19 September, 2019

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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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  • 3
    0

    The equation from my Simple Arithmatic denotes the third force JVP with the alliance of 30 plus self thinking groups will be the ultimate winners.
    All the others are in alphabetical order here GR, KJ, MS, RW, except SR are playing political tricks. Playing back scratchings , so that when one of these creatures pips at the poll they are ready scrabbling for the 2nd in charge post, that’s becoming Primeminister .
    Thus the return of the Cycle of Crimes and the Burial of each other’s CRIMES.
    Remember they’re all thick as Thieves .
    No change folks if any of the above gets even one vote that’s voting for a CRIMINAL TO COVER UP THE Crimes and Swindle the country FOR NEXT 5 Years.
    Be warned.

  • 3
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    The equation from my Simple Arithmatic denotes the third force JVP with the alliance of 30 plus self thinking groups will be the ultimate winners.
    All the others are in alphabetical order here GR, KJ, MS, RW, except SP are playing political tricks. Playing back scratchings , so that when one of these creatures pips at the poll they are ready scrabbling for the 2nd in charge post, that’s becoming Primeminister .
    Thus the return of the Cycle of Crimes and the Burial of each other’s CRIMES.
    Remember they’re all thick as Thieves .
    No change folks if any of the above gets even one vote that’s voting for a CRIMINAL TO COVER UP THE Crimes and Swindle the country FOR NEXT 5 Years.
    Be warned.

  • 2
    4

    LOL…. What a crowd all the way to the Chinese Port City.

    Where did JVP Prince get them?
    I know the only Candidate who has put is hand up is Dr Ranil’s Deputy from Keselwatta.
    Sorry formerly from Kewlwatta , now a permanent resident of Magampura.

    Keselwatta kid apparently stitched up deal with the whole cabal of UNP Dalits and even the UNP Catholics in the Bible Belt after Easter.’
    KK has even got 90 % of the UNP Village Council members as well, according to the latest news from Colombo.
    So surely they wouldn’t have been among this Sea of Heads which has been like a shot of Viagra for our ageing Socialists..

    The Green bits BTW in the Sheds and the on the border along Galle Road must be Dr Ranil’s Elite, Anglican , Vellala and the new Ally Wahabi Faction..
    And the Colombo Municipal Council members.

  • 8
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    An excellent article Professor David
    I voted for the joker Ranil on the last occasion. This time I will give my vote to the JVP.

  • 4
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    Aiding and Abetting Criminals a Crime .
    Our sovereign nation had been ruled by Thieves and criminals for a decade or more. Its time for the people to wake up from their slumber or drunken stupor and vote for the right Politicians who can save this nation from our own criminals.

  • 3
    3

    Sinhalese will elect a just and decent leader for their country only if and when the country is divided giving separate lands to all the ethnic groups including the Sinhalese. until then, as in the past, they will keep electing the type of leaders that gouge one of their eyes as long as they promise to gouge both eyes of the Tamils.

  • 6
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    JVP will and should hold hands with the alternative camp.
    ..
    Then only they can easily become a great fire. Because the storm around is severe, hence a small fire won’t last. But the great fire will grow with the gushing wind of the storm.

  • 5
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    The enthusiasm of Kumar David is understandable. JVP is the closest party to his mind at this time! Learned Kumar David is not being pragmatic. We are in Sri Lanka. These are little storms in a tea cup!
    .
    I like JVP. But, I wouldn’t risk my future on it. It has taken 40 years for them to metamorphose in to who they are today, after their disastrous beginning. Have they turned a new page. No. They have skipped a page!

  • 5
    1

    Invite Nagananda Kodituwakku to be the Prime Ministerial Candidate for this Alliance!

  • 2
    5

    I got a headache reading this horribly written article! Doesn’t anyone at CT read these before posting online?!

    • 2
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      2ndclasscitizen:
      Would strongly urge replacing “2nd” with “3rd” in the interest of accuracy. Even if one doesn’t agree with Kumar David, he is certainly one of the best writers contributing to CT.
      Incidentally, even if your pseudonym is close to the truth, why don’t you put your name down so we know who the (self-styled) genius is that is writing this indescribable ….?

  • 6
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    “A political alternative has been born.”

    Yes it is about time, people are fed up with the old guard.

