20 May, 2019

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Disunited Opposition Squawks Like A Headless Chicken

By Kumar David

Prof Kumar David

Disunited opposition squawks like a headless chicken-  Get serious about halting the juggernaut 

Even the fractious Syrian opposition has finally got its act together. At a recent meeting in Dohar military leaders of ground forces and mostly exiled political leaders (Syrian National Council) formed a unified assembly which was promptly recognised by the Arab League and will probably get arms and a no-fly zone enforced by Turkey and the West. Things could still fall apart, but a huge first step has been taken.

Over here however, a testy opposition, facing the Rajapakse juggernaut and looming disaster, squabbles, implodes and scurries about like a headless chicken. Why so determined to hang separately instead of cooperating to save their necks and salvage Lanka’s democratic crumbs? This tragicomedy has been in play for too long; it is timely and necessary to probe its origins. If we bare its historical and psychological roots, it may address the concerns of actors and encourage cooperation.

My political nose sniffs; it says the fortunes of the Rajapakse regime turned sharply down in the last quarter of 2012. A blend of events adds a more than usual stench to the air. At home, setback in the EP-PC elections, SEC firing, JSC assault, CJ witch-hunt, CP’s dissent, partial Divineguma retreat, swelling challenge to the Executive Presidency, and the unpopularity of the Budget, have all come together.

Abroad too, the screws are tightening;Genevain March 2013 may beckon the Ides of March. Information trickling in from many sources suggests that official attitudes inIndia,USA,NorwayandSouth Africaare hardening towards the Lankan regime. On the foreign economic side, trade deficit and debt servicing are menacing. The last quarter of 2012 will go down as the point when the fortunes of the regime began their descent. For the opposition all this should beckon good times . . . but . . .

Harakiri UNP style 

Harakiri, better known as Seppuku in Japan, is a form of ritual suicide by disembowelment. Wow, the monster sized moth in the ointment of the UNP, the largest opposition party, is evisceration by internal warfare. Its inability to function effectively in the political scene is 99% due to internal disarray and 1% Ranil’s ineffectiveness. I am not a Ranil fan, not by a long chalk, am anti-UNP, but I say this unabashedly. There is nothing effective a party can do if its leader has to keep looking back at an armoury of daggers ready to stab, and listen to gaggles of lieutenants callow in confronting the regime. True, Ranil has lost a score of elections (did he loose in 2005 or did Prabaharan lock away the Tamils?); he does not have a clue how to suck-up to the petty bourgeoisie; and worst, he has vacillated on policy matters and allowed perception to spread of sly deals with Mahinda. Otherwise how explain torpidity at this most opportune of moments when the regime is making a cock-up of everything? Or maybe he is just anodyne and lacks the killer instinct of the Pakses.

An outsider, it’s not my business how the UNP resolves the pandemonium in its bowels. But I must assert that lunacy inside is an impediment to cooperation outside. Take a recent example; the UNP dodged General Fonseka’s 15 October rally to launch a front to halt the Pakse juggernaut only because of the fracas in its innards. Ranil, Karu, Sajith and a score of lesser factotums give priority to hobbling each other, rather than politics. Hence the UNP failed to negotiate a format for joint action. Can’t these cack-handed bunglers declare a moratorium on backstabbing for a year till all party cooperation is worked out? In this respect I was glad to see an announcement that the JVP and UNP will cooperate in the public and private sector trade union arenas. This is an initiative for other unions too to engage with. One swallow does not a summer make, but it’s a good start.

What discomfits the UNP most is that despite Ranil’s shortcomings there is nobody to step forward as credible alternative – Karu is untrustworthy, Sajith trivial. A half credible challenger, given Ranil’s record of electoral defeats, would have taken the helm long ago. This is the primary reason why the UNP is better off declaring an internal truce for a few years.

The JVP and FSP

Mano Ganesan’s and General Fonseka’s outfits, thank heavens, are free of otiose sectarianism and are open to joint initiatives. The cultism of the Trotskyite sects is risible; why Bahu and Siritunga have separate parties is beyond logic or rational comprehension; let’s forget them. Of greater concern is the ignorance of united front activity that pervades the larger JVP and the FSP (JVP breakaway also known as Peratugami). A history lies behind the ideological muddle that pervades the JVP and its offspring. From its birth in the late 1960s, to the mid-1990s, the JVP kept aloof from everyone on the left. It believed it was endowed with a revolutionary imprimatur which would be soiled by association; so no fronts, no parley, no joint programmes. This dystopia was injurious in the trade union field and the JVP’s dread of other rising stars on the left was so appalling that it went so far as to murder Vijeya Kumaratunga.

After the slaughter following the stupid 1989-91 uprising, it finally penetrated JVP skulls that adventurism had reached a dead end. Then it turned a series of sometimes principled, and sometimes unprincipled alliances, all of which came to grief; Chandrika, Mahinda and Fonseka. Though JVP Ministers earned good names for efficiency and incorruptibility, one defect mired everything. The drop of mould that did all the rest despoil was the JVP’s anti-Tamil (it would prefer to say anti-LTTE, but the emotional underpinnings don’t fool anyone) orientation and its role as propaganda leader in maximising the war effort. In 2005 Mahinda seemed less chauvinist than now, but it was the JVP that arm twisted him into signing an extremist pact as a condition for support at the elections.

