16 April, 2024

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The Driving Forces Behind NPP’s Popularity

By Vipula Wanigasekera

Dr. Vipula Wanigasekera

In Sri Lankan politics, it was simply a contest between the SJB and NPP in the forthcoming elections. Then something was happening in the last 6 months or so where more and more public support was tilting towards NPP. Amidst soaring living costs, widespread corruption, and a growing disillusionment with traditional politics, the NPP’s popularity has surged, propelled by a grassroots campaign and a commitment to empower women. Here are some thoughts on the factors fueling this remarkable rise in prominence of NPP at it stands today

Economic Desperation: Sri Lanka is at a critical juncture of economic hardship, where the majority grapples with daily struggles while a privileged minority thrives in opulence. This stark wealth gap has ignited a fervent desire for change among the populace, driving them towards the NPP’s message of economic reform and social equity.

Corruption Epidemic: The pervasive culture of corruption and mismanagement has corroded public trust in established institutions including the Health Authorities responsible for saving lives!!. In response, the NPP emerges as a beacon of hope, promising to institute sweeping reforms to root out corruption and restore accountability, resonating deeply with citizens seeking integrity in governance.

Declining quality of politicians: The deterioration of political integrity and competence has left citizens disheartened and yearning for alternatives. The NPP’s emergence as a credible political force offers a refreshing prospect of stability and effective governance, attracting support from those weary of traditional politics. The team they took to India shows this integrity and quality while Sri Lankans had seen in the past plane loads of jaunts taken by fellow MPs who have nothing to do with the official delegation.

Debt Burden: Sri Lanka’s mounting foreign debt, particularly to major global powers, looms as a formidable threat to economic stability. The NPP’s articulated strategies to address this crisis resonate strongly with the populace, instilling optimism and confidence in the party’s ability to navigate the complex financial challenges ahead. Though the future cannot be fully visualized, there is some hope for resolutions.

Futility of Ultranationalist Sentiments: Exploitation of ultranationalist sentiments in patriotism and Buddhist extremism had led to tumultuous consequences in Sri Lanka in the past. Citizens are increasingly cognizant of the dangers posed by divisive politics and religions are gravitating towards rational and inclusive governance. The NPP’s stance against extremism positions them favorably as a pragmatic alternative to divisive rhetoric as majority of people are no stronger economically or otherwise to support such extremism unless there are personal gratifications.

Rule of Law Erosion: Concerns over the erosion of the rule of law and the emergence of quasi-mafia-style governance have heightened anxieties among citizens. The NPP’s pledge to uphold law and order resonates strongly with those yearning for a secure and just society, fostering trust and support for the party’s agenda. Easier said than done, one might say. At least the NPP expressly says this while the others keep mum on this particular subject.

Social Media Influence: The proliferation of social media has democratized information dissemination, providing a platform for voices to be heard. Despite attempts at censorship using recently passed online safety act, the NPP’s message cuts through the digital noise, reaching out to digitally savvy segments and the youth thus bolstering confidence in its leadership and vision.

Rhetorical Skills and Rational Discourse: The attractive rhetoric and rational arguments, sometimes with humour, presented by NPP members in speeches and debates have garnered increasing support for the political alliance. Their ability to articulate coherent policies and engage in constructive discourse attracts individuals more than ever before at a time life is going from bad to worse in Sri Lanka.

Prominence for Women: The NPP’s commitment to women’s empowerment is evident in its campaigns, reflecting a dedication to inclusivity and gender equality. This emphasis on women’s representation not only appeals to a diverse demographic but also signals a progressive vision for the future of Sri Lankan politics under the NPP’s leadership. The example is well set with Harini who may well be NPP’s PM should they succeed this time.

International Recognition: NPP’s meeting with US Envoy, Visit to India, as well as visits to other countries to make the Sri Lankan overseas aware of their future plans had placed them well from the eyes of international community watching the progress in Sri Lanka. A visit to China will enhance this notion, that could happen anytime from now. After all Chinese want their money back and conditions laid upheld.

By and large, taking the bull by the horn through addressing key issues, the NPP has captured the imagination of the population, at least among a sizable portion, offering a compelling vision and strategies. That said, it is still questionable if all the Sri Lankans are willing to go through such transformation which requires change in attitudes and mind set as well as altruism beyond traditions and rituals being practiced. Nonetheless, better late than never they say, in the name of the future generation of Sri Lanka.

*The writer is former Diplomat, Tourism Official, Academic and Wellness Practitioner

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Latest comments

  • 20
    2

    I was in conversation with my Cardiologist. He, despite his hectic routine, shocked me with an unusual and rather unexpected political talk. Unless you have a strong middle class a nation is bound to fail!

    • 11
      1

      Nathan

      “Unless you have a strong middle class a nation is bound to fail!”

      Is that why S W R D Banda’s Pancha Maha Balavegaya (Sangha, Veda, Guru, Govi, Kamkaru) failed?

      • 7
        1

        Native Vedda,
        Are you challenging me or my Cardiologist?!

        • 10
          1

          Nathan

          “Are you challenging me or my Cardiologist?!”

          No I will never do that.
          Have you ever noticed me challenging anyone in this forum?
          Never.

          My question is related to S W R D Banda’s racially motivated destruction of the nation. I thought you would have experienced the pain.

          • 9
            1

            I have experienced. But, my pain was the Mrs!

            • 4
              1

              “Unless you have a strong middle class a nation is bound to fail!”

              In Lanka …… the middle-class is no longer middle-class and has got filthy rich ……. through political patronage and racketeering.

              No wonder …… the Native-SM-OC-Ramona gang, the forum muscle ……. support the Mahinda led Ranil gang!

              Gangs have taken over Lanka!!

              I’m with Kosgoda Suji.

              • 1
                0

                Yeah, right Nimal! 🙄
                Anyway, the current middle class is of a far lower monetary level to the one you are speaking about.

            • 3
              0

              nathan
              what about the pain given by JRJ due to the 83 riots.no experience of that?

  • 16
    1

    More important is who is responsible for the negative factors identified by the author. The Supreme Court has ascribed responsibility for our economic desperation to MR and his brother Gota. Bribery was initiated largely by Chandrika and followed by MR and Gota. Decline in quality of politicians began with Solomon West Ridgway who ushered in the era of the “common man” meaning common crooks as politicians. The same moron started the ethnic crisis. The issue is whether the NPP has distanced itself sufficiently from these factors. There is evidence to believe that it has done so,, though its ethnic stance is not too clