23 September, 2020

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Only A ‘People’s Campaign’ Can Topple The Rajapaksas

By Vishwamithra1984 –

“Never believe that a few caring people can’t change the world. For, indeed, that’s all who ever have.” ~Margaret Mead

Allow me to say it at the very outset: No campaign run by a group of elite-strategists, cloaked in suits and ‘Satakayas’, cooped up in air-conditioned rooms in Colombo and smoking cigars and sipping cognac and wine will help the Opposition to win the forthcoming Presidential Elections. They need to make this look not only like a ‘people’s campaign’, they ought to decentralize the campaign to such an incredible extent, each and every voter must feel that he or she is directing this campaign.

mahinda_rajapaksa_garlanded“Martin Luther King announced the Poor People’s Campaign at a staff retreat for the Southern Christian Leadership Conference (SCLC) in November 1967. Seeking a ‘middle ground between riots on the one hand and timid supplications for justice on the other,’ King planned for an initial group of 2,000 poor people to descend on Washington, D.C., southern states and northern cities to meet with government officials to demand jobs, unemployment insurance, a fair minimum wage, and education for poor adults and children designed to improve their self-image and self-esteem… The Poor People’s Campaign was seen by King as the next chapter in the struggle for genuine equality.” (Source: Martin Luther King Jr. and the Global Freedom Struggle)

The impending Presidential Election battle between the people of Sri Lanka, the average voters and the reigning powers is going to assume colossal proportions before long. The only way to dispel fear from the minds of the voter is to make him confront it head-on, from the day of nominations to the exact hour when the results are declared. There must not be rest in between, none whatsoever! The fear of loss of a job, the fear of losing privileges, the fear of ‘White Vans’, the fear of intimidation and assault and even the fear of death must be dared and challenged and defeated. Then and only then the desired result would be attained.

In other words, unleashing of non-violent forces this country has never seen in the history of elections must be undertaken not by the planners and strategists but more so by the common supporters – the party officials or ordinary members, wayside boutique-keepers, street vendors and container workers and drivers, three-wheeler riders and mo-bikers, farmers and teachers, Maha Sangha and priests of other religions, soldiers of the forces and policemen and women, government clerks and peons, cleaning crews and local government workers, University students and teachers, the employed and the unemployed, private sector executives and government officers – in short a massive force of middle-class, lower middle-class and the poor need to galvanize themselves and direct the top rung of society, professionals of all walks of life, lawyers and doctors, engineers and accountants and architects, planners, pundits and intellectuals to follow this non-violent campaign to convince one and all that this is the ‘mother of all elections’.

What appears on the outside is a total lie, a total fabrication and a total fake. The deliberate and willful humiliation of General Sarath Fonseka, once emulated by Government Ministers and their cohorts as a ‘war-hero’, firstly by incarcerating him on flimsy charges and secondly stooping to a new low by refusing to accept the relief items collected and sent by the General and his political party for distribution among the victims of the Koslanda landslide tragedy is very apparent. This lie needs exposure at the highest and most acute level. But it must be executed by the lower rungs of the voter hierarchy. Not professionals, not pundits and so-called leaders. The average guy on the street and the three-wheeler driver, the ordinary peon or clerk in the government department, the daily train-commuter and bus traveler, the mundane housewife and the hospital attendant must be the architects and spearhead of the campaign of exposing the lie and holding aloft the truth.

Take the case of impeachment of ex-Chief Justice, Shirani Bandaranayake. Harassing the High Priest of the Judiciary and throwing her to the wolves in the ‘den’ called Parliamentary Select Committee was no accident nor was it hastily steered Statecraft. It was a ploy planned with meticulous care and scrupulous sensitivity to detail to get rid of a thorny irritant from the lordliest seat in the judicial system. At the time this sad episode started unravelling, due to the idiotic stance adopted by the then United National Party (UNP) leadership of Ranil Wickremesinghe, the average man or woman in the country could not relate to the very phenomenon of the ouster of the Chief justice from her Chair. They are only now suffering the consequence of that process.

So, when the bigwigs, the leadership of the UNP and the rest of the Opposition failed so miserably, how can the ordinary voter respond to this nasty turn of events?  How difficult or easy is it going to be, this campaign to be guided and actually run by the ordinary? How is one going to plan this and execute it to an acceptable degree? A democracy that is salubrious in the context of societal expectations and yet constrained so that the fundamental decencies of human behavior are observed, cannot be sustained without structures that are essentially integral to the whole. And accountability and transparency at the highest level of governance. And that is precisely what the ‘Common Opposition’ and its candidate have to promise to bring about during the campaign.

