24 October, 2020

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The Birth Of A Movement

By Kumar David

Prof. Kumar David

I marched in the 1963 United Left Front May Day demonstration and was at the Galle Face rally jointly chaired by NM, Dr Wicks and Philip. I was also at the 18 August 2019 Galle Face rally which launched the national People’s Power movement and named its presidential candidate. The latter drew about 150,000 people and was comparable in size. A political alternative has been born. More than 40 years after the 1977 election debacle left in tatters, finally a radical left-democratic option and mobilisation has emerged. This is not a bunch put together to prop up a JVP presidential candidate; it is an alliance of 30 self-thinking groups which have wholeheartedly thrown themselves into the task of building a radical, left-democratic third-force, untainted by corruption, as an alternative to the rotten two-party (UNP, SLFP/SLPP) farce. We are on the move; the structure has been formed and a national programme agreed at the broad level; now the task of fleshing it out with details and strategies.  

Received wisdom assiduously cultivate by the media is that both candidate-Gota and crown-prince Sajith have strong electoral positions. Their sponsors and promoters argue that their champion is a sure winner. The more I look at depth the more convinced I am that neither is true. Neither Sajith nor Gota will secure the requisite 50%+1 to circumvent second-choice counting. Gota is strong only in the Sinhala-Buddhist petty-bourgeois belt South and West of Colombo and the South coast. To draw out the village vote in the hinterland, the traditional blue base he is dependent on Mahinda and the old guard with whom he has not intermingled or interacted. As Defence Secretary he was an outsider not a true party man. The military ex-brass, his political Pretorian guard, could be a barrier between him and the true-blues.

Gota’s dual-nationality complication remains murky. His spokesmen avoid full-frontal disclosure. Fraud cases in domestic courts and murder, torture and human rights violation cases in American courts create more tension. The challenge on dual-nationality will be after nomination when someone goes to court; the Election’s Commission accepts nominations at face value. These are only complications. The big hurdle is that Tamils and Muslims to a man will not vote for him, and many Catholics, despite Malcolm Ranjit’s pro-Rajapaksa prancing, will avoid him. This leaves the near superhuman task of winning 50% from the remaining 70% if he is to be elected prior to second-preference tallying. 50/70 is 0.71, so he needs 71% of the Sinhala-Buddhist vote. I don’t see where my arithmetic is wrong so Gota has an impossible hill to climb, sans second-preference counting.

The popular notion is that Sajith is popular in the rural and suburban areas of the country. A Daily Mirror piece (‘Choosing Right Candidate for UNP’) by S. Samarasinghe is an eye-opener. 

The crux is that: (a) While Sajith is popular in the UNP base, his performance in pulling votes from outside the UNP has been appalling. In Hambantota a 40% UNP poll in 2001 declined to 29% in 2010, 10 years after Sajith became an MP. In the 2015 General Election, which the UNF won, Sajith managed to lose Hambantota District (HD) as organiser and polled fewer personal votes than Namal Rajapaksa. In the 2018 LG elections the Sajith-led UNP polled only 25.5% in HD. 

It is not my concern whether charmless-Ranil, clueless-Sajith or Janus-faced Karu is nominated. This brings me to my punch line. This time, for the first time, the game will go to second-preference tallying. If the third-force polls just 10% (all over the world they are doing much better), then if one of the main candidates is to secure more than 50% first-preferences the other will have to be pushed to below 40%. This is a very unlikely; too large a gap. A more rational early hypothesis at this time is that Gota and R-S-or-K will both poll in the mid-40s. Then the second-preferences of third-force voters will be the cliff-hanger. 

But far more important than election arithmetic is that like elsewhere in the world the third-force has emerged as a credible fighting force. Gota, Sajith or Ranil, in the coming years any right-wing regime will swing to ever greater use of repression, probably in that order of brutality. This is where the mobilisation of a third force is an indispensable safeguard on its road to becoming the alternative.

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    It is questionable to make a parallel between the recent Galle Face rally of the JVP and the United Left rally in May 1963, except perhaps in terms of crowds or mass enthusiasm. Unfortunately that 1963 rally, at the leadership level, was not the birth of a new movement, but the last stages of a previous glorious movement. Perhaps it was not evident to some who marched and attended the rally. I was at the age of 17+ attended as a candidate member of the LSSP (Moratuwella branch) and already was a dissident to the intentions of the leaders. Disintegration already was there at the rally. Although Bala addressed the rally from the stage, he came and addressed us after that. I remember Robert Gunawardena and Shanmugathasan addressing their respective followers at the same venue, but separately. I hope that the JVP or the ‘front of 30 self-thinking groups,’ whoever they are would not have the same seeds of disintegration. It is also difficult for me to consider the recent JVP rally or AKD’s presidential candidacy as the ‘birth of a new movement.’ The JVP appears to continue their policies of course with some positive changes. It can be an opportunity for those who are fed up with the two main camps to mark a protest vote. The JVP’s future course of actions are still to be carefully watched and assessed.