At the core of the Peratugami critique was concern with unprincipled alliances. They were deeply disappointed that the alliances had all ended in a blind alley leaving the JVP electorally devastated. The FSP was born of an experience that predisposed it to shun alliances. It is this past that now makes both JVP and FSP wary of alliances. Both fear that the fruits of joint action will fall into the lap of the larger UNP. Partly true, but better than going to the gallows separately.

The political tide is not going to give the lachrymose JVP and FSP time to lick their wounds. They have no option but to put aside cultish fears and work with others (that is with each other, the UNP and the TNA, to mention large units only). The Pakse juggernaut approaches ever nearer so I hope reflecting upon these realities will help UNP, JVP and FSP overcome phobias and paranoias.

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Latest comments

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    What had happened to your plan to get a Buddhist monk to do the dirty job??

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      Wije,
      I bet the professor cannot even remember what you are talking for he may have been toying with so many new schemes since.
      Leela

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      All of them are doing the dirty jobs for Maharaja Rajapaksa. So, no Buddhist monks available.

  • 0
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    Yoga Power
    Ducks have it in their feet ;)

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    And the govt mole Mr Alles funds & therefore now directs Sajith so no chance of truce as long as S is tied to the mole.The specific and current job description of Mr Alles is to keep UNP and thus oppostion destabilised.

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    Maybe a single body could be formed with broad representation against the impeachment and for removal of the executive presidiency. These two issues can unite the opposition, without reference to idealogies, policies or who should be the leader. Leadership of this movement could be from the clergy who have already commented on these two issues.

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    Kumar, you are talking about a united opposition at a time the opposition leader is going out of the way to antagonize even non-UNP opposition members. Of course he is getting back bellyful!You can rest assured that there would no strong opposition in the country as long as Ranil Wickremesinghe remains the opposition leader!

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    We see achievements of the Syrian opposition in full color daily in CNN, Al Jazeera and etc. It obvious that wretched Kumar is sad for our opposition here cannot do the same. So, he urge backstabbers, the fifth columnists and traitors to put up a united front to topple Rajapakse. What then Professor, eh; appoint Mr Pakiasothy the President of Sri Lanka and ask Yankee Doodle to shout cock-a-doodle-doo. No thank you.

    In my opinion, the UNP doesn’t need an unholy alliance with rejects and lepers and egotists to challenge the government. The day that the UNP has a patriotic leadership acceptable to majority voters, we will have a true Sri Lanka opposition that can challenge the government.
    Leela

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    “You can rest assured that there would no strong opposition in the country as long as Ranil Wickremesinghe remains the opposition leader!”
    – Saman Wijesiri

    Well,just brace yourselves – his “leadership” is going to be extended by a further 6 YEARS come the UNP Convention next month.

    MR will be well into his 3rd term by then- – and the UNP will have just 1 seat in Parliament ( provided RW gets more pref.votes than Weerawansa)!!

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    Kumar, you need to be more sharper than this. The experiences of Iraq, Libya and Syria should be closely analyzed and be made available to the common man to in Sinhalese and Tamil languages by UNP/JVP and the other so called “left” factions.

    Sri Lanka/Eelam Federation will not take the same path to the revolution as in Iraq/Libya/Syria.The inhabitants in this island have gone through many “political” experiences than the people in the above mentioned countries. So we have to tread carefully.

    We have to make sure that the people (like you and me) who fight for Sri Lanka/Eelam Revolution are not be seen as “Imperialist Conspirators”. At the same time, the deeds of the West in Iraq/Libya/Syria must be projected as progressive (like what you have done here)ones.

    As you know well, Revolution will be succesful not over dead bodies of Ranil,Mangala, Karu, Sajith,Somawansa, Fonseka,Mano,Bahu, Sirithunga, you and me, but over the bodies of the ordinary people in this countries. They are the people who should be made knowledgeable about the enlightened liberal west who , in the end are the only saviors of the revolution.

    True, Rajapaksas have been doing /are doing backroom deals with the west. But you know, the west has been playing this games for yonks.They are not squeaky clean either. We know that everyone knows that. Does it really matter ? No.Who cares ? All we are interested is getting rid of Rajapaksas and the rest will be taken care of later.

    We have also have to play the Rajapaksa game and be super good at it and beat him in his game.It is we who have to make use of the west for our advantage, coming up with correct formula for the Sri Lanka/Eelam Revolution and identifying/pointing out the forces and potential leaders who would do the hard yard first (protests, death fasts,long marches,handing over memorandums to UN and embassies,self-immolations,and you name it any variety of political stunts in the book). All the bickerings in the opposition at the moment is about who is going to do the hard yard first and how.

    Once that hard yard is done, you will see the emergence of the “true” leadership (Ox-bridge, Yale/Harvard educated sort of) who can fulfill the other tasks of the revolutions.

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