for plurality and democracy.

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Latest comments

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    Kusal, good try but lets stop grabbing at straws, we are looking in the WRONG place for change. Neither the UNP NOR SLFP can bring change, They are rotten and corrupt to the core and headed by Dictators and wanna be dictators..
    Time to think outside the box: the next generation MUST TO BE THE CHANGE and take over since the current generation, particularly the politicians have brought ruin to Lanka which is on the verge of being a failed state.
    The country needs a YOUNG, ENERGETIC, BRAVE AND WISE President who can be the change like Barack Obama in the US! OBAMA of course has not really delivered but the US is a superpower so course correction is slow..
    4. There is one young, bright, wise and energetic person that can be the change in Lanka two years down the road at the next Presidential election – an outsider to the dirty game of politics and the Diyawenna parliament of morons, crooks, goons etc. who could rise above and steer a different course. KUMAR SANGAKKARA who would win the votes whose candidacy for President will crack the current CORRUPT TO the hilt political formation within the UNP and SLFP – appeal to the youth who are the future of this multicultural society..
    5, MOST IMPORTANTLY SANGA is a national figure who represents unity, and who would attract votes from ALL PARTIES.. Civil Society and the Business community must start a campaign NOW – SANGA FOR PRESIDENT – TO BE THE CHANGE THAT LANKA DESPERATELY NEEDS and hopefully he will take up a new batting challenge for a higher cause since he understands MULTICULTURALISM better than most politicians and know how to WIN AND LOSE GRACEFULLY!

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      The SLFP, UNP, SLMC, TNA and other existing political parties have proven themselves incapable of solving the fundamental problems confronting the people of this country, collectively and as communities. We need to build a new system of governance. This can be only accomplished by movement led by principled , cultured and wise persons of all communities. The vision such movement promotes should catch should fire the imagination of the people. Thereafter , the movement should transform itself into a political party. Of course, with the passage of time, any movement- political or religious- once institutionalised, becomes self serving and loses sight of the fundamentals. However, the vision, zest , zeal and the quality of persons in the movement cum party, will serve us well for at least ten years. This interlude should help transform governance radically in this country. It should be a revolution by sensible, principled persons, supported my the overwhelming majority in this country. Patch work solutions will not work. The current system has to be overthrown. The dyke – good governance- that stands between civilised life and barbarism, is leaking all over today. The success of the Dutch boy who stopped a leak from a dyke with his finger, cannot be repeated here. A new dyke has to be built and that too as quickly as possible, if we are to move forward as a civilised country.

      Incidentally, I was at a discussion group yesterday where Dayasiri Jayasekera of the UNP spoke on the topic ‘ Need for electoral reform’. I was impressed with his understanding of the immensity of the problems confronting this country, the quality of the present parliament and government, and the depths to which his own party has sunk. He is potentially, one of the persons who should be in the forefront of a new movement to radically transform this country. I am sure there are many like him, yet in this country. They should come together and their collective voice and vision heard.

      Dr.Rajasingham Narendran

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      Don Stanley,
      It is people like you who have ruined SF by given him false hopes and sending him up the grease pole only to abandon him no sooner than he lost the election. I think Sanga has no chance whatsoever. Besides, I observe he is too smart to be your guinea pig.

      You fellows seem to think it is just a simple matter and a cakewalk for the President to keep the greedy lot that we elect as MPs happy and in his fold and run the government. You have forgotten what happened to Premadasa. Remember, JRJ had 5/6th majority in parliament; yet he took undated letters of resignations from all his MPs as a precautionary measure to rein them and keep them in his fold. MR is doing it in a different way. He bribes them with ministerial posts and use his brothers to check them. If not his government wouldn’t have lasted more than a few years. That’s Sri Lanka democracy, I suppose.

      I back MR because he keeps the country peaceful and stable. In so far as I could see, there is no other in sight, who is capable of doing his job better. Anyway, it’s good that you guys keep looking for one.
      Leela

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      Don Stanley,

      When people are sinking and drifting even a straw is a rope! Not that Sangakkara is not good as a person, personality and conduct wise but the problem lies in your desperate choice! You are the people who thought along the same lines and opted for Paba, Sanath Jayasuriya and those media persons to represent you in parliament. Where are they now? You ruined the career of an actress, cricketer and journalist and still trying to jump to the same pit! If Sangakkara wants to do politics it is a matter for him to decide and make a start somewhere. Anyhow, he cannot be a successful politician because look at his career-he has been brought up, reared, trained, groomed and developed as a cricketer; he has no exposure whatsoever to politics! And a naïve, immature, amateur, childish and clueless person like you come along and makes the most stupid proposal one can make because who the hell are you to speak on behalf of Sangakkara?

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        Don Stanley, excellent idea and thanks for thinking outside the box of corrupt politicians of the UNP and UPFA who are in a bipartisan agreement to ruin Lanka!
        Sanga is a Brilliant bet to save Lanka from ruin and be the next President of Lanka with the help of civil society and the business community.
        He is clean meaning NOT corrupt, intelligent, a lawyer, a NATIONAL FIGURE and will UNITE Lanka’s diverse communities as no other politician can!
        Today we are in an age of young leaders – Britain’s David Camaron was less than 40 when he became PM and so was Obama was early forties when he became US president..
        Sanga can be the change and we need to start the campaign to pusuade hid to BAT FOR LANKA and save it from the disgraceful politicians of the SL parliament. I am a fan having seen his great speech at Lords!

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          Dinuk, Don Stanly et al,

          How about Nai Nalangana for a change for the leadership of YOU? She can sleep with Arabians too and even with snakes as well!!!!

