By Vishwamithra1984 –
“Hypocrisy is the homage vice pays to virtue.” ~Francois de La Rochefoucauld
Jathika Hela Urumaya seems to have awakened from their deep slumber. All of a sudden they seem to perceive only the negatives of the incumbent regime of which they are still an integral part. For eleven long years, they have been inside a regime that has been wasting the country’ treasures like drunkard sailors. At election after election they, the JHU, paraded on the United People’s Freedom Front platform; they asked the people to cast their votes for the continuation of the same old policies and principles, hiding behind a facade of patriotism and Sinhalese-Buddhist supremacy. In March this year, the leader of the JHU, the self-acclaimed custodian of the Sinhala-Buddhist values, wrote a piece on the national Tamil question. When one examines his arguments, one invariably comes to some unavoidable observations. With the one-sided arguments brought forward for the supremacy of Sinhalese-Buddhists based on the ‘Mahawansa’, the product of Maha Vihara Bikkhus who wrote about the Sinhalese Kings whom they considered as their favorites and a chronicle that G C Mendis, the reputed Sri Lankan historian, dismissed as an inauthentic history of Sri Lanka in the context of classical history writings, the JHU leader cements his case for Sinhala-dominated national identity, fanning racial and ethnic flames further, making any reconciliation between the two communities impossible.
Now they have issued a ‘manifesto’. It is nothing but a collection of failed agendas of the past and a severely cynical and hypocritical declaration of ideas and if dissected scrupulously as it should be, might still hoodwink the masses who are usually susceptible to election sloganeering. There are no fresh ideas; there is no apology for the last eleven years’ silence although they might argue that lodging a protest here and an objection there are somewhat an expression of dissatisfaction with the powers that be. That won’t do. The serious political paper which they tabled as part of a ‘sweeping transformation with a constitutional amendment’, reads more like a chapter from a boring book put away in library racks, gathering dust for want of a reader.
Huge investment on the part of ‘government’ as against the ‘private sector’, is, in fact going back in history but going back there is trying to reverse a relentless and irreversible process that has been set in motion in 1977 which broke the shackles of a stagnating economy and freed it to the open-market principles. Any attempt to go back to ‘regulating’ the march of the ‘private and free enterprise’ organism would only cause severe hardships to the suffering majority in the short run and irreparable damage to the economy in the long run. Creating a huge, unmanageable state-run apparatus to regulate and control daily human endeavors and free enterprise would only contribute to further the hegemonic hold that the State holds over the population. The consequences of enabling such a vast State-managed economy would be the recreation of long lines for bread and dhal, scarcities of rice and potatoes, rampant unemployment and/or under-employment and the riling behavior of ruling politicians without a care for the suffering masses nor an eye or ear for their unending wants.
But one cannot escape the reality of the JHU’s cynicism and hypocrisy; one simply cannot disregard the reality of the JHU going to bed with the same regime for eleven consecutive years, availing themselves of the warmth and comfort of the soft linen and cushy pillows of ministerial benefits and massive perks that accrue to the portfolios and positions. Whenever some extreme Sinhalese-Buddhist elements in society cry foul on other religious segments, either they keep quiet or endorse those sentiments most vigorously and unequivocally. They have carved out their niche-corner in the psyche of the masses, in the dark and shadowy pitches of turn and bounce.
Over the years they were in the Government, they carefully built a nest of comfort for their young and tender on a bed of soothing and enchanting stories of Mahawansa during day and nasty and hateful tales of Tamil and Muslim exigencies during the night. They must be feeling that time is ripe for them to go it alone or make a run for it along with some fellow-travelers.
The release of their ‘manifesto’ and its timing with the waning popularity of Mahinda Rajapaksa and fading of war-victory symbols and slogans from the consciousness of Sri Lankan society, could be termed classically appropriate. With the extreme elements of the Sinhalese majority with them and hopefully with a silent nod from the JVP too, the Jathika Hela Urumaya might be plotting to take away some part of the votes that would have naturally gone towards the UPFA candidate. If Mahinda Rajapaksa is qualified to contest a third time- it remains very much an ‘if’ as some serious doubts have been raised in legal circles, consequent upon the Ex-Chief Justice Sarath Silva’s assertion that Mahinda Rajapaksa is not qualified to run a third lap- the JHU is gambling and gambling big time, because in the context of the Opposition deciding to field a ‘common candidate’ but reaching an impasse for want of one who is acceptable to all parties- UNP, DP, JVP and the rest- the Jathika Hela Urumaya might be thinking of presenting their leader as the common candidate.
It is no secret that all these politicians who gained limelight only in the last couple of years have begun to think in terms of leading the country one day. If I choose to write the names of all those who have been fantasizing about being President of this country, the reader would have to decide as to who is really insane: me or all those ‘dreamers’. Yet in the interest of sanity, I opt not to mention those names as I believe that it is their right to dream as much as they want. Given the context of these ‘day-dreamers’, the JHU’s gambit to release a ‘manifesto’ and at the same time pose to the country as true believers of the message of the Mahawansa, is a carefully crafted strategy but it is bound to fail as the JHU has lost all credibility among the minorities- Tamils and Muslims. In fact, the main base of the JHU is the Sinhalese Buddhists who were mainly UNP voters who were in search of a separate identity from those who were already identified with the Sri Lanka Freedom Party. With the introduction and implementation of the infamous Ceasefire Agreement (CFA) of Ranil Wickremesinghe, these fringe voters who were up to that time voting with the UNP flocked around the JHU.
The Jathika Hela Urumaya is essentially a microcosm of the country’s problem. When one reads through its press releases, manifestos and other publications, one immediately detects the deep-seated prejudices and senseless assertions that this political party has been advocating over the last decade or so. All their answers seem to lie in the transparently empty rhetoric that countless pseudo-patriots have been hurling at reasonably thinking people during the last few years.
JHU’s basic premise or lack thereof is fundamentally flawed in that there is no recognition of the rightful place for the Northern and Eastern Tamils. Nowhere in their propaganda is mentioned about equal status for Tamils; nowhere have they written about historical indignities that were meted out to Tamils by the ruling Sinhalese-Buddhist leaders since Independence. They have been in a perpetual state of denial. If that state of denial is a product of the collective ignorance of the party, then one could perhaps forgive them but if it is deliberate and a product of a well-concocted strategy, it could be very dangerous and sinister. The cynical assumption that the people of Sri Lanka could be taken for suckers of the first order and its gruesome underlining fact that empathy or compassion is a totally alien evocation to our people, especially of rural and unsophisticated genre will certainly lead the JHU towards an abyss.
*The writer can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org