17 June, 2024


Janabalaya Kolombata: A Failed Popularity Stunt

By Ameer Ali

Dr. Ameer Ali

The Joint Opposition’s September 5th Janabalaya Kolombata, under the aegis of the Rajapaksa clan was nothing more than a popularity test, which failed miserably. JO has been trying to bring down the government from the time it achieved a landslide victory at the local council elections. In a short piece that I published in Colombo Telegraph on 13 February 2018, I said that, “Landslide Does Not Mean Endorsement of MR”. However, that victory no doubt raised high hopes among MR supporters within the SLFP-half of the ruling coalition, which prompted fifteen of its members cross over and sit with the opposition. This did not help MR even to oust the TNA leader, Mr. Sampanthan, as leader of the opposition. The government survived the turbulence and still limping towards finishing its full term of office. It is in this background that the Rajapakse clan organized JC with mercenary participants to test MR’s popularity.

All eye witness accounts confirm that the crowd was not in hundreds but tens of thousands and that too in lower digits. The test was a grand failure. Already there is finger pointing at the failure of the chief organizer, who is none other than MR’s son Namal. Who will be the organizer at the next Janabalaya is yet to be announced. While MR is ageing there is obviously an emerging struggle within the family regarding the possible successor.  The real drama is yet to unfold. One is reminded of the recent bloody struggle for succession in Nepal. 

One of the criticisms levelled by JO at the yahapalana rulers is that the country is currently descending towards dictatorship and that democracy is endangered. JO is also accusing the government for selling the country to foreigners. May we ask how democratic was MR regime when in power and what happened to those who spoke and wrote against that regime? May we also question which regime started giving the Chinese and Indians outright ownership or renewable long term leases over chunks of Sri Lanka’s commanding heights? Which regime started borrowing from foreigners recklessly and spent lavishly on projects that are now standing as white elephants? JO’s criticism of the current government on these issues is like pot calling the kettle black. 

There are two other emotive and dangerous issues on which JO is pointing its finger at the government: one is an accusation that the government is attempting to divide the country through a new constitution; and the other is that the regime is hounding the Buddhist monks for raising concerns about the nation’s security. These accusations are a signal that in its desperation to capture power JO will rekindle the anti-minority emotions of gullible Sinhala-Buddhists to create havoc and damage the tenuous ethno-religious equilibrium prevailing in the country. Such a move will deprive JO of any support from the minorities as happened to MR in 2015. 

The real vacuity in the JO campaign is the absence of any credible policy package to tackle the real issues facing the country. To start with, how is JO planning to bring down the rapidly rising cost of living, which is driving ordinary householders resort to extreme measures to make both ends meet? Secondly, how is it going to eradicate corruption, which is so endemic and cancerous that it kills any hope of achieving economic and administrative efficiency and social justice, besides adding to living cost? Where are its remedies to bring down a crippling national debt and achieve budget surplus?  How is it going to approach the issue of national reconciliation? Without convincing proposals to present JO cannot expect people to rally behind it just to oust the government.   

This does not mean that the yahapalana regime can continue with its lacklustre performance and expect to win the next election by default. The issues that face JO are also the ones confronting the government. None of the three factions vying for power, i.e., UNP, MS-SLFP and MR-SLFP appears to have any alternative to the ruling economic system. The problem therefore is systemic and it requires a fundamental shift. Let JO give up its popularity tamashas and start working seriously on a manifesto that would deliver a credible alternative. One cannot fool all the people all the time.      

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Latest comments

  • 6

    Contrary to what the author has stated, the failure of Janabalaya Kolambata was not the crowd as there had been a huge crowd based on internal Police accounts which they cannot publish or quote, but the inability to have focused on a single message. If the Yahapalanya government thinks this was a failure of the JO to muster a crowd, then they will do so at their peril. Testimony to the UNPs inability to muster a crowd was their holding their 72nd anniversery at Siri Kotha and not a place like even the Premadasa Indoor Stadium. The ineffectiveness and directionless of the government and its two leaders makes the JO look bigger than Ben Hur, when it is possibly not as big. Another point for the attention of the author, the JO is the effective Opposition whether they hold the position of Leader of the Opposition or not, as the current leader speaks only about Northern Tamil issues.