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    Despite its failure to completely unite the opposition the VV does have some value as it embraces a fairly wide spectrum of parties and ethnicities. Also its venture to show solidarity with the people of jaffna, did ring some alarm bells in the govt, as evinced by the attacks by pro govt thugs.

    If VV can continue agitating in this manner it may be be able to build up some support and momentum. RW did make a fairly strong speech in parliment against the activities of the BBS. So I do not know why the JSS is playing this double game, if what Kusal says is correct.

    RW must see the writing on the wall, that this is now his end game. If he fails to deliver by 2014 he should depart, true to the watchword of his old school.

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      To Safa,
      I don’t know of trade union JSS and its politics. But most UNP provincial councilors and LG members are Sinhala racist to the core. Even people like Ravi K will not speak on Tamil or Muslim issues. He thinks Kotte Buddhists will vote for him. Jayawickrama Perera the most veteran leader now in UNP is responsible for Jaffna Library burning. Talk to Ranil’s most trusted friends in the party, they are skeptical about taking Tamil issues. That is the UNP.
      RW will not have political dialogue even in the party. A would be Dictator. So little chance for SL with RW and his UNP.
      Must think outside that.
      AS

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      You are barking up the wrong tree.. Let’s vote KUMAR SANGAKKARA he can unite the opposition!
      RW is part of the problem and will never be the solution.. 2014 will be too late.. RW cannot even unite his own party, so how can he run a joint opposition? He is too busy undercutting the younger generation in the UNP.. RW is a truly pathetic human being!
      Lets get an outsider to politics to be the next Prez. of Lanka and who cares if the UNP and SLFP splinter into a thousand and one pieces.. the more pieces the merrier.!
      These two parties, UNP and SLFP, which are CORRUPT to the core and run by unethical dictators who have enslaved the public and gutted democracy and the political culture of Sri Lanka..
      Now they need to be dismantelled – they are corrupt, rotten white elephants and Lankan citizens need to emancipate themselves from this albetros!

      • 0
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        Dodo, You are pissing on the wrong tree.
        First Arjuna, then Sanath and now you want Kumar S. Why not a whole team including Mahela J, Muttiah M., Russle Arnold, Rumesh Ratnayake, Chaminda Vas, etc., etc. ? Man, picking balls behind wickets and hitting them with a bat, is no qualification to come to politics. Politics is a serious business, not just good PR work alone.
        AS

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    Regime change is not going to come because of the efforts of the UNP or any other party in opposition now. It can only be effected by outside forces or Sinhala extremist forces within the country. He is well aware of this and that is why he is encouraging the Sinhala extremist organisations to whip up anti Muslim extremism to get the support of the Sinhala masses. SWRD did this for political reasons and ended up losing his life at the very hands of a Sinhala Buddhist monk and that is why Rajapaksa is carefully cultivating the military and police forces through Gota to protect himself from such an end.

    The US or India can easily get rid of Rajapaksa and Gota without being caught. The West cutting off all imports and economic assistance will end the regime in a short period of time. Salvation for Sri Lanka is in the hands of the West.

  • 0
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    Nah…….. I think Runnil is just doing an assignement for MR, to mislead these small belligerent parties like the way he did to General Fonseka. Runnil is in MR’s payroll, and anyone linking up with him is a fool.

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    Kusul Pereras are part and parcel of the current plight of the Opposition.

    Kusul reckons Ranil can roll Rajapaksa in 2014 if he takes his advice and formulate a proper sensible and non communal agenda.

    Which makes sense.

    But what are their strategies and slogans.

    Mangala .the Chief Media Guru calls Buddhist Monks ” Ballo”.

    His followers among the Colombo Elite say ” Hear Hear”.

    Kusul quotes the Sunday English Paper to imply that the Sinhalese are the No1 rapists in the world.

    Sambandan , the new center forward is calling his mates in the Diaspora to tighten the screws harder on Rajapaksa in Geneva.

    Colombo Elite are threatening the inhabitants that new Elara, Ms Pillay is going to fix Rajapaksa sooner than later.

    US is now going to show the Red Card if Rajapaksa does not bend over before Geneva.

    Wouldn’t Ranil need at least 40% of the 75 % Sinhala Buddhist population to vote for him just to get into the Presidential House?.

    Wouldn’t he need even more if he wants to make Sambandan the PM?.

    Just imagine how much more to give Sambandan his wish list?.

    And all these have to come from the Sihanla Buddhists, the bulk of whom are rural poor living peacefully in their little villages with a bit of dough now than ever before.

    Will the above strategies and slogans even if dressed in sweet Sinhalese convince these great majority that Rajapaksa is bad and Mangal,a Sambandan and Ranil trio is good?.

    • 0
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      K.A. Sumanasekera,

      “..Mangala .the Chief Media Guru calls Buddhist Monks ” Ballo”…”

      On the contrary, Sumanaseera, these bald headed bastards must be despised and chased away from the temples and Sasana! These racist fuckers are the one who destroy Buddhism and this country in collusion with the Rajapaksha donkeys!

  • 0
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    K.A. Sumanasekera

    sundaytimes.lk reports:

    Mystery as Sri Lanka’s tourist arrivals rise amidst falling occupancy levels By Bandula Sirimanna

    Please read this news item and explain to me as to the disappearing tourists.

    • 0
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      Native,

      Who cares about the tourist numbers man ?.

      Inhabitants are scared shitiless about ,what is going to happen to their post Nanthikadal freedom and peace. when new Elara Pillay push the button to pass the new resolution to hang their Hero.

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