In this context, not only Anura Kumara Dissanayake but all the speakers of the Janatha Vimukthi Peramuna (JVP) are outstanding. They can articulate really profound arguments in simple terms the general masses can understand and relate to. That skill was possessed by R Premadasa to a great extent and to some considerable degree by Lalith Athulathmudali and Gamini Dissanayake in the past UNP. Now the UNP does not have a single speaker who is possessed of such oratorical talents. But it does not matter so long as the capabilities of Anura Kumara, Lal Kantha, Vijitha Herath and Handunhetti are available for the ‘Common Opposition’.

Making the Presidential Elections a ‘referendum’ on the incumbent, as was enunciated in one of my previous columns, is pivotal in directing the propaganda onslaught against the current holder of office. As was revealed over the last couple of days, political deals by unscrupulous elements whose ambitions and lifetime goals are shrouded by a shady past and even shadier present should not be allowed to hoodwink the masses yet again. Sri Lanka does not belong to ‘deal-makers’ although timely-executed bargains between politically diverse groups such as the formation of the ‘Common Opposition’ do define the demands, challenges and solutions at the present time.

Concentration of political criticism of the incumbent on his strongest points is not only vital, it is crucial to the campaign of the ‘Common Opposition’. What is the incumbent’s strongest point? Obviously it is the ‘war-victory’. There are ways and means of neutralizing the Rajapaksa myth of ‘war-victory’. By spelling it out here, before the campaign is launched, I do not wish to jeopardize the chances of the ‘Common Opposition’. Mangala Samaraweera, the UNP Media Director would understand that and I’m sure he would follow the same logic.

There is a great deal of apprehension among the masses that even if the real result is a victory for the ‘Common Opposition’ and its Candidate, someone else would be declared the winner at the declaration point. This same phenomenon existed in the Philippines when public outrage led to the snap elections of 1986 and to the making of the so-called ‘People Power Revolution’ in February 1986 that ousted the then ‘warlord of the Philippines’, Ferdinando Marcos. Although Marcos tried his best to hang on to power through the military might of his close associate, General Fabian Ver, the Chief of the Armed Forces of the Philippines under him but he failed. It is suspected that he was the mastermind of the assassination of former Senator Benigno Aquino, Jr. However, as history was the unwavering witness, Marcos could not withstand the storms unleashed by the people’s power.

Such is the might of people’s power. Let us take history as our mentor!

History as mentor…

Shaping its flow and defining its character;

Producing its offspring, and nursing its siblings;

A great force, unrelenting and ruthless and taking no prisoners

Throwing up debris that its offspring scavenge and chew

Munch and leave for legacy of mediocrity. The supreme mentor- events and their cause

Turning a leaf after leaf, cascading its eternal flow thru’ flaws and follies of Man, from dawn till dusk

And whither after!

*The writer can be contacted at vishwamithra1984@gmail.com

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Latest comments

  • 12
    0

    Vishwamithra,

    ‘We must do this’, ‘we must do that’, is the oft repeated theme of your pieces on CT. We all know what needs to be done. But who is going to take carriage of that campaign. RW like you say is slumbering in his armchair. Sajith want’s to be leader of UNP though he has shown no real mettle. Karu sends mixed messages from the sidelines. AKD has not made clear what the new JVP policies are. Sobitha is just dreaming. All this ‘We must do this’, ‘we must do that’, is wasted at the moment because there is no credible leader who can spearhead all or any action.

    • 4
      1

      Vishwamithra1984 –

      RE: Only A ‘People’s Campaign’ Can Topple The Rajapaksas

      You Need the common sense pamphlet. Are you prepared to produce that?

      http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Common_Sense_(pamphlet)

      Common Sense (pamphlet)

      Common Sense[1] is a pamphlet written by Thomas Paine in 1775–76 that inspired people in the Thirteen Colonies to declare and fight for independence from Great Britain in the summer of 1776. In clear, simple language it explained the advantages of and the need for immediate independence. It was published anonymously on January 10, 1776, at the beginning of the American Revolution and became an immediate sensation. It was sold and distributed widely and read aloud at taverns and meeting places. Washington had it read to all his troops, which at the time had surrounded the British army in Boston. In proportion to the population of the colonies at that time (2.5 million), it had the largest sale and circulation of any book published in American history.[2]

      Common Sense presented the American colonists with an argument for freedom from British rule at a time when the question of whether or not to seek independence was the central issue of the day. Paine wrote and reasoned in a style that common people understood. Forgoing the philosophical and Latin references used by Enlightenment era writers, he structured Common Sense as if it were a sermon, and relied on Biblical references to make his case to the people.[3] He connected independence with common dissenting Protestant beliefs as a means to present a distinctly American political identity.[4] Historian Gordon S. Wood described Common Sense as “the most incendiary and popular pamphlet of the entire revolutionary era”.[5

      • 3
        1

        What is this Vishvamitra, Titsaranee, Amarasiri and others?