    • 11

      Total Outsider,

      Yes you are talking outside your a..s.
      JO member confirmed there was only 2500 at 9pm. What else proof do you want.
      Anyway Horunge rasthiyaduwa failed miserably and it is high time to go after the horu.

    • 10

      I have the feeling, you to call YAHAPALANA regime is wrong.

      Regime is what we had until 2015. TOday, even if President and PM would have been attacked by highly abusive terms, nothing seem to take up to stand against those men.

      Not a single men was attacked by LANKEN POLICE during the Jana balaya rally.
      That shows the levels of great services being offered to the people by the police.
      Most of them the participants were not that peaceful – had slogans of all low level sinhala bad words.
      But nothing stood against them.
      That proved DEMOCRACY is overflown to the people, but former goons make every effrot to rewrite it infavour of them.
      I dont think even if majority folks are stupid, would ever be easy to keep them as their own slaves for the next few months.
      Most I heard via voice cuts felt that they have been abused by Rajaakshes men.

      • 4

        You are right. The level of law and order is much much better than under Previous Mahinda regime. Mahinda group organised this march for primarily to capture power. It is very clear that Mahinda wanted that Namal should become the next President or Prime minister. He also wanted to send this message to his brothers Gotapaya anD Basil both are aiming for those posts. Absense of Basil and low level present of Gotapaya in this event that they are not happy with it. Howver, Mahinda group do want to accept or apologise for the mistakes they made during the period after 2009 on anti minority -propaganda, ant-democratic issues such as 18th amendment, action against military commander who contested against him, change of chief justice and white van abductions & murder of Journalists etc and particularly corruption. Tamil and Muslim people are not going to vote for them unless they are confident that they will have policy to gurantee their saftey. For most of the Sinhalese people, Cost of living is important but they want to know what policies they will introduce to increase the productivity or invest on beneficial industries that are not available now. Is it possible to have stability having anti-minority programme? The country has a massive unproductive armed forces. What are we going to do that? Is it possible to have a bad relationship with neighboring India and China and developing this country? Mahinda Group completely destroy themselves with this protest.

        • 3

          I think – the govt should have to reduce al l the high taxes from FOOD ITEMS.

          But they can increase them in Transport and pvt vehicle owners.

          Medicine related prices should be changed.

          Like in many countries, they have to rise high taxes for fuel and transport.

          And not to forget, those who do business shoudl be introdcued a tax system so that each and every retailed to whole sale business vendors need pay some taxes.

          Then we can overcome facing the LOANS that Ballige putha Rajakashe deliberately made to this nation. We also need to teach them that their way of taking loans should NOT have done. No respect should be given to the buggers anyfurther.
          Those MPs and Ministers and former men and women must not given that much funds allocations. These are highly wasteful:
          No more vehicles should be purchased.
          If some poor easter EUropean countries can survivie with their prevailing resources why we cant do so ?

      • 1

        “That proved DEMOCRACY is overflown to the people,”
        Democracy is overflowing but the economy is going down the drain. Ordinary folks cannot fill their stomachs with democracy.

        • 3

          Eagle Eye,

          I am not a party sympathiser, just an another SRILANKEN being out of the country make my comments.
          1. I know perfectly well Economy was not at its best at the time, GOONS got defeated the election. And their men themselves louded it as ” arthika gaathakayo”- economic high criminals:
          2. And they the former highly abusive bunch of thugs ENJOYED all grace periods of the huge loans so that people would also feel, ” RAJAPAKSHE IS DOING WELL WITH THE ECONOMY”.
          But bring me one single Example to prove – that they created NEW jobs and IMPROVED the income levels of average folks.
          If they at all added salary hikes – no
          3. If a stupid man of RAJAPAKSHE nature made all the higher decisions interms of taking huge loans on much higher interests – today, the entire folks incl unborn child have to face it.
          And taxation is the only income mean -a kind of lanken nature to collect the sums SINCE we are not oil rich nations

      • 1

        well said. The bu…. who ordered shooting at protester when MR was in power shamelessly came to the march to show his face and moved to Shangrila with in few minutes.

