2 April, 2023


JVP’s Task Ahead

By Ameer Ali

Dr. Ameer Ali

Ranil Wickremesinghe has reclaimed his Prime Ministership, not because he deserved but because of President Sirisena’s impulsive irrationality driven by hunger for power and because of a determined commitment by JVP, TNA and Muslim parliamentarians to rescue democracy from the brink of destruction engineered by a conspiratorial cabal. Above all and most importantly, it is the country’s Supreme Court with its utmost impartiality, integrity and independence amidst unwarranted doubts, baseless rumours and malicious speculations that finally restored sanity out of nearly two months of chaos. In total, the resurrection of the UNP government is the only sensible alternative. The biggest question facing the nation now is quo vadis?   

Although democracy has been restored there is little room for complacency, because the nation is not totally out of the woods. The economy has to be rebuilt, international confidence restored, budgetary problems addressed and clean government or yahapalana guaranteed.  Even if the UNP government is allowed to run its full term of office until 2020, the country desperately needs another alternative to the UNP-SLFP/SLPP hackneyed two party race. This is not a phenomenon unique to Sri Lanka. In several other democratic polities too including those in Western countries, voters are getting increasingly frustrated at the underperformance of the two party system and the increasing similarity in policies and programs between them. Capitalism with its neoliberal economic ideology has captured the manifestos and campaign platforms of the contestants, to benefit the rich abundantly at the expense of the poor and vulnerable. These voters are therefore shifting allegiance towards a third alternative, which unfortunately is dominated by the far-right. As the far-right erodes into traditional vote banks of major parties, the latter in turn are forced to reshape their manifestos with subtle inclusions of far-right policies. For instance, while the far-right in Europe, UK, US and Australia openly advocates Islamophobia to get rid of Muslim minorities, traditional parties advocate the same but under a more electorally palatable policy of immigration control and border security. This is their undercover Islamophobia devised to distract voters from more pressing issues about economy and welfare.    

One can witness a similar trend in Sri Lanka also in recent times, especially during and after the civil war. The rising popularity of far right parties like Jathika Hela Urumaya, Sinha Le and Bodu Bala Sena – all backed by varied vested interests including minority elements from the sangha and foreign powers – have forced the two national parties to sing the far-right racist chorus but in soothing tunes. Both UNP and SLFP/SLPP address different ethnic audience with different ethnic messages and keep the country continuously divided. This is why the country still remains divided and in imbroglio on the ethnic issue. As long as that issue remains unresolved peace and development of the country will be hamstrung. In a plural society no single component of that plurality however large that may be can move that society forward with peace and prosperity. It is this truism, which marks the difference between a highly successful and prosperous Singapore and disappointingly failed and impoverished Sri Lanka.  

It is in this context that one should consider the role of JVP as a viable and promising third alternative. True, this party has a bloody past soiled in juvenile revolutionary romanticism. Having paid a heavy price for that delinquency however, it has now changed over a new leaf and evolved into a more matured democratic political alternative with demonstrable pragmatism. The way it has conducted itself in the current parliament in general and in the constitutional crisis in particular has proved its democratic and patriotic mettle. Of course, there will be critics who will pick instances here and there from the recent past and present to dispute this thesis. However, in rough and tumble of politics compromises over crucial issues are sometimes demanded from any leadership without surrendering its fundamental principles and policies.  

The fact that JVP, unlike the other rathu sahotharayas, is a party with a rural Buddhist base is an incredible advantage because, historically, it was with that rural support ancient monarchs successfully built a resplendent but peaceful, prosperous and pluralist Sri Lanka that lasted even under colonial oppression. After independence however, an emotionally driven, urban biased and ethnically divisive party politics poisoned the rural Buddhist mass and ruined its inherited quality of compassion and cosmopolitanism. It is therefore the task of the JVP to resurrect these rural qualities with a solid campaign and workable program. That campaign should convince the rural Buddhists first and others later that Sri Lanka is a nation belonging to everyone, be it Sinhalese, Tamil or Muslim. Unlike the two major parties JVP should not speak with forked tongue. Its messages should be the same but in languages directly understandable to listeners, whether in Colombo, Kandy, Galle, Jaffna or anywhere else. Those messages must be one of inclusion and not exclusion, patriotic and not parochial, regional or sectarian, humanist and not predatory and above all sincere and not opportunistic. Until now all political campaigns by all so called national and regional parties have been exclusionary, parochial, predatory and opportunistic. 