  • 2
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    I would welcome the birth of a credible third force in Sri Lanka politics. However, I am not yet convinced of JVP’s credentials as a ‘left democratic’ movement. It has far to go to convince the public that it is a ‘new left’ alternative, as has emerged in other parts of the globe. I would like to see the JVP making a stronger commitment to a mixed economy, environmental sustainability, gender equality and diversity before I give my vote to it. The JVP needs to ensure good quality state education (including prohibition of ragging in universities) and health services, while also allowing private education (including private universities) and health services to flourish. It has to promote an environmental policy, which strictly prohibits all forms of pollution (air, noise) and offers a convincing plan for minimising and disposing garbage, so that our land, waterways, ocean and food (especially rice, vegetables and fish, which are the mainstay of our diet) are not poisoned. Last but not least, I will never consider the JVP a ‘new left’ party until 50% of its central committee comprises women and at least 30% comprises representation from minority ethnic groups.

  • 1
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    SLPP had to present a Candidate. So, they proposed Gotabhaya. Ranil Lost in 2005, that is he had been the PM since 1994 until 2004. Ranil became generous and gave it to Sarah Fonseka and Maithripala in 2010 and 2015 respectively. In 2015, Ranil’s stars were good or the parliamentary procedures and their constitution were exceptionally corrupt. so even with 42 seats including his district, he became the Executive Prime minister. Everybody knows what Ranil’s Performance is. Ranil’s problem is he is doing the only job he knows. Two wealthy politicians who have foreign funding Mangala and Rajjitha (Bathiuddin is still weighing his options) invited only Sajith and Navin. Even Mangala avoided man from their camp, Karu Jayasuriya. so, NGO effort is in vain.
    They get help from super computers. I do not how you calculated it from. Is it the Abacus or the Calculator with just electrical power.
    IT is interesting to see what JVP is up to. Some people know that JVP has lot of jealousy from some other parties. JVP also does not give up. Those things do not come out.
    Only problem will be Maithripala sirisena has more opponents and that will be the wish of the Common Candidate project. That is to divide the sinhala majority and minorities standing with them.

  • 3
    1

    Great that the Third-Force is around finally in more voluminous numbers; the Socialist/Communist dream a distinct possibility – one that our country should have entered in the first place right after independence (and now only we go into some form of capitalism).
    *
    Unfortunately the Third-Force is also in alliance with Ranil. So, this means that Lankan oligarchs will be holding onto the money (like present-day China and Russia), and the rest of the Lankan M asses will be worker-drones for places like the USA. On top of that will be the merging with the Indian worker-mass, land-bridge and all. Ranil must be at all-time high thinking of the possibilities. (Hope Sajith and Karu are of a softer capitalism outlook).
    *
    Best would have been of course if the Third-Force is affianced with the Gota-faction….there’ll be oligarchs there too, but no chance of the India-merge and the land-bridge. Culture will be secured.
    *
    Yet, chipping away 20% from the 71% SB votes of Gota’s is going to be a tough call for Sajith (Gota’s irregularities and all). And once the polity realizes the jaggedness of the worker-drone scenario, they will stop short…..no chance of second-preference tallying and things like that….that’s when the gilmarts come in.

    • 0
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      But if the Third-Forces comes up without latching itself to anyone else, that would be marvelous. Pure Socialism/Communism.

  • 0
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    The JVP has proved to be a major disappointment over the last two decades . They have been bystanders in the main , permitting ruling governments to mismanage , rob and plunder at will .
    They can muster about 150,000 die hard supporters for their meetings , but their vote base has not seen any significant growth despite millions of citizens being unhappy with the status quo – a sad indictment on the JVP which is perceived to be the ‘third force’ in the Sri Lankan political arena.

  • 1
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    Dear Professor
    With all the know how and in-depth knowledge expertise in world afire, monetary ,social humanitarian to Trump bashing I expect you to put your name forward as leader this time around. Just been with a crowd is not much of a achievement unless you with the people Tienanmen square or Hong Kong or similar event.Don’t deprive the Sri Lankan’s the excellent choice to elect you as a leader if you don’t come forward and tragedy that will be.
    Unless you are only better at criticizing others who rightly or wrongly have the courage to put them self forward.
    As I mention numerous times before, world is full of critics specially intellectuals now Sri Lanka need doer’s. If you not ready to stand up you will go down in the annals of history as a another “Intellectual yet a idiot”

  • 3
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    I was speachless when a poor man looking over me at many cheeps toys say to himself , I wish I can buy some imported cheese and apples for my son as cheap as this.
    Its really sad , we allow not only garbage to be imported but various other useless junk of no use to the poor and we do not have a system like in Singapore where the low income people get a special discount in the supermarket one similar to our Sathosa.
    No politician has todate a manisfeto that can trully provide everyone an equal opportunity .