        MR sidelined BR and highjacked the project to boost his son, And the Goat forcebly poked in without invitation, BR vanished from the country. GL was helplessly nodinig his head to “Namal-the baby boss”. Even Dinesh who has been considered as a possible JO presidential candiadte by Dayan (who is now in M3 camp) who first prosed Goat as a candidate, was there listening to “baby boss” with fallen crest. This total flop was a good lesson for the ‘most experienced’ politician MR

    • 4

      Completely Outsider,
      Yes you are correct. There was a huge crowed according to your Internal Police accounts. Since you are an outsider may be you have no idea how big is the Lake House roundabout. People who know about the place knows the reality.
      Pachawansa and Rajapaksha goons now talking about milk packet to cover up their mess. How come protesters kept their milk packets until next day? Were they aware that those milk packets with some poisons? This is because “Ada da Rena” and “Kudu” TV gives wide publicity over the Milk packet matter.
      Why you worry about UNP’s 72nd anniversary? That is up to them to decide the venue. JO Organizers were under the impression that people will come to Colombo and participate in surrounding important places to challenge the Govt. They expected some death bodies to take around the country as investment in a future election. “Ada da Rena” and “Kudu Tv” cameras everywhere for this purpose. They failed miserably. Organizers never thought about facilities such as food, Water, Toilet facilities etc.for the supporters. Most of the Village People got the free ride to come to Colombo with Rs. 5000 Pocket money. They came to Colombo for a change and gone. It is simply like that.
      Next time advise your so called leaders to be with the people instead of staying in 7 Star Hotels. Also you explain 5 valid points to call the supporters to Colombo to surround the Important Places.
      “Moda Mee harakek Muu, Anna araheta wela hitapan” – Mahinda Rajapaksha, Rajapaksha nikaya, Madamulana Chapter, Mam Pora Jathakaya, Horunge Rasthiyaduwa Katha Wasthuwa.

    • 3

      Ameer Ali,

      RE: Janabalaya Kolombata: A Failed Popularity Stunt

      “The Joint Opposition’s September 5th Janabalaya Kolombata, under the aegis of the Rajapaksa clan was nothing more than a popularity test, which failed miserably.”

      Actually, it was coming out party for Namal Rajaapaksa, to be groomed as a viable Presidential candidate, and to intimidate those who want to prosecute them for their crimes. It failed miserably and many “Baiyyos” got stoned.

      From the vine news, bbulath news and vettila news….

      The so called ‘Jana bala’ protest staged on September 5 th by the corrupt and crooked Rajapkse family with a view to ‘baptize’ Namal Rajapkse as the future leader , as well as to frighten the judges who are hearing the cases against the countless rogues including the Rajapakses of the corrupt Rajapakses’ nefarious decade turned out to be a damp squib.

      It was very evident the entire protest was dictated by the internal issues of the Rajapakses and their politicians . The focus was not on resolving the issues of the people. There was absolutely nothing creative nor inspiring with no attention paid in that direction.

      The number of newly registered youth voters is said to be 1.7 million. Though Namal claims himself as a youth , it is a pity he could not rope in a single youth of this group for his protest . Those who participated were the usual pro Rajapakse lackeys and lickspittles.

      90 % of the participants were evidently drunk to the brim. They only smelled of arrack not patriotism. When various individuals of the independent social media tried to get ‘ voice cut’ every one of them responded every time with ‘cut voice’ liquor influence. They were so drunk they were almost on all fours .

