Colombo Telegraph

Emergence Of Sinhala Chauvinism At The Top Layer Of The Ruling Elite

By Vickramabahu Karunaratne –

Dr. Vickramabahu Karunaratne

The campaign started by those who are very close to the President, to remove the 13th amendment, shows that Constitution making process in the coming period could become arbitrary and carried out at the whims and fancies of the chauvinist elements within the regime. If it really takes place, this will go into history as yet another effort to cater to the popular majoritarian impulses in Lanka. As all powerful Defence Secretary Gotabhaya Rajapaksa called for the abrogation of the 13th Amendment and the chauvinists JHU and pseudo nationalistic Wimal Weerawansa’s NFF jumped the bandwagon, there were fears that the political leadership in the country was to indulge in another crazy attempt to change the supreme law of the land. Of course the remarks by Keheliya Rambukwella that the government does not have plans to abrogate the 13th Amendment for the ‘time being ‘ change the mood. As Trotsky pointed out in the permanent revolution thesis, the bourgeoisie leaders who ruled Lanka too, failed to improve on the semblance of liberal democracy left behind by the British. It is this inability of local capitalists that compels the proletarian movement to intervene to carry out the tasks of democratic reorganization of the society. The 13th amendment came with a strong intervention of the left movement in this country. In the course of that struggle left parties lost nearly thousand national and local leaders including Vijaya , Vimala sena, Panditha and Chandra Vimala.

It is claimed that the provincial council system established under the 13th Amendment itself turned out to be a white elephant. In particular the short-lived Northern Provincial Council collapsed and there after no government were able hold elections there. So the people, for whom the devolution on nationality basis was proposed, are virtually shut out from the system. At the same time, the incomplete provincial council system in the south, turned out to be a white elephant.

However, the failure of the 13th Amendment should primarily be attributed to the dislike of the Central government to devolve powers to the existing provincial councils. This problem has been discussed extensively since the time of Chandrika, and LLRC has indicated in detail the nature of the improvement that could satisfy the Tamil people. In short the solution to the current deficiencies of the 13th Amendment lies in strengthening the power sharing structure stipulated by the amendment.

However, the willingness on the part of the current regime to share power with national minorities is most important. Clearly Mahinda regime has failed even to initiate a truly national dialogue to seek a political solution. Hence the Tamil leaders question the genuineness on the part of the government.  Set against latter’s rush to enact the 18th Amendment, which dismantled all salient achievements of the 17th Amendment, no one can blame the Tamil leaders for their mistrust. On the other hand the inability of the government to seek a political solution is glaring. Inspite of populist acts made to show their loyalty to the voice of the oppressed,

Mahinda regime’s steady march towards

authoritarianism cannot be hidden. All attempts to change the constitution, except the 13th amendment, can be proved to be reactionary.  This includes the republican constitution of comrade Colvin. Unfortunately he was a prisoner of a bourgeoisie government dominated by majoritism.  He claimed that the parliament as the representative of the people was empowered by his constitution. But it was passed by an assembly without the Tamil leaders. Hence it inherited majoritism by birth. As many pointed out the tampering with the Constitution in this manner began by D.S. Senanayake who disenfranchised the Tamils of Indian origin under the Citizenship Act. The true intention of DS was to manipulate the electorate and eliminate an electoral challenge emanating from the Lanka Sama Samaja Party (LSSP) and the Communist Party. “Liberal” leaders have failed to go beyond the chauvinist limitations created by themselves. They have come to an apex in this process with the creation of Mahinda regime. It is based on the ideology of patriotic war to establish a unitary constitution. War was interpreted as a patriotic war against an international conspiracy conducted by an alien power, probably western based, to take over Lanka. Having defeated the alien force the government is, step by step removing all remaining tentacles of the alien power. One of the most important shackles left behind by the conspirators is the 13th amendment! Accordingly the campaign for the removal of 13th amendment is a continuation of the war in the domain of politics. This is the story of the chauvinists.

What is going to happen? This is the question raised by concerned people. They are surprised to see the emergence of Sinhala chauvinism at the top layer of the ruling elite. However it is still at the apex and there is no corresponding mass activity at the bottom. At the bottom we see the campaigns of workers, fishers, peasants and students demanding higher payments and better wages. These mostly led by left leaders who support devolution as a way out to the national problem. Thus, one can say safely that if the conflict flows over to the streets, this time chauvinists will be defeated.

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