26 May, 2022

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Forcing The NPP Into Invisibility By Pushing It Into The JVP: A Response To Dayan Jayatilleka

By Nandaka Maduranga Kalugampitiya

Dr. Nandaka Kalugampitiya

In his recent article “Red Viyathmaga: Can the JVP’s 2022 Game-Plan Succeed?” published on Colombo Telegraph (December 27, 2021), Dr. Dayan Jayatilleka (DJ) presents two propositions and says that the JVP’s success depends primarily on which of those two “the majority of the country’s citizens believe.” Proposition A goes as follows: “Though it could have done much better, Sri Lanka has done fairly well and better than many developing countries, for most of its life as an independent state. With all the ups and downs things were reasonably alright for the most part, until the present, aberrant administration of President Gotabaya Rajapaksa, an aberrance best evidenced by the unprecedented, irrational policy on fertilizer which is ruining the agrarian sector.” Proposition B reads: “The country has not experienced any real progress since 1948. The Open Economy was a mistake and has run its course. Provincial-level devolution of power is no solution to the problems of the Tamil people which can be ensured not by autonomy but by equal rights, non-discrimination and a different economic model. The two main democratic political parties/blocs have failed the people. The system is rotten and must be replaced by a new, different one. The SJB is the UNP in a mask or is a ‘shell company’ for UNP policies and is therefore an organic part of the two blocs of old traditional, conventional parties. Both these blocs, the SLPP-SLFP and the SJB must be rejected and cannot be partners in the push for a new Sri Lanka. [T]he JVP and its ally the NFF is the sole possessor of the solution and is the sole solution.”

DJ’s article, which no doubt offers a number of important insights into certain aspects of the present political situation in the country, presents the two propositions as self-evident ones. However, the article contains a few indicators that point to the subtext of the article, which calls into question the self-evident nature of those propositions. (DJ says, “The case for Proposition A is not self-evident,” but the proposition itself has been presented as a self-evident one.) Firstly, the term NPP appears only once in the entire article, which contrasts with the 21 times the term JVP appears in the same. At least 17 of those 21 mentions could easily have been replaced with ‘NPP’. Even the single mention of ‘NPP’ is tagged to ‘JVP’ in a manner that suggests the former is nothing but an extension of the latter. There is another reference in the article to the NPP, but the term used is JJB, which is the abbreviation of the Sinhala name of what NPP stands for. In a context where ‘NPP’ is the name by which the movement is widely being identified and gaining traction, and also the abbreviation ‘JJB’ is not really a term in the present political discourse, DJ’s reluctance to use the term ‘NPP’ indicates his tendency to position the movement in question in a manner that pays no heed to how the movement positions itself and also the new political identity that is emerging in society. How could one expect a fair and reasonable assessment of the NPP in the context of this act of denial? (Let me add that much has been said in the field of language studies about how ‘a rose by any other name is NOT a rose.’)

Secondly, having presented the two propositions, DJ says what could bring about change is “not an untested third party” but “a new mainstream party, with a new leader and a new ideology”. It’s clear that the ‘untested third party’ is the NPP, or as DJ would like to have it, the JVP. DJ lumps ‘JVP’ with UNP, SLPP, and also ‘GR’, where he says that the new mainstream party, which could bring change, is none of those. Yes, the JVP (to use DJ’s terminology) is ‘untested’ as a ruling party. I remember how the UNP got Anura Bandaranaike to go on television in the final days leading up to the Presidential Election of 1994 and make the argument that Chandrika Kumaratunga should not be elected president on grounds that she was ‘untested’ and without experience. And I have read that the same argument was used against Sirimavo Bandaranaike when she entered politics following the assassination of her husband. Sirimavo Bandaranaike and Chandrika Kumaratunga may not fit the ideal leader image that many of us have in mind, but whether they fell significantly short of expectations compared to their counterparts with experience and also whether their failures could necessarily be attributed to their lack of experience are questions that are worth being asked. One could say that those cases are different from the NPP example in that although those two leaders were new to politics at the time they entered politics, they had experienced teams to help them—teams that had been part of governments—which is not the case with the NPP. This argument would have made sense had the reputation of the teams concerned been a positive one. I don’t think there’s any doubt in the minds not only of those who reject the mainstream parties but also those who still believe in those parties that the mainstream parties have fallen short of expectations, if not failed miserably, but still we somehow think that they are the way forward? We still believe in those parties to the point we do not want to give a new team a chance? At the same time, the world has seen numerous leaders who were relatively new to politics but who did well, but they somehow go unnoticed? The lack-of-experience argument overlooks the increasing tendency of professionals from various fields gathering around the new movement, but one would of course not notice it in a context of the very existence of the NPP is ignored.

