By Dayan Jayatilleka –
Literate political commentators are proffering at least three misleading ideas.
The first is that a vote for an emergent Opposition current will enhance the chances that this current will prop up the Gotabaya regime in securing a two-thirds majority.
The second is that a vote for any of the Opposition parties will be equally useful and valuable in stopping the totalitarian march of the regime.
The third is that the top priority of non-regime voters should be to vote in such a manner that a caucus of about a dozen MPs from the left-liberal front are elected.
For someone whose training is in political science and experience is in international politics, these arguments are dangerously absurd.
Let’s take the first point. As between Sajith and his SJB on the one hand and Ranil (or whoever succeeds him as leader) and the UNP on the other, who is more likely to prop up the government? The young leader of a larger, rising formation, who ran against GR for the presidency once and is certain to do so again in 2024 and would therefore not wish to blot his copybook among the voters by colluding with the regime, OR the old guy who leads a much smaller formation, who has no chance or intention of running for President, and whose only chance in political life is to get some space in government for the next five years?
C’mon, be serious. In whose interest would it be to prop up the government and be accommodated by it in return? Ranil’s or Sajith’s? The UNP’s or the SJB’s?
The second myth is that any vote for any Opposition party is equal to any other vote for any other opposition party. That and the third myth—that the priority should be to send a dozen JVPers to parliament—can be considered together.
The regime is far more lucid about what may constitute the biggest threat and what would not, than the left-liberal commentators who are critical of the regime.
On August 2nd, TV viewers heard the regime’s strategist and organizational mind, Basil Rajapaksa expressing his hope that the JVP has a sizeable representation in parliament.
Surely the seemingly ‘savage’ critics of the regime should wonder why their views coincide with those of Basil Rajapaksa? Why would BR not consider all opposition votes and future parliamentarians in the same light? Why should he not be agnostic or neutral as concerns the different streams of the opposition? Why would he prefer a noticeable JVP presence in the new Parliament?
That is because he is a realist who thinks strategically, unlike the regime’s left-liberal critics.
What does the regime really want? What is the real aim and goal of its relentless drive for a two-thirds majority? It is to turn Sri Lanka’s political system into a unipolar order. Put differently, unipolarity is the overriding goal.
What is the precondition for unipolarity? It is that there is no peer competitor, one who comes even close or can potentially become one. Strategists of unipolarity do not wish to see any competitor who is capable of bringing balance into the political equation.
The unipolar project does not mind a Third Force as opponent. What it does not want is a Second Force. The JVP/NPP is not a second force; it is a third force.
Basil Rajapaksa does not mind critics; what he does not want is a competitor, actual or potential—a competitor, or a force that can grow into a competitor for governmental power by the next national election. Even if he does mind critics, he doesn’t mind them as much as he does a potentially viable competitor.
The JVP/NPP is a critic, not a competitor.
Who then might Basil Rajapaksa consider as a competitor, actual or potential? Well he said that the UNP is fighting for third place but may wind up fourth. Therefore, logically, he does not regard the UNP as a potential competitor and balancer.
He would like the JVP/NPP in parliament but unless he is a political masochist, he would not say that about any that could function as a block to unipolarity and a competitor for governmental power.
He expects the TNA to get three electoral districts but the TNA can hardly ever grow, for obvious demographic reasons, into a national competitor for state power.
He says that whoever comes second will not get half of what the SLPP secures. That remains to be seen, but who is he referring to?
From his relegation of the UNP to third or fourth place, that clearly leaves only the SJB of Sajith Premadasa.
There you have it! If that’s what Basil Rajapaksa who seeks a two-thirds majority, thinks about rivals and competitors, then that’s what voters who do not want a two-thirds majority and a unipolar political system; voters who want the opposite of what he wants and seeks, should choose.
That’s why, contrary to the laissez-faire or lazily leftish politics of the left-liberal commentariat, a vote for anything but Sajith’s SJB will be a diversion from the imperative need for countervailing, balancing-off and competing with the regime. Such irresponsibility and indiscipline will only help the hegemonistic, unipolar and oligarchic project.