    Free trade should not turn our country into a dump yard .

    The quantiy , quality , consumer demand and a price regulatry system must be strictly imposed on all imports before its tolate.

    Even a party like JVP has no manisfesto that details how its going to eradicate all the problems , they do not have any solution to developments and racial harmony .

    They only wanted to incresse their voter bank by saying a few flowery words to get the votes of those who suffer certain bigotry and of their relatives, What about racism ? not a word..

  • 1
    1

    Similar optimistic forecasts followed the 1963 United Left Front May Day demonstration.
    /
    We all know what happened to that Front by sticking to the advice of strategists like you!
    /
    So Gota and others have nothing to fear.

  • 5
    0

    Gota: I will not let anyone mess with the soverignity of this country

    Port City, Shangri-La…

    Gota: I gave up my American citizenship

    Gota’s son and family…

    Meanwhile most Sinhalese belive that this man will make them kings and queens… Yeah as long as Beijing has those deep pockets, the eternal Samurdhi beggers can go on credit like they always do

  • 4
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    Kumar,
    I was too young to know politics in 1963 but in 1970, I was one of the undergrad from the Colombo Uni who invaded the parliament – the one only such incident in SL Parliameentary history ever in SL – also with a lot of hopes of building forming a socialist Gvt representing interests of the mass. Our work then helped to form what many believed to be a grand dream of forming left-wing socialist Gvt becoming true for the first time in SL history. The euphoria was was so overflowing that, apart from chasing away “unfriendly” bureaucrats from offices and the effort to burn down the Lake House by Anil Munasinghe led Uni students (Anil came to the university to gather student support claiming that LSSP has started its Marxist revolution). posters began to pop up all over demanding to nationalize private industries.

    But, it didn’t take too long for us to realize the socialism was nothing but a dream and that the whole country is in a rude awakening. After the very first budget read out by NM, everybody had to end up in queues in the wee hours of the day buy bread while shortage of commodity items shot up prices through the roof. Janatha Committees that were suppose to be local administrative bodies became centers of bribes while racks of local shops became empty. The reality is exactly the same as today: Cutting down the budget deficit by limiting imports!

    ’71 JVP led insurgency had nothing to with this. As a matter of fact, JVP was so stupid to organize what they called “the true Marxist revolution” when the then Gvt was still having the “honeymoon”. Even though “liberals” like us who wanted a leftists Gvt didn’t lose lives, JVP cadres did in thousands while those who survived to be “rehabilitated” lost their future aspirations. And, that has been the story of all Marxist revolutions so far throughout the world.

    • 4
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      D.P.

      Good narrative of the JVP and the Left in the 70’s.

      The core problem with Marxism is that, it brings the productivity of the individual to the mean productivity of the populace, as there is a disconnect between productivity and compensation. As a result, the individual economic incentives are low.

      Individuals have to be motivated by ideology. The highly productive individuals are not always motivated by ideology.The people at the low end of the productivity enjoy because they are compensated for more than their productivity.

      In capitalism, market forces impact compensation and productivity. Market forces are good for highly productive individuals and entrepreneurs, because they know that they can keep most of what they produce.

      Market forces are not good for those individuals with low productivity or with skills not in demand.

      The Scandinavian countries have a capitalist economy with “imposed” Marxisam or socialism by taxation, while allowing highly productive individuals to thrive, and are highly taxed, that “pays” for the shortfall of the low productive individuals.

      In the end, it is the economic productivity that pays for it all, despite all the claims of the theologians, monks, Priests, Ulama, Mullahs and politicians.

      Did JVP and left know that in the past? Does JVP and the New Left know that now?

      The ancient Greeks and The Church thought that the Sun goes around the Earth. Now most know that the Earth rotates and orbits the Sun, so that the Sun can rise from the East.