Thirdly, on a more substantive level, Proposition B, which has been identified as the one that people need to be on the side of in order for the ‘JVP’ to become successful in 2022, indicates a complete break from the existing system. It mentions ‘a new economic model’. In the context of the existing discourse on the JVP, the idea of a shift to a new economic model immediately makes one think of a shift as drastic and fundamental as from capitalism to socialism or even communism. Needless to say that the idea of such a shift generates numerous insecurities in the minds of the people, particularly of the expanding middle class. Interestingly, there is one key concept which one often hears being talked about on the NPP platform but which DJ conveniently ignores, and that is corruption. If there is one topic that the NPP leadership has repeatedly drawn the attention of the public to that is corruption. The NPP has made it clear that minimizing, if not eradicating, corruption is the necessary first step towards a lasting solution to the economic crisis and also many other crises. Now, one does not need to jump from capitalism to socialism to stop corruption. It is something that can be done within capitalism itself. In fact, as Sunil Handunneththi and a few other NPP leaders have pointed out in recent television and youtube interviews, corruption is a burden on capitalism and the eradication of corruption is a necessary precondition for capitalism to reach its goals. The NPP is talking about a system where the funds saved through the eradication of corruption is channeled into development projects and social security programmes. They have also identified the eradication of corruption as an important way of encouraging private sector investment. The point is if there’s one system that stands to benefit from the eradication of corruption that is capitalism. When the situation is such, to continue to harp on the stale claim that the JVP, and by association the NPP, are all about this leap from capitalism to [demonized] socialism makes little sense. It should also be kept in mind that out of all the parties and movements of a national standing, the NPP is the only party/movement that can speak against corruption with credibility. In such a context, the absence of any reference in DJ’s article to the current discourse on corruption is worrying.

Fourthly, and finally (for the present article), DJ implies that a general strike, something like the ‘Harthaal’ of 1953, is an inevitable part of the JVP’s ascension to power. He also implies that such an approach would create a space in which a military intervention “to restore order” would be justified. It is a fact that the NPP, or the JVP, has not called a general strike in the country, nor have they even discussed it as a serious possibility on their platform. The only opposition party, which got people to take to streets against the government after the idea of regime change began to appear as a possibility, was the SJB, the very party that DJ appears to be making a case for. In fact, the NPP was criticized for not joining hands with the SJB in organizing the protests. It is true that the JVP has traditionally been associated with general strikes, but in a context where such a move has not been proposed, I’m not sure how fair it is to brand the NPP-ers as ‘Harthaalists’.

The NPP is an undeniable fact in the current political scene, and let’s treat it as such.

*The author is a Senior Lecturer attached to the University of Peradeniya

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Latest comments

  • 4
    3

    NPP/JVP is not going anywhere. SJB/UNP must form a difficult alliance with it to gain power. Otherwise the next SJB/UNP government will be a weak one without parliamentary majority.

    DJ is a member of the SJB so his views are tied to SJB politics.

    • 9
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      No, this is not a solution to anything but another 2015 where one dumps all other considerations other than “get rid of the Rajapakses”. It didn’t work then, and it won’t work now. Utter waste, and the NPP should never agree to this. If they do, what credibility they have will be demolished.

      No more propping up corrupt incompetents. Either the SJB has to stand up and form a government of its own, or stand aside and let the NPP form one of its own. Given the anemic, disorganized and same old same old tactics of the SJB, it’s a miracle anyone thinks they’re even a viable alternative. Utter twaddle.

  • 5
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    Thanks for this well constructed critical analysis of a previous article by DJ. It shows that words can be used to construct a different reality to the one we can observe on ground or in reality. Moreover, words can be used to confuse the people too. A linguistic/discourse analysis provides a good approach to analyse the way an author has used language to represent/misrepresent the potision of the NPP. No doubt that Such analysis creates a credibility gap for the author.

  • 7
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    JVP will win next election

    • 2
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      Jack

      “JVP will win next election”

      Will there be any elections in the future?
      Will there be any opposition?