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    Comment by Dr Laksiri Fernando
    David Kumar the view of JVP is not born by Galle Face Green.It is end of beginning. He (David ) has miscalculated and misreading of political history of development of Island 71 years of all political trends and developments of political parties and classes.
    There are certain features of LEFT politics an Island has some merits points as whole .
    Well, side and done JVP was born out of anarchism of political terrorism .
    Undoubtedly that JVP had been supposed to be Replace of decline of Reformist(LSSP) or Revisionist (SLCP) of LEFT political vacuum by socialism of Marxism-Leninism .That an ideology was NOT there, they instated of that JVP produce by anarchism in deeds of by Terrorism.

    Therefor politics of terrorism is more or less that politics of different mode of bourgeoisie tendencies.
    Currently JVP is with policies of that UNP political agenda of “Good Governance” and ‘ Rule of Law ” cohabitation set of policies since 15/1/8 promoted by USA,.
    Previously JVP was with other national bourgeoisie of moribund SLFP of led CBK leadership of political federalism .

    David of Kumar has not taken into account by after see whole picture and practices JVP at from 1965 May.
    Over more than 50 years that JVP political terrorism he omitted by intentionally . That is NOT misshape, It is political tragedy of David not that OLD Days .

    After seeing crowed he lost all his past of LSSP members or that his so called Uninterrupted Revolution of by Trostkism has come end of JVP journey of terrorism.

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    Once again the Professor and his Commie pals want you to elect them so they can turn Sri Lanka into a Communist hellhole!
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    They will be at the top (they are the self appointed ‘Elites’) and YOU will will be at the bottom while they tell you what to do/what to think and who to vote for.
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    Venezuela anyone?
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    “It’s a big club – and you’re not in it” – George Carlin.
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    The Professor and his Commie pals are extremely dangerous people. I don’t believe they believe in Democracy/Freedom of Speech or Capitalism. Make sure these people never come to power.
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    The best thing to do is give these people ‘The Finger” at the ballot box.

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    Even with the very few members that the JVP has in the present parliament, they have been able to make a significant impact. They have spoken fearlessly and with clarity on most issues that have arisen in a manner that knowledgeable individuals can agree with. Although this left front cannot aspire to win the presidential election, let us hope that they will be able to demonstrate a sufficient showing to influence voters to vote for them at the parliamentary elections – where the true power will reside under the 19th amendment.

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    Dear UKCitizen,
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    You are a nasty kettle of fish, aren’t you, giving us all the “The (middle) Finger” gesture, etc? If you have abandoned Sri Lanka stay where you are. So just because you have heard that Stalin was a mass murderer and Mao starved millions, in the name of Marx, you call other decent people “Commies”
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    No, unlike Professor David, I’ve not studied Marx, but I have remained in Sri Lanka, and done what I could to further peace and unity here. There was a time when many racists imagined that I was a Tamil masquerading as a Sinhalese.
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    I’m certainly no Communist, but I think of Communism as Christianity without God. If you throw Hugo Chavez at me, I will throw Generals Franco, Pinochet, Hitler and Mussolini at you. People like me don’t want a mass murderer like Gota ruling us. You will give me neither Democracy nor Freedom of Speech. I have nothing ideologically against Capitalism, but I can’t help feeling that you will be all for Unbridled Capitalism like Donald Trump and Jeffrey Epstein. I’m grateful to Professor David for trying to educate us through free speech, which both major parties are trying their darnedest to suppress. I don’t intend following the Professor’s advice to the letter. I don’t think that he’s going to be rude to me just for that reason.
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    Since I’m not a Marxist, I’m not in a position to tell you all the places where “Communism” was humane.
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    Study this man’s life. You probably never knew that he was a Marxist. Had you supported him, when he needed that support, the world today would be a much better place.
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    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mikhail_Gorbachev
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    tbc

    • 0
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      This comment was removed by a moderator because it didn’t abide by our Comment policy.For more detail see our Comment policy https://www.colombotelegraph.com/index.php/comments-policy-2

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      @Sinhala_Man
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      Just to clarify – I am talking about a metaphorical “Finger” ( the ballot ). It’s not literal.
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      Replacing one group of self appointed “Elites” with another is not a solution imho.
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      Communism/Socialism has failed everywhere because it simply does not work – look at Venezuela as the most recent example.

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