The third alternative under JVP may not be achievable in 2020 or earlier but a dedicated campaign along the suggested line should bring respectable outcome in the medium term.  Are Anura Kumara Dissananyake and his lieutenants ready to take up the challenge? 

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Latest comments

  • 10

    Well written and logical.
    There is still goodwill and hope for the future; the makeup of the JVP is “YOUNG” which is very positive.

    • 7

      Dr. Ameer Ali,

      Thank you for your succinct ideas about the third alternative.

      If you look back at history, UNP started out that way, United National Party, that broke into disunited parties.

      Yes, this is a great opening to form the New United JVP, United National Liberation Party, picking up elements from the other parties, UNP, SLFP/SLPP.

      • 0

        Dr.Amir Ali
        A very good essay dissecting and analysing the shortcomings of communal and religious politics to hide the corruption and social malaise involved in being wedded to a capitalistic form of governance.
        The observation that the JVP unlike the Rathu Sahdarayas led by their respective leaders in the so called CPSL and theLSSP have not bedded down with the racists in the SLPP and not lost all moral claims despite the youthful delinquency indulged in the 1970’s is in fact a telling testimony to the efforts of it’s present leadership to become more acceptable to serve the people in the island constituency.

    • 1

      Ameer Ali

      “Are Anura Kumara Dissananyake and his lieutenants ready to take up the challenge? “

      The JVP is no different to other opportunistic racist parties. The party has to revisit its own past and review its ideology or lack of it and it’s own actions and inactions.

      Many of its immature cadres have no clue about the rapidly changing world, technology, trade, resource crunch, poverty, international trade relation, political economy, …………… and still believe their leaders possess the ability to ring fence this island from outside influence, international trade, culture, tourism, …….. protect Sinhala/Buddhism forever, … and live without technological development as if they could produce everything in this little island without the support of other countries and exchange of ideas, equipments, know how, technology, ……….. a stupid inward looking outlook.

      The Village based farmers could not and should not expect the state and the parties which govern them supplement their income through various means forever as this leads to most corrupt, racist regimes being elected and to take hold of their life forever.

      Could we not persuade the Mahanayakes and their fellow monks to work in the field at least for a month in return for food and shelter.

  • 4

    Thank you sir for the insightful article.

    My only comment would be regards your statement: “Capitalism with its neoliberal economic ideology has captured the manifestos and campaign platforms of the contestants, to benefit the rich abundantly at the expense of the poor and vulnerable.”

    I believe you have mischaracterized capitalism. The rich benefiting at the expense of the poor is a characteristic of crony capitalism, or in other words, socialism.

    All capitalism fundamentally is, is that trade must happen voluntarily and without coercion. The political ideology and legal framework facilitating this type of trade is not strictly capitalism but is merely the system facilitating the state of capitalism.

    Do note that a government that taxes citizens, on income or property etc. does not facilitate capitalism, for the payment of taxes is non voluntary and coercive.

    Should we have capitalism in Sri Lanka, or anywhere else in the world, then the only possible outcome is that all people must benefit – simply because trade is voluntary and non-coercive and thus exchanges at the expense of another cannot happen.

  • 5

    Ameer Ali,

    This is an exciting article! I fully endorse

    Nation building is priority for development.

    It is self evident that the country had miserably failed to build up a nation.

    JVP is a real rural Sinhala Buddhist based political party that continues to be a distant third force and that it failed in their violent past mainly because they adopted exclusive policy towards other communities.

    Now they are making correct noises, but not convincingly.

    They could transform the political scenario by challenge major political parties and successfully adopting an inclusive approach, not merely for immediate political advantage, but it is the only way possible because the other communities are not going to vanish into thin air or get assimilated but continue to exit as a thorn allowing other interested parties to exploit their grievances and aspirations from time to time.