  • 3
    2

    Thero is taking Ranil on a long way. He, at the start, wanted to wedge between the Old King and the Hitler King, expecting a good position from the Old King. Later, 20A wiped out the Old King’ authority because Hitler took away all the power of the PM position which was secured by Ranil for him through 19A. Thero thought Old Rowdy was no longer Vijaya’s prodigy, a wild beast(lion). So, he switched his loyalty to Valaiththodam Jr, aiming many birds with one stone. First, he wants back his Champaign job or Vodka job, which are one two bis favorites. Another one is that Ranil has to be crushed to the ground urgently, because Ranil was trying to use the Old King to gain a position in the Royal Government. Ranil has already said if it were a National Government he would come as the Prime Minister. To make this possible, Hitler wanted to put Mr. 40% as the PM so the switching will be easy, when a National Government is formed. Hitler has promised to Sumanthiran that the India is not needed; he would give Sumanthiran a Paper Boy Ministry and 13A+ for TNA, which are the two original promises given to them by the Ranil’s Yahapalanaya (So, that promise may not face trouble in election, because UNP has said that already).

  • 0
    4

    Old King was fearing, by this arrangement, the government’s dynastic leadership may slip away from his family and his title “Dutugemunu the Tamils Slayer” would be revoked if he was not even holding a PM job, at this crucial time. He knows how he handled Ponny in his turn. So, Old Rowdy refused to move out. Thero was, naturally, wouldn’t be too happy if the things had moved that way. Because Now CBK and others are out on the road. New King wants to reshape SLFP. NPP trying to cover the third corner. These can be very detrimental for Valaiththodam’s prospects in 2024.In NPP, other than JVP, all others are worthless hard-core communist. There is no way he can try them to UNP No2. Anura is the Scotland, England Muthalali, masqueraded as the Lankawe Tholilali. If Thero cuts off Anura Muthalali from NPP & attach to Valaiththodam that can turn out to be a Japan & Germany partnership and would take care of itself and free Thero’s rest of the time. Then he can put his one leg over the other leg and watch on the bombs firing allover everywhere in Langkang. But Anura is “Verum Chappi ”, overly promoted opportunistic communists.

  • 0
    4

    Thero knows that well, but that is what he wants – an Ideal rooster to willingly take the knock by the hen. (Not to give the same trouble the Joint Comedy Club gave to Ranil and forced the split of Yahapalanaya). Readers may remember Anura was supporting Yahapalanaya from the opposition in the last government just like Sampanthan Aiyya & his MPs. But the sad part here is, after getting fried in the pan, even the 6.9M Modayas will not agree to fall in the fire. When Hitler job is done with his job, Sinhala Buddhist may be willing to give at least the PM job to Chandrika, so she can import some rice from the Moon, at least. Thero was preparing by this wish, only to get him back to Kanathai and was whipped by Hitler King for Thero’s tricky-nasty- abusive campaign against him, but Valaiththodam had no way of ascending to EP position. If King Maker CBK wishes, she would forge a partnership with Ranil and put him there. These, if become reality, can put the Cat- Mouse political war at a temporary trues in Langkang, but the commodity lines war will not easily vanish anytime sooner. Mr. Clean did not do anything in the previous 5 years.

  • 0
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    He paid a $280M fine on Colombo Pong Cing, but no tangible protection was secured for that Land. Paid another $15M fine for Pahadu Tower, but it is lost forever. Hangbangtota harbor and 5 villages are gone for 200 years- or forever. There is no way the Dragon lets these go without it swallowing. Ranil only fought with the West, the colonial master of his previous birth; but he could not save the Old King from the UNHRC. Neither got an IMF help large enough to rebuy the Hangbangtota Harbor. For all those achievements, Anura was sitting next to Sampanthan Aiyya in the opposition and supporting UNP No1’s government. So, Anura is a safe politician to be attached to Valaiththodam Jr. Other than playing this game, Thero was not trying to analyze any politics in that essay. He opposes Dudley and CBK, but he was with Varathar, with Valaiththodam Sr., with Old Rowdy, with Aappa eating White Flag Murderer, He was with every, nasty traitors, but never was real Marxist in economy or never was a true Castroist, in communism. All these Grinches and wolves, with the name of saving Langkang from the hand of Military Junta team of Hitler, are already on their plan of feeding on Christmas, even though there is two more years for that.
    Viva Langkang!