      • 1
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        Amarasiri,
        As I have pointed out many times, Marxism is a wrong political economic theory. Despite the proud claim by Marxists, it is not even a materialistic theory; for, any theory based on value judgement doesn’t qualify to be so.

        The only good aspect in Marxism is the idea of social justice. But, as you have pointed out with the example of Nordic countries, social justice can be achieved by meaningful taxation withing democratic systems.

    • 1
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      continued….
      I don’t think that that there are that many of Kumar David’s generation still left to feel rejuvenated enough to attend a political rally headed mostly by the JVP. Most gave up left politics altogether while some others went on their own ways while still holding on to their dedication to core ideal of just society.

      In my case, I decided to understand what the Marxism is all about. And, after a rigorous reading on how Marx developed the theory, I was shocked to learn that it is a very incomplete & false theory formulated during the fledgling stage of the modern science based on equally wrong Hegelian model on progress of knowledge. The “labor theory of value (LTV) which is the foundation of the whole edifice of Marxism, is taught today only as a Marxist after-thought.

      As I mentioned above, history has shown so vividly, how grand movements that promised to liberate the “oppressed” turned out to be even bigger curse. Why not learn from our own historical mistakes if that what the learning means? As George Santayana, the Spanish historian & philosopher, said, “Those who fail to learn from past mistakes will be condemned to repeat them”. With this note, all I can wish for Kumar David is to have many more opportunities to keep attending “red” rallies like the ones he has attended since 1963; for, I guarantee that there will be many more coming as long as democracy stays alive in SL!

      • 2
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        D. P. ,

        ” As George Santayana, the Spanish historian & philosopher, said, “Those who fail to learn from past mistakes will be condemned to repeat them””

        The core problem with Marxism is that, it brings the productivity of the individual to the mean productivity of the populace, as there is a disconnect between productivity and compensation. As a result, the individual economic incentives are low.

        The Soviet Union did the Marxist -Socialism experiment from 1917 to 1990, but in the end it was the economic productivity that was the limitation.

        Many other examples are Eastern Europe, Cuba, Vietnam etc. China has managed to make the transition with a combination of dictatorship, state control, capitalism and entrepreneurship.

        “Those who fail to learn from past mistakes will be condemned to repeat them””-
        Do the Sri Lankans have the IQ needed (mean IQ 79) to learn from the past mistakes of others as well as the Sri Lankans?

        The data since independence in 1948 indicate otherwise. On the other hand, Singapore , mean IQ 108 , is a different story.

  • 0
    0

    “The big hurdle is that Tamils and Muslims to a man will not vote for him ….. “
    This is a popular preconceived notion that many or all who do not favour a ‘Gota Presidency’ would like to believe is the actual case.

    A recent opinion poll by a team from Peradeniya University published in a popular website reveals that :
    37% of Estate Tamils
    20% of Tamils in the Northern & Eastern Provinces
    31% of Muslims in the Northern & Eastern Provinces
    34% of Muslims in other Provinces
    have indicated a preference for GR over SP and AKD.

    Naturally, doubts may be expressed regarding the reliability of these results, especially by hardcore naysayers.
    But the fact remains that there is a small but significant level of support for GR among the minorities. It is definitely not zero.

  • 1
    0

    What is the point of a 3 rd force?

    A government should be strong and united
    with sound policies.

    And a strong team should be in place to implement the policies.

    There should be discipline within the ruling party and the opposition.

    Bipartisan agreement should not be considered as something bad.

    There should be national consensus regarding significant issues related to national security and economy.

    If they are corrupt at the top and if the leadership is encouraging corruption at the bottom.

    The net result will be zero or negative.

    The JVP has lost its potency as a significant political force supporting the cause of the working class.

    So I don’t see any significant contribution to the general Sri Lankan populace in terms to workers rights and citizens democratic rights by the JVP at this point in time.

  • 2
    2

    Kumar David

    You were the architect of one issue presidential candidate in 2014.
    Now look what Sirisena the hopper has got the country into.

    It seems that you are again reviving the idea of “one issue candidate”?

    AKD is silent on many issues. If he is seriously considering his candidacy then he has to deal with many of those issues. Being a Southern politician he may find it difficult open up issues that would not be conducive to maintaining his support base which has been shrinking over many years. He won’t be the new broom that is expected to improve sweeping.