    The suspicious approach that had been adopted for centuries since the colonial period towards the other communities that they were aliens waiting to exploit the country and that they do not have any interests in the country should be allayed once and for all from minds of mainstream, not as tactics to gather the votes for short term electoral advantages, and not even as a long term strategy,but It is because it is the fact. It is the reality.
    It is the rural Sinhala Buddhist Community that should take the initiative, not the other way around.

    I deliberately avoided using the words ‘majority”, “minority” or “nationality” for obvious reasons

  • 7

    Dr Ameer Ali looks like an advisor for JVP from Australian soil.great he must be like that ..
    People who left the country are more patriotic to Sri Lankan soil that people who live in it ..
    While now politicians loot the Sri Lanka .JVP stand for nation ..

    ( Having paid a heavy price for that delinquency however, it has now changed over a new leaf and evolved into a more matured democratic political alternative
    with demonstrable pragmatism)…
    JVP is only party who can build this nation….
    SLFP; SLPP; UNP fight is clear now ..
    Now JVP must make use of this..
    All what it need is rural votes

  • 2

    “The fact that JVP, unlike the other rathu sahotharayas, is a party with a rural Buddhist base is an incredible advantage “
    The writer seems to be a little out of touch.
    The JVP had a rural base which it willfully abandoned in the late 1990s in its ambition to attract the urban middle class.
    Its youth base is split between the JVP and FLSP.

    • 0

      “It’s youth base is split between the JVP and FLSP.
      May be true, and that is the latest news about healing the split, I read recently somewhere is already being discussed by both.

  • 4

    It seems that the JVP has gained a lot of mileage during the recent crisis by its highly principled stand and is sure to benefit by that at the next Parliamentary election. It could double its number or even treble it. If it manages to treble its number, or even do better, it could become the king-maker. How it turns out eventually, is hard to predict now. Lets hope, it turns out for the good of the country.

  • 2

    Dear Mr Ali Thank you.

    It is not for JVP to prove matuarity as they have already shown matuarity by having National policies/agendas for all….??

    It is for the Tamil and Muslim parties to join hands with whoever by ‘loosing identities’ that will change the National politics. JVP may accommodate those particular voters as members of the party from this minority groupings who feel they do not want to be associated with UNP/SLFP based on our National history for sure.

    What will be a game changer/progressive in nature attracting the next generation will be a Sri Lankan Green Party so appropriate for the times……as you will also note (not included in your observation/analysis) the growing green politics in the world as a way of living in harmony with nature.

    This will also avoid the historical conflicts that exist between the Tamil and Muslim politics too. We kill many birds with one stone is critical and is a good way forward as no one need to loose face here….but a natural evolution based on all the minority party achievements too.

    Can the minority parties leave their electorates for a ‘free and fair’ elections choosing their own destiny but still can make their case for why they need to be elected????. This was never the historical case. We focused on UNP/SLFP for too long failed to identify issues with minority parties now passed the sell by date is the point??

    We need to set president for change others will follow too. Playing victims all the times are self defeating. This applies to the upcountry tamil politics too. The bigger picture vision will spare our future generations of all the unnecessary pain like the one we have just been through in our life time??.

  • 1

    We agree with you Dr Ameer Ali ~ “…….Until now all political campaigns by all so called national and regional parties have been exclusionary, parochial, predatory and opportunistic……”.
    Pointers are, this might be so in the near future too.
    SLPP will unfurl the language/religion-divide.
    JVP has not indicated, clearly, where they stand.

  • 3

    If they get rid of Anura and Vijitha and give the leadership to Handunneththi, JVP may have a future. With the ‘Rathu Ali Petaw’ label attached to them, they will be doomed at the next election. JVP has lost university crowd to Peratugami Pakshaya.

