By S. Sivathasan –
Peoples’ Power Potential
As students we had our first brush with revolution through the graphic description of Dickens. A film on the Two Cities further embedded in our minds the Storming of The Bastille and the ever merciless Guillotine. A mere two years in our academic life brought us face to face with the Russian Revolution and the total reordering of society. Since then a plethora of upheavals from Europe to Asia and Africa is before us. The disappearance of Ceausescu to Marcos to Shah of Iran to Gaddafi with many in between provides the same lesson and imparts the identical moral. Pitted against the power of the people, the might of the tyrant melts away. “What are Caesar’s swords but less than rust?” becomes a relevant quote here.
The happenings as at above have been continuous and consistent as to support not a surmise or a hypothesis but a law. The iron law is that when a people deeply aggrieved move in the mass and strike together, even an entrenched dictatorship gives way, gets uprooted and is supplanted. Today Sri Lanka is on the throes of such a situation. If the law is understood, action needs to follow. Perception among the politically conscious is that the time is ripe.
The people turning against the incumbent regime in Sri Lanka, is not a mid-term event in its nine year tenure. Its very birth in 2005 was overshadowed by infamy. The ‘Helping Hambantota’ farce was a finger into the Tsunami till to finance the Presidential election as the country construed it and a former Chief Justice affirmed, not without reason. The majority of 180,000 at the national level was paltry. It was secured by converting a solid Tamil vote of not less than 400,000 dedicated to the alternate candidate Ranil, into a non-vote by means that were unholy. Thus illegitimacy surrounded the new one ever since and weighed heavily down by this ignominy, it could hardly perform beyond its stigma.
What followed thereafter? An ethnic war of genocidal proportions. It had two dimensions to it to serve the objectives of the rulers. An attack on minority Tamils swings the sentiments of the major community on to the government. It was similar to Hitler gaining greater momentum with his onslaught on the Jews. As important was much speculated personal financial gain through war related procurements.
End of the war in 2009 brought no respite or restraint in defence expenditure. It increased by tens of billions till it reached an increase by Rs 75 billion in 5 years equal to 50% more for 2014/15 than in 2009. Behind it lies the rulers’ thinking one reads as sinister. There has been no scaling down of the size of the military. It has been kept undiminished to serve its purpose of ruthless repression when the occasion demands. The time is all too near. The whole nation has become placid onlookers the way Italians swooned before Mussolini and the Spanish swayed around Franco. No different and no better.
Unite and Strengthen
The caption refers to ‘Peoples’ Force’ very advisedly. It connotes multiple composition, ethnic and religious. Welding together has to be done in earnest and consolidation maintained for long. With acute perception Dr. Johnson said “Patriotism is the last refuge of a scoundrel”. With equal validity it can be asserted that race and religion are the ultimate weapons in the same hands. Without inhibition they will be used, to beat up surging opposition. Throughout history such a strategy has been unleashed to divide and to weaken. From November to January, Sri Lanka will see it in full flush. Hence the compulsion to keep the movement compact, with hoops of iron till the mortal blow is delivered.
Decisive Street and Maidan
Between the General Election of 1956 and the Presidential Election of 2015, there stands a Yuga. Seen in bold relief is the collapse of standards, personal and political. In values of truth and honesty, in norms of integrity; intellectual and financial, in the great principle of honouring one’s word, where has the country gone? Are the so called leaders trusted for a moment either inland or out? Do our execrable lives match our own endless prating of our much exaggerated ancient civilization? How much of education or refinement can mere literacy imbue a nation with?
At this confluence of decline we are constrained to face an election and fight it out. There are quite a few having misgivings that it will be the last one. When horns are locked in mortal combat, the contest will not be on polished floors. For six weeks it will be worked out in the streets and maidans. Ferocious display of vocal power in the street and intemperate oratory on the maidan platform. In both, numbers it is supposed will speak for who the victor is.
A good beginning by JVP – 18 November 2014
In the contest for numerical show there is a built-in unevenness. The abuse and misuse of all the advantages of the state apparatus will tilt the balance. Yet the Opposition has the weight to more than counterbalance the lack lustre government personages. Any day the opposition will have a good array of popular personalities both glamorous, likeable and personable: CBK, Ranil, Sobitha Thero, AKD, SF, Karu J, Mangala and now Sarath N Silva. TNA will dominate the North and also share the Eastern platform with the Muslim leadership. Lively presentations by a galaxy will impress those present and their responses will influence the masses.
JVP and the Street
The JVP on the side of the opposition confers certain advantages. The population profile of the country has seen a considerable change in recent decades. Youth in the voting range is disproportionately huge and JVP’s voice resonates well with their frustrations and aspirations. The Opposition and the JVP embracing one another will make a difference. This bond it is hoped will grow in the next few months.
It is the writer’s firmly held view that this time around, it is not election results worked out in the office of the Election Commissioner, which will seat a Party in governance. It is mathematics scripted in the streets, not by the sinews of the brain but by muscles of the brawn that will determine the day. The JVP and the youth will be a decisive factor at the election and in its aftermath.