By Kumar David –
Do you want to cry for Sajith or curse his Samagi Jana Balavegaya (SJB); don’t cry for Sajith, he chose his allies and bears much responsibility for their treachery. Even worse, a month ago he appointed as National List MP an illiterate who attempted to teach Parliament Roman history declaring: “Antony said that he loved Caesar but his love for Rome was much more” and she alleged that “bloodstained” Anthony was involved in the assassination. Ignoramus! It was Marcus Junius Brutus in whose mouth the Bard put the words “Not that I loved Caesar less, but that I loved Rome more” – Act III, Scene 2.
Be that as it may, the point is that without the eight SJB traitors who backed 20A it would have fallen short of two-thirds (156 polled minus 8 SJB traitors would have been 148; two-thirds is 150). Gota-Mahinda did not secure the requisite two-thirds, rather they stole it by bribery and deception. In addition to the clown from Rome the seven others belonged to the Mano Ganesan, Bathiudeen and Rauff Hakeem outfits. I don’t know whether seven of the eight being Muslims (6) and Tamils (1) will have political consequences but the pay-outs must have been handsome. Their villainy, vapidity and venality reflect the poor judgement of Sajith, Mano, Badurdeen and Hakeem. Had the anti-SLPP voter swung 10 or 15 parliamentary seats from the SJB to the NPP-JVP, they, the masses, would have been better protected from repression and strife now unavoidable. Mobilisation would have been on a surer footing organisationally and in parliament.
Notwithstanding the setback and despite the Sajith-Mano-Rauff-Bathiudeen zoo, it is important to retain an alliance of the left, civil society and soft liberals; an “everybody is welcome” mobilisation. I know there are and always were “we alone can build the revolutionary party” sectarians in our midst; subduing them is another headache – cannon to left of us, cannon to right of us! This raises a point about leaderships and alliances. A global lesson of late 20-th and 21-st Century politics is that commitment to leaders and parties must be elastic, not set in stone. The LSSP, to which yours faithfully made a long-term commitment, had a useful shelf-life of 30 years from 1935 till 1965-66 when it succumbed to Sinhala racism. It needs good judgement to discern when to adjust alignment. While it is fickle to jump here and there like a jack-in-the-box, it is brain dead not to see when leaders are past their use-by date and to postpone fashioning new weapons fit for the day.
Regarding alliances, again judgement matters. To take an example I cannot emphasise too much that the “Single-Issue, Common-Candidate”(SI-CC) motif that unified the alliance to win the 2015 presidency was dead right. It was imperative to defeat Mahinda Rajapaksa’s attempt at a third-term; that is focus on SI was strategically perfect. The tactic to unify large sections required CC. SI-CC was a success but history never stops. [The Great War to end all wars did not stall history nor freeze out a Second World War]. As the story went our CC was a crack-pot, but had we suspected it there was no way to reverse the Ranil-Chandrika surprise and change candidate. The yahapalana government elected in 2015 has been judged a failure though not as abysmal as made out – 19A was a step forward despite its jinxes; that’s why 20A is deemed essential by aficionados of dictatorship. SI-CC served its purpose, but alliances are tactical and it is time to move on.
And where have we arrived? Sadly, the skies over the land of my birth are overcast; prognosis is unhappy. The people themselves handed a near two-thirds majority to those now marinating dictatorship. But even in bad times life goes on. Lanka must fight on with the wisdom of Sun Tze (The Art of War): “If you know yourself and you know your enemy, you can win”. To know ourselves is to understand a perilous future. To make amends for the transgression that oafish woman has done the Bard let me end with a few lines (not in sequence) from Mark Anthony’s soliloquy over Caesar’s body just before that greatest ever sales-pitch he imposed on his friends, Romans and countrymen.
A curse shall light upon the limbs of men;
Domestic fury and fierce civil strife
Blood and destruction shall be so in use
That mothers shall but smile when they behold
Their infants quarter’d with the hands of war.
(Caesar’s ghost) will cry ‘Havoc,’ and let slip the dogs of war
That this foul deed shall smell above the earth
With carrion men groaning for burial.
(Act III, Scene 1)
Poetic exuberance? Perhaps, but the treachery of those elected in August to oppose dictatorship, but bowed down before it in October is so foul a deed that it “smells above the earth”.