  • 3

    Are our “Analysts” on the correct track in the analyses of the “Janabalaya Kolambata”? In my opinion, they are NOT. Why? We speak of the “Numbers”; “Poor Organization”; “Casualties”; “Failures”; Successes” of the “Architects”; BUT completely IGNORE the COMPOSITE of the “Janabalaya”. The “Architects” and the “Pillars” are well known for what those have stood and standing for, and accepted that those have to be pulled down. But, have our attention drawn to the base – the “Foundation” that those have been “erected”? No. That foundation or the base is none other than these “Numbers” that are “HERDED” from place to place. Already the organizers have announced the next place is Kandy. Sorry to say, this “HERD” is the most “GULLIBLE” who are ill-fated and ill-informed segment of the voting population of the country. What have we done to repair this “Foundation” and “Fortify” it with strength and vigor to pull down those “ROTTEN PILLARS” and replace those with Credible, Strong and Honorable pillars that can lead to a long standing house of pleasures? If at least, this “Yahapalanaya” took meaningful steps to pull these “Pillars” one by one, this country would have already felt the “Restructuring” is taking place and possible to do it. That negligence created this “Gullible” slaves and the “Slave Drivers” have taken the lead in the race for power. The examples of that NEGLIGENCE are very many and too many to be listed in a comment form. Just ONE: Where and What happened to 15 concluded reports of the PRECIFAC that investigated into “Serious Acts Of Fraud, Corruption and Abuse Of Power”? According to the findings, most and very many of these “Slave Drivers” (the organizers of these “Jana Balaya”) are NAMED and DIRECTED to be prosecuted. Are those “FINDINGS” brought at all to the Public Domain? So no wonder the “Ill-Fated” and “Ill-Informed” are made “Gullible” and allowed to be “Slaves”. That is the most serious and unpardonable “SIN” that this “Yahapalanaya” has committed.

  • 2

    When a protest is peaceful, not disruptive to the rest of the community, not yelling and screaming bloody murder Ali calls is it a flop. What did you want man? People killed? Police shooting? Riot Police? Army mobilized? JO and Mahinda are not fools, and they will not walk into a trap like that.

    • 2


      Nawaz sherif Pakistan and Mubarak Egyptian past president wanted are not fools but outside final attempt to force step down.

      How did the Present president who was with MR the president of UNP.

  • 1

    People refuse to accept even the 2015 arab spring was a protest vote. So will be the 2019 election. It is not becuse that either group consist of world leaders. All the henchmen, honchos, card holding members write a different comment.

  • 0

    Ameer Ali contends that Janabalaya Kolombata was a ‘Failed Popularity Stunt’? Was it really?
    The attendance impressed the potential voters and what more? The attendees never asked (or will ask) who spent all that money and where it came from. There was no violence. Why? Because Lokkas were there.
    The PCoI is releasing unconscionable culture of corruption/nepotism/impunity in Sri Lankan Airlines. The cost of living is high. Health and education is suffering. The attendees have been persuaded that all this happened from 08 January 2015 onwards. They have been persuaded that the bond issue is the ONLY scam ever. The JO has been projected as angels.
    SLPP has demonstrated at the recent LG elections that the real danger to Lanka are the minorities.
    SLPP can be entrusted with the task as to how to permanently keep the second class status of citizenship through the religion/language-divide.
    Sorry Ameer, it was not a failed stunt/thamasha.
    There will be more of this. Watch this space.

  • 0


    Nawaz sherif Pakistan and Mubarak Egyptian past president wanted POWER THEY are not fools but outside final attempt to force step down.

    How did the Present president who was with MR the president of UNP.

  • 1

    Thambis are lying against Rajapakse because he didn’t let them rule They gave spoilt milk to people who came for Janabalaya. They don’t like rajapakse because he didn’t let them take over Dharga Town and Aluthgama. Go Rajapakse family, more power and energy to you.

    • 1


      You should be corrected – not to call them Thambis. Why ? I dont want you guys calling own minority folks that way.

      Secondly, the alleged criminal acts have not yet been proved by anyone.

      That is someting to rabblerouse the nation – the kind of tactics being played by most visious WIMALASIRI GAMLATH… on an don.
      His mouth should be exploded if nothing would come out by the ongoing investigations. This bugger Wimalasirisa gamalar or Weerawanse is a person even more dangerous than to an IBOLA virus to AFRICA.
      He shoudl be hung by his balls if allegations would not be right.
      Alone rabble rousing the nation that way is a crimnal act:
      He the former street monger woudl not see twice but go for it. He would never foresee the harm being done by his evasive rhetorics.

  • 0

    I was on the way to the airport to catch the flight to London on the 5th early in the morning, seen several drunks on the road drinking the stuff out of a 18 seater van. They had some rolled up flags, thought they were on the way to see a match.

  • 0

    Arab Spring set middle east on fire and it is still burning. MR knows better, it is the UNP who was shaking in the boots. MR has instructed to the protest organizers that no protest is worth widespread destruction and instability. Any disruption would have give the GOSL to attack the protesters in the name of peace and some in the GOSL is disappointed that could not be done, just like the author.

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