  • 5
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    It is no secret that NPP is gaining grounds as an alternative and the only option now available to make a “CHANGE”. Also, the people have realized that all the “Humpty, Dumpty” fall apart were mainly due to “Corruption”, “Waste” and “Mismanagement”. That picture was vividly shown in the “Bond Scam”, the “Coupe” of MY3 in October 2018, the “Easter Attack”, the “Pawning of National Resources” (Hambantota Port, etc) during “Yahapalanaya” a “Havula of UNP/SLFP” of which all the present-day SJB Parliamentarians, including Sajith P, (DJ’s client) were the Cabinet Ministers’ who contributed to those disastrous moments in S/L. The present-day “Pohottuwa” of SLPP is no equal but a “SUPERSTAR” in the field of corruption and mismanagement of National Assets. Simply put, it has “RUINED” the country of what remained after “Yahapalanaya” and the lives of the people. Can DJ or anyone contest/challenge that understanding of the people except those who want to tread the same path like SJP, SLPP, and SLFP together with their respective “Coharts” of “Intellectuals” and “Corporate Entities”? All these “Reactionary Forces” named above know it well and that is the very reason to campaign against that “Emerging” new alternative NPP that the people are wanting.

    • 2
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      Mainstream partiers that came into being at the time of independence with elite,English educaed leadership from well to do families have run their course. They have been taken over by the professional politicians who are there to make a living and become pseudo elites. Society and its problems have changed in the ensuing decades. The new conditions require new formation of political force that is not affiliated with the old and new elites(professional politicians whjo are there for their own benefit) but that understands the predicament of the whole country and the vala that the leaders have dug for everyone. How long can we live as a country on foreign loans/borrowed money? Isn’t it time to open the eyes wide to the impending calamity? Emerging parties have to go for a small target policy where they try to expand their popularity and appeal among various strata of society and capture a significant number of seats in the next elections so that no other party can form a government without their support. That will an opportunity for the new politivcal force to negotiate the terms of forming a coalition e.g. number of ministries, policy positions,programs etc. On the other hand,if the new political formation wants to establish its own government, it can end up being a pipe dream or a one day wonder!

  • 4
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    Continued… This newly emerged (starting from 2019 elections) NPP has come out with a “Policy Plan” of 13 points titled “OUR APPROACH” and a “Rapid Response” plan. This plan clearly spells out the “Economic” structure of the “Public/Private” partnership to provide opportunities for every citizen to participate in the collective task of building the public and private sectors. Also, it pledges to establish a “Strong Entrepreneurial Structure” sans “Corruptions of all sorts” in the economy. These are some of the MAJOR deviations of the “Policy” framework from that of conceptual (Marxist/Samajawadi) criticism leveled against JVP. In that respect, JVP has changed its stand on “Economic Structure” and could very well be relied on eradication of all sorts of corruption.

    Next, the most important “Policy Plan” of NPP is to make an overhaul change in the “Political Culture” of the country. This is a MUST and needs to be PRIORITIZED if all other policies and action plans are to be successful. More than anything else, this “CHANGE” is the most “HATED” by all these traditional political parties (UNP, SJB, SLFP, and all other COMMUNAL and SECRATARIAN outfits) Do they or their “Coharts” speak of it? NO. Then ask yourself “WHY”? The PEOPLE have asked this and that is why they have turned to this NEW political outfit called NPP. Let “DJ” and the likes get the “MESSAGE” clear.

  • 4
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    Whatever the alliances that parties made thus far, each alliance has been identified with the dominant party be it in power or not.
    The TNA, TULF etc have been seen by the public as the FP in effect.
    That applied to all SLFP alliances since the UF in 1970 and UNP alliances since the hathhavula of 1965.
    The JVP is the leading force of the NPP; and the NPP will be judged based on the JVP.
    JVP cannot wipe away its past without coming to terms with it in public.
    *
    As for DJ’s advice, his advise is based on what is good for the horse that he is backing.

  • 0
    0

    SJ: On several occasions (TV and other social media) AKD was asked about this “Past” of JVP. He has on all those discussions said: “Yes, we have revisited our past and admit the “Mistakes” committed and regret” but yes, stopped at saying “Sorry”. I think what you want to hear is the word “Sorry”. I am “OK” with that explanation.

    I too had my great concerns with JVP because I was also a “Victim” and “Suffered” immensely up to the end of 1989. I have resolved now to bring some “Sanity” and “Re-Invent” S/L on a new foundation especially with a NEW CULTURE (sans corruption, plundering the resources, waste, mismanagement) in Politic under the umbrella of NPP. I speak with personal experience of already “Excused” past but resolved to make the present and future better for all.

    • 0
      0

      The JVP cannot get away with a “sorry”.
      When a political party revisits its past there is an outcome that explains what went wrong and why, as well as a declaration of such mistakes will be avoided in the future.
      *
      Simon, if you are happy with what you find please yourself, but people with understandable suspicions need more than a casual ‘sorry mate’.

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