By Upali Gajanayake –
In the late sixties, the political tool used by the Janata Vimukthi Peramuna (JVP) to position itself among certain youth sections was their famous series of sermons consisting of five classes(පන්ති පහ).Certainly, ‘Indian expansionism’ was the most compelling discourse among the five classes as they were active among the rural Sinhalese population.
The first of the famous five classes of the Janata Vimukthi Peramuna was ‘Economic crisis in Sri Lanka’ and the second class was ‘Indian expansionism’.
The Janata Vimukthi Peramuna presented several factors in the speech titled ‘Indian expansionism’ and created a great fear regarding an ongoing threat from India to Sri Lanka. They started with the fear that India’s geographical proximity to Ceylon was an eternal danger. Some cadres of Janata Vimukthi Peramuna impressed upon the minds of the Sinhalese youth that there is a serious threat of swallowing Sri Lanka at any moment by India, which is located 20 miles or a few more miles away, even using maps of the subcontinent.
There was also a practical environment that the Janata Vimukthi Peramuna could use to impress their analysis into young hearts. One of them is the illegal smuggling called ‘Kallathoni Uvadura’. Even a weak boat was enough to travel between the northern sea of Sri Lanka and Dhanush Kodi in an hour. The illegal smugglers were not only engaged in smuggling contraband between the two countries through the narrow strait, but there was also a habit of young movie lovers from Jaffna going to Madras at night to watch Tamil movies and returning in same night.
Another serious matter was the way in which the Janata Vimukthi Peramuna interpreted the topic of Tamil plantation workers of Indian origin living in Sri Lanka. According to their analysis, the Tamil plantation workers of Indian origin are a privileged segment compared to the Sinhalese workers in Colombo.
‘’A saviour for the Tamil workers in hill country holds the post of Chief Minister of Tamil Nadu. He is MG Ramachandran. The hero of Tamil Nadu Tamil cinema who was born in a tea estate in Ceylon.
Ramachandran’s picture hangs in the line rooms of plantation workers in Sri Lanka receiving offerings’’ JVP analysed in their lectures.
Trends after 1983
The Janata Vimukti Peramuna propagated the above-mentioned ideology from the mid-1960s onwards.
In fact, within a period of less than twenty years, not only the Janata Vimukthi Peramuna but also many national groups close to their ideology could find several incidents that help to prove that India’s position is dangerous when it comes to Sri Lanka. One of those incidents was during the administration of Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi, when the Sri Lankan airstrip was violated by dropping goods from the air to the northern province of Sri Lanka. Secondly, after the Indo-Lankan accord an Indian army was stationed on the territory of Sri Lanka. Thirdly, under the influence of India, the Jayewardene government had to constitutionalize the 13th amendment by uniting the North-Eastern provinces.
The argument of the majority of Sinhalese nationalists in Sri Lanka is that India is conquering the areas around them. Dr. Nalin de Silva, a well-known Sinhala nationalist presented as an example to justify his opinion the addition of the state of Sikkim to the central government of India. “If Rev. S. Mahinda, a famous poet who lived in Sri Lanka, had migrated to Sri Lanka after 1948, he would not have been called Mahinda of Sikkim but ‘Mahinda of India,” said Dr. Silva glorifying the nationalist ideology. And it was a perfect fuel to rekindle the anti-government struggle against the Indu-Sri Lankan accord and proposed provincial council system. The Janata Vimukti Peramuna was the main operator of the anti-Indian protest in 1986-87.
With the Jayewardene regime calling Indian troops to Sri Lanka under the Indo-Lanka accord, the Janata Vimukthi Peramuna re-sharpened their once-hidden old political weapon, the analysis of Indian expansionism. At that time, the anti-India movement of the Janata Vimukti Peramuna was implemented in a violent manner. Those loyal to the Indo-Lanka accord and the provincial council system were killed. Is that all? selling and consuming with imported Indian lentils and Bombay onions were declared punishable offences.
Let’s leave the past to the past
So far we have been reminded of JVP’s indelible past behaviour. But according to the law of nature, many things change with time. That theory applies especially to active political organizations. We have heard that Angulimala, who killed nine hundred and ninety-nine people, cut off their fingers and braided them into a necklace, became a great arahant. Judas is sorry for betraying Christ.
Politically my suggestion is that the JVP’s clear difference between their manifesto and practical political activities should not be used to humiliate them. Do not those changes showing that they have understand that there is no moving forward in the old party theoretical box?
But all the critics, from Weerawansa to Namal Rajapaksa deliberately ignore the JVP’s theoretical transformation and display their political hypocrisy.
In the statement issued by Wimal Weerawansa’s (MP) media unit it has been mentioned as follows regarding Anura kumara Dissanayake‘s visit to India.
“The political party (JVP) that taught Sri Lanka “Indian expansionism” is silent today, because they are also strong members of the Indian process of taking over Sri Lanka. It is India’s desire to use the intense economic crisis in Sri Lanka today, sign the ETKA Agreement, and spread Indian domination economically and politically. That is why the people who taught Sri Lanka about ‘Indian expansionism’ are keeping their mouths shut today”.
Meanwhile, quoting Namal Rajapaksa’s (MP) statement, a newspaper reports:
“The Janata Vimukti Peramuna implemented a strict anti-India policy in the past. But now Anura Kumara is going to India to negotiate. Sri Lanka lost a large amount of investment from India because of Janata Vimukthi Peramuna. The Sampur power plant is the best example of that”.
The identification of JVP in Sri Lankan politics should be done under a special understanding. Look at their analysis about the parliament system before the April uprising of 1971. They interpreted the parliament as a capitalist den that should never set foot, but after the April uprising(1971) was defeated and imprisoned, they changed their strategy to use the parliament as a platform.
Lionel Bopage and Upatissa Gamanayake, two well-known secretaries of the Janatha Vimukti Peramuna contested the parliamentary elections with the blessing of the founder of the party, Rohana Wijeweera. The leader himself contested the 1982 presidential election.
Vimal Weerawansa, who criticizes the visit of AKD-led JVP representatives to India, has worked as a member of the West Provincial Assembly, which was formed under Indian intervention.
According to my understanding, the Janata Vimukthi Peramuna itself should not be concerned about the kind of adversarial criticism mentioned above. They have two main areas to consider. The first of which is to identify the new world economic pattern by going beyond the limits of traditional left economic analysis. The second is to enter into a real permanent and practical solution to the ethnic problem in Sri Lanka.
The question before them is whether it is possible to recover Sri Lanka from the current economic crisis only by displaying Rohana Wijeweera’s picture together with the pictures of Karl Marx, Engels and Lenin. China and Vietnam have achieved economic development not by being stuck in the red flag, but by understanding new economic strategies in the global economic pattern. The way Vietnam is dealing with America, which dropped bombs on its own head, provides a lesson to the Janata Vimukthi Peramuna. If such an understanding is followed, it will create a comfortable environment for the Janata Vimukthi Peramuna in terms of entering into many economic agreements with India, not just a visit.
Their new formation may be demonstrated by the accepting of a visit to India.
A strong signal
Politically in India, this invitation has been given not to the Janata Vimukthi Peramuna(JVP) Currently, the Janata Vimukthi Peramuna is appearing with their main political alliance, the Jathika Jana Balawegaya (NPP). The Delhi authorities have not yet announced the reason for inviting the Jathika Jana Balawegaya(NPP) for a visit to their country. This invitation is made in an environment where reports are being published that according to public opinion polls, the Jathika Jana Balawegaya is the leading political force in Sri Lanka.
However, India’s invitation to the political force, known as the third force until recently, has given a strong signal.