        You keep talking (more like dreaming) about a peoples’ revolution and common sense pamphlets but do nothing. All hot air.

        As I have said before, we should get Emil van der poorten to write this pamphlet and get it over and done with. We must elevate this revolutionary to national leadership, all the way from Galagedara to Battaramulla.

        So let us stop polluting the environment with these [Edited out] and get moving once the presidential election is announced.

        Emil for president!

      • 1
        0

        Oh, for goodness sake, Amarasiri!
        Why dont YOU write the Common Pamphlet!

    • 1
      0

      Vishvamitra is right. This is the moment every political leader should be relishing. A chance to take the crown, a chance to shine. So, what do we have? The permanent head of the largest political party in the country playing coy. He should be stepping up to the plate, prepared to do battle. He has had plenty of time to prepare and hone his act to perfection. Instead we have confusion, obfuscation and vacillation. Does he have the stomach? Is he doubting himself? Is he planning on being non-playing captain? Is the task of challenging MaRa AND his coterie a polling station too far? The other beasts of our political jungle too are shying away; like a virgin journalist in a Geneva brothel afraid to take of his trousers in case it becomes evident he hasn’t the balls to do the job. I am afraid this hesitation and delay has played right into the hands of Satakaya Man, acknowledged through the land as being in the vanguard that vanquished the limping Tigers and brought peace to this blessed island. Now, this same coterie that brought peace asks the people to trust them as peace keepers. Still, a month is a very very long time in politics, so don’t bring out the cheena pattas just yet.

  • 8
    2

    Our last attempt of a “People’s Campaign” ended in failure when that election was rigged and democracy was robbed. Not even the Election commissioner was spared. General Fonseka, the common candidate was humiliated, spat-on, kicked and beaten while he was being dragged along the ground to a prison cell. Didn’t we learn our lessons from the previous debacle? What is needed today is to oust the Rajapaksha MAFIA by unleashing a Peoples ARMED REBELLIION with the aim of sending the entire Rajapaksha clan and the military top brass to their graves. The lower ranks of the military can be easily influenced and will revolt in a mutiny. If new military leadership is not appointed to fill the void and control the situation, this country may lead the same path to anarchy as Iraq did. Worse case scenario is that we will have a Military dictatorship that is not worse than what we have now with Gota calling the shots.

  • 7
    1

    Vishwamithra

    Very precise, very categorical and a fervent call for an immediate crackdown. If nobody comes go alone said Tagore. The country is groaning to know who the ‘Common Candidate’ is. Parties can coalesce only around a single candidate. Only with that innermost circle can the voters crystallize.

    Impending victory is going a begging and the opposition is refusing to pick it up. If this is not a tragedy, is it holy wisdom?

  • 7
    2

    Rajapaksas will win the election. but he will be toppled in 2 years. Same as if he would have had the election close to his 6 year term.

    Here are the reasons.
    1: UN will find his or his brother guilty.
    2: Eyewitness account of war crime will come from within his own ranking.
    What I mean by that. The SL military correspondents and the military men who took the orders from Gotabaya Rajapaksa are now Disenfranchised will have grief to settle.
    3: Eyewitness account coming from Sinhalese military men is extremely difficult to pass on as propaganda.

    The Topplers are within his regime. They are just waiting for the right time.

  • 3
    0

    Bread (rice?) is the main thing to win election not liberty the incumbent will win by a majority of a million votes whoever contest him.

  • 5
    1

    MR is a strong candidate and has already started the campaign, but UNP the leading party in the opposition is only showing lethargy,and somehow has
    Proceeding as if they are not interested in winning the elections. RW, is a gentleman but that alone will not bring votes. He should not be the candidate but act more vigorously on mobilising the
    like minded leaders in other parties
    and campaign. If RW contests MR assured of another
    great victory.

  • 5
    1

    Looking at the pictures in this article – it looks like people campaign has started. http://www.seithy.com/breifNews.php?newsID=121032&category=TamilNews&language=tamil.

    Organisers should take the campaign to other places all over the country

  • 1
    4

    Yeah.. Right..

    You think the Elite , Anglicans and Vellalas can muster Soldiers, Monks, Masons. Manual Labourers, Mums and Dads to come on to the streets and shout slogans like “Jayaveva to the TNA, and the Diasproa” .. And “Devi Pihitai to JVP and Ranil.”..

  • 4
    0

    One minister in the GOSL has said that the Chief Executives of private companies can have greater say with the GOSL than cabinet ministers.

    Surely we have lost democracy to ultra wealthiest, arms dealers and abusive and corrupt politicos. They abuse power rouse up racism and use their stolen wealth to entice millions of people to vote for them.

    They are selfish and greedy and forget to implement social justice, equality and dignity for ALL people as prescribed in democracy.