    Did he express his reservation about the appointment of an alleged war criminal as the Army Chief?

    By the way as a layman I think his candidacy is aimed at spoiling the chances of UNP candidate being elected as president. This may revive old love affair between SLFP/SLPP and JVP, or Mahinda and AKD, old Southern Comfort.

  • 4
    0

    JVP is making a political revolution in Sri Lanka. Public are no more fools in politics.

  • 6
    0

    Older voters may have misgivings about the JVP because of 1971 & 1988. But the Millennials and Generation Z with the largest share of the voting eligible population are seeing the JVP in a different light. They see the JVP as the only viable alternative in the current perilous situation in the country due to 70 years of fake drama of political rivalry between 2 sets of abusers and rogues calling themselves the UNP and SLFP. As a result AKD is likely to get a sizable percentage of the vote, paving the way for the JVP to emerge as the leading contender for power in 2025.

  • 5
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    JVP transformed itself in to a mass following political party ….where LTTE failed.

  • 1
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    Prof Kumar David

    ” A political alternative has been born ” If so what are the policies, plan of actions and future programmes of this new movement? How do they differ from others? Will they bring a secular state or bend before monks and carry out their instructions disregarding the voters, just like others ? Have they drafted a manifesto ? What is their stand on Tamils’ national question ? What are your structures and the agreed national programme ? You haven’t revealed any of these yet you welcome this thirdforce. Sir, don’t you realise that your article is incomplete and no use for the readers.

    • 3
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      Peacelover
      Good point but any talk of minorities at this juncture would be like pouring fuel over fire.
      Age old nitty gritty questions for Srilanka and the Srilankan voters which have destroyed our nation and prevented from moving forward is nothing else other than the thoughts of sharing, sharing this beautiful land with the rightful minority owners as well.
      Narrow minded selfishness instilled by the self serving religious leaders and the Politicians have been rooted to the core.
      Now whether they’re Educated ( on certificates) or Uneducated street fighting morons all thinks alike.
      These thoughts are of no different from the thoughts of “Frogs in Wells”
      The kind of Propaganda instilled in each Racists veins , then there’s no hope for SL.

      While the scroungers begging for scraps from the super powers some chest beating racists frogs from the wells shouting sovereignty sovereignty ect ect.
      Nothing else to beat about, but still needs plenty of Begging Bowls to Beg from the same super powers they try to show their chest beating.
      Shame but that’s the truth because they need to fill their own Pots of gold for their kiths and kins.
      Never mind about the country and its progress the attitude is hell with it and follow the Pseudo religion and its egoistic politicians not exactly follow the noble Lord Buddhas teachings ?
      Shame again. It’s like wanting to “Puke” on all of them.

  • 1
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    Left wingers are emerging in SriLanka as an alternative force. They need strategy and policy to help voters. Quick action with a plan likely to attract rational voters. Best wishes, lots of luck.

  • 5
    3

    The main threat to this country is Buddhist Sinhala Fundamentalism and its propaganda for Sinhala only, Buddhist only country with anti-Indian, anti-western slogan. SLPP (Mahinda Family) is a rebirth of Buddhist Sinhala Fundamentalism. Majority of Buddhist Sinhala believes their propaganda blindly without raising any questions and any common sense. It is a big challenge for this new front to educate that enable them to understand the truth and change their mind.
    The track record of JVP regarding the Tamils and Muslims are still very poor and if you want to get their support you cannot go alone with the corruption propaganda (that is not a problem within Tamil politics) but you have to convince them that their rights are well looked after and the proper devolution of power policies to ensure their security.
    Srilanka destroyed day by day by racism and fundamentalism since 1948. JVP was part of that in the past. Have they changed?

  • 6
    3

    How do you say JVP is corruption free. They also sell vehicle permits? Also why don’t they go against nefarious activities in parliament, for instance a meal worth more than LKR 3000 is sold at LKR 150 at the expense of poor people of this country,Waste LKR 5M a day in parliament without any significant policy discussions?

    • 1
      1

      I agree with Chams

      They have been like pussycats in Parliament

      They have not questioned and countered corruption in the Parliament and in Government as expected.

      As per mandate given to them by the public.

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