  • 3

    ” The fact that JVP is…….rural Buddhist base…….” Here again dragging another factor that could best be left alone. What we need now is a “Committed Politicians” who could address and deliver what the country awaits and badly need No doubt JVP is trying to identify the most NEEDED to be done and towards that effort, and it had aligned with an organization called “National Intellectuals Organization”. This “NIO” is presently touring the country to establish a dialogue with such others and general public interested groups. Hope they will soon come up with a PLAN OF ACTION and “FIND” the correct types of an “ARMY” of competent “Representatives” to be entrusted with the IMPLEMENTATION process. Yet, it is only “TALK”. Will wait for the outcome to make an ASSESSMENT.

    • 3

      I am sure they will walk the talk.Give them a chance.

  • 5

    Dear Dr. Ali,
    Thank you for the very insightful and unbiased article. I have had my political differences and fear of the JVP. although my fear has dissipated since I got a chance to advice them and share my experience of public advocacy. There was a time Dr. Ali that I would have never voted for the JVP or offered my services. This stems from their brutal past. I lost many friends and know families that lost their loved ones from my university faculty days owing to the violence unleashed by both sides. I still have not forgotten the beeshanaya times and the lives lost to the senseless violence. I lost faith in whatever that would become the JVP or branded under the JVP as a result of that treacherous past. Nevertheless, I must admit Dr. Ali that the new politburo of the JVP led my MP Anura K Dissanayake and his lieutenants are a different kettle of fish. They are much different to the JVP we were notoriously accustomed to. I can be wrong in my judgement or being tricked by their new JVP MP’s demeanor. I say this because I have met everyone of them and worked in a political advisory capacity to them since recently. Therefore, I can admit that the current lot of the JVP MP’s are of impeccable character and discipline. The JVP as a party take great effort to cleanse their party from questionable members getting root among them. This kind of disciplinary action, cleansing the party members and transparency are non-existent in many other political parties around today. For example look at their party manifesto and how they make political contributions transparent with traceable audits.

    • 2

      The crucial question is why the JVP can’t increase its electoral gains? Will you alive the JVP to engage a credible survey research agency and conduct an objective study? Unless some methodical research is done to find out the reasons for people’s reluctance to support JVP, no one will know why? Conducting seminars and political rallies alone is not going to bring the voters to the ballot box to support JVP.

      • 0

        Dear Gamege

        (1) To increase the electoral gains amongst the ‘young’ future progressive parties be ‘Green’ in their manifesto? Entire land and sea management/resource management need green/sustainability considerations. The party should have expert spokesman on these subjects? a strong team of people to evaluate/due dilligence on various development proposals for suitability comparing the best green technologies around the world. Streamline all the municipalities/LG in fundamental services specially solid waste/water and waster water/sewage management etc.

        (2) This is in addition to all other know how/capability in all other adminstartive subject matters?? Most of the civil services capability/experience is wasted supporting/fixing the elected govwenments blunders currently and this need to change??

        (3) Compulsory military service to unit the country.

        (4) Ban on religious/race politics/parties. We shall never waste a minute of our life time discussing these issues ever. This is a past we remember for all the mindful future planning.

        (5) Education system to be geared up to meet Science and Technological future and we in Asia should become the centre for education attracting regional students?

        (6) A security set up that can deal with decent firmly but fairly from North to South and east to west. A very functional coast guard can protect the Nation working with the armed forces closely to protect us all from all undesirables.

        (7) Should have capability to deal with the outside stresses as Indian Ocean is a playground for all the wrong forces.

        (8) We should have a common memorial for all the Mother Lankan children perished ever since 1970’s and we have a remembrance day mindfully remembers all our flaws/ignorance in the past. A must for all the visiting head of states to pay respect on arrival too before any business discussions so international community understand where we stand as a Nation.

        (9) PM/Few ministries/few MP’s/LG and no other red tapes/elections.

    • 1

      Hi Raja

      Kind of you share positive inside knowledge the general public like us need to know for our evaluation.


  • 4

    Let’s give them a chance

  • 2

    Good insightful points were written by Dr.Ali. JVP demonstrated its uncorrupted honest standing during this so-called coup unleashed by President Sirisena and Mahinda Rajapakse that put our country in a turmoil. Ever since JVP’s violent struggle was defeated they didn’t resort to any form of violence whatsoever for nearly three decades. It is a remarkable achievement. They are truly honest with their consciousness. They deserve better representation in Parliament to safeguard democracy.

  • 3

    Mr. Ali,
    Its a very good article. It is a great opportunity to become an alternative political party to UNP and SLFP(SLPP). There is no difference between SLFP and SLPP because both are party of Mahinda, not the party of people. They have a strong support of the Buddhist Sinhala Fundamentalism which has greater influence of rural Sinhalese massess. UNP is the party of urban community with the support of businesses. There is another group of people who are Tamil speaking people (Tamils, Muslims and Up country Tamils) influenced by Federal Party, Muslim Congress and CWC. In the early period of independence, the left oriented communist parties (CP, LSSP) had the support of rural sinhalese masses and good sunk of Tamil speaking people. Once the SLFP lead by SWRD formed SLFP from UNP, the Sinhalese politics become the slave of Buddhist Sinhala Fundamentalism. Since then the influence Buddhist Sinhala Fundamentalism took greater influence and the rule of law , justice and security started to deteriorate day by day and Srilanka never recovered. Even the JVP was swallowed by Buddhist Fundamentalism in the past and I hope they have come out of it now.

  • 5

    continued from previous comment:
    It is a good sign that TNA and JVP worked together during this political coup. Blaming UNP and SLFP is not enough to become an alternative government. JVP should have clear programme and policies to resolve the economic problem, ethnic proplem, religious problem, corruption, human rights violations etcc. They should reach the people in every corner in this country.

  • 2

    Most of the Ameer”s ideas are good.
    JVP has to address the real ground situation of the country. Corruption is normal and everywhere ,country is divided among religions and nationalities.
    Challenge is while protecting the party discipline how to get the power.Combined approach has to be applied.Scientific approach should be the key.
    People who have a common goal of make a peaceful country should come forward and work as a team. Myself ,my religion, my nationality and my social status has to be kept aside and work as a Sri Lankan to a peaceful country. In a tug of war situation we can not achieve our goal. Openness,flexibility,constructive criticism and been humble should be key qualities in this process.
    Better JVP have a short term and long term approach,national wise and regional wise. May be make true partnership with others to achieve this goal.
    We can do this.

  • 0

    We Sri Lankan do not that want to be reborn politics of JVP in our soil at any cost of youth of land .
    Well those of who had many memories in that past tragedies of our decolonilizaton era history that
    53 years of was founded of JVP that 1965 May. It was unrecoverable damages to the real set back of our independent movement by JVP founder of PND Wijeweerera alias, “Rohan” alias, “Attnayake” alias and his that bunch anarchist .!!! @@@
    Those bunch of that JVP’s are political anarchist and Terrorist played role against aspiration of task of People’s democratic of an Islanders. There are quite sufficient facts, evidences of that historical betrayal of revolution by leaders of JVP that proven, undoubtedly is undisputed, by look back exercise of JVP in 1971 April 5th and 1988/89/90.

    Meanwhile JVP present and past leadership of was/is did Not that undertaken task of leadership of People’s New democratic revolution was not that surprised . JVP has betray an unprecedented task of bourgeoisies revolution. and its leadership.?

    By and large that ongoing ISIS ideologies and Tamil Separatist by mode of of Gun rule politics are currently back to JVP which that including of LTTE and TNA.
    They( TNA+UNP) wanted to created “new Politics” trend of maneuvering that so-called Third line politics of which is supposed to be adhere by current leaders of JVP. Therefor both ISIS and Tamil Gun Men are promoting new proposed an assignments to JVP leadership.

    In real terms of Political analysis that role played by JVP in 1971 April 5th and 1988/89/90 are irrapala and invariable damage to our task of Democratic Revolution.
    It(JVP) has given an unbelievable advantage to politics of Right-wing and orthodox of Most Neo-liberal forces led by UNP leadership of RW and CBK.
    In spite of that politics of JVP outfit….nothing else , it is Counter-revolutionary social an evil elements of against Ours Nation. Democracy….?

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