    The heart of democracy that demanded was equal political participation by people as a key to more equitable sharing of resources. It was intended as a means for the reallocation of power away from unscrupulous and unaccountable wealthy Elite.

    Now the Sri Lankan Elite are like colonials.They plunder our money and exploit us the people.

    • 0
      2

      Your first sentence merely betrays the fact that Sri Lanka is emulating the ‘best’ of the West, while pretending to be a socialist paradise.

  • 2
    0

    If a united opposition carries out a planned campIgn, speaking in one voice, to all sections of the public, victory for the common candidate representing the opposition is assured.

  • 2
    0

    Even in the exhibition of pre announcement violence, there is discretion shown by the rough necks of the government. The strong and impressive march of 10,000 strong in the JVP demonstration unnerved the hit squad. It dared not touch. It tried to show its valour at SF demonstration.

    Moral is; strength in numbers is necessary to quell the forces of government. Solidarity of the opposition on constant display can paralyse the irregulars of the immoral regime.

  • 0
    0


    There is a great deal of apprehension among the masses that even if the real result is a victory for the ‘Common Opposition’ and its Candidate, someone else would be declared the winner at the declaration point.

    There are a few things the Common Candidate Movement can start doing:

    Start cultivating the rank and file in the Armed Forces. There are many among them who have been wronged by the top brass. Make it known that the Brigadiers, Generals and other high ups, who are the lickspittle of the Rajapaksas today, will be brought to trial and disposed of. Make it known that a large number of named individuals lower down will replace them with unbelievably high rewards.

    A corollary to this would be to identify high rankers in the other branches of the government muscle. For example publicly threaten Mohan Peiris and a couple of others in the Judiciary known to be Rajapakse stooges with dire consequences, and also announce great rewards for members of the Judiciary who “maintained high standards”.

    Similarly with the Police, Civil Service and Corporate Sector. Regarding the private sector, eg Gora’s Apollo Hospital called by some other name today – promise to nationalize it.

    Similarly with large commercial establishments owned by the Rajapakse cronies, threaten nationalization, closure or what have you, and promise the stooge owners with tax enquiries, prosecution and jail for their unsavouryl business transactions . Promise to hand over the Management of these enterprises to Cooperative Societies, with profit sharing by the public.

    I know these ideas are loosely worded but we have plenty of experts in Sri Lanka who can implement them.

    The Opposition Parties must promise from today and make sure, that from seven days before the presidential elections, all the airports, minor airstrips, seaports, boats, yachts and small craft will be occupied by hordes and hordes of demonstrators to stop the Rajapaksasfrom fleeing the country.

    Promise the People that the MaraGoraBara Trinity will at all times remain under seige; that they will be able to escape only over your “dead body”. Make doubly sure Mara and Gora remain surrounded by your own mobs and will not be able to flee the country. Tell the People they will be hounded and that you promise they will not be able even to piss without guards keeping watch on their dicks.

    Promise the People Mara will be tried by Peoples Courts on Galle Face Green with proceedings broadcast live. The key to getting the people on your side, will be to disclose full details of MaraGoraBara financial rackets, commissions, kickbacks, and the secret profits made with Chinese collusion from so called MEGA PROJECTS.

    Initiate compiling a list of criminalities committed by MaraGoraBara, and their cronies. Make it available to the General Public with full details and proof of the commission of those crimes. Lanka E News, CT and like minded publications will I am sure oblige with free publication.

    Educate the public. Enlist patriotic minded officers in the Defence and Finance Ministries and lower grade officers in the Army Navy and Police, the Corporate Sector and Private Sector to provide information about the financial terrorism of the Unholy Trinity. Show the Electorate how they have been raped for the last ten years, starting with the robbery of the Tsunami Funds.

    To get the enthusiastic support of the electorate you will need to name the individuals who will lose their heads, and those whose heads will be crowned. One has to use the methods of the marauding Rajapaksas in order to get rid of them. No Choice.

    Promise the People that after the MaraGoraMara Trinity is deposed that you will install legislation, providing punishment for politicians caught with the hand in the till, that will ranging from a minimum of 10 years jail time to hanging in public depending on the severity of the thievery.

    Make the people angry and frothing with the ruling regime. Make them compare the misery they go through on a daily basis just so they keep body and soul together, with the decadent opulence of the Rajapakse family and cronies. Use the AKD formula. When all of the downtrodden suffering masses start salivating with the prospect of delivering punishment to Mara and his crooks under the new order, and enjoying some degree of dignity and prosperity for themselves, the Rajapakse crown will already have been lost.

    After the shit is wiped clean, we can set out to reinstall law and order, to guarantee a country governed subject to the Rule of Law for future generations.

    Thinking people know this will be a do or die battle. Our side has to win: otherwise Sri Lanka is doomed for disgrace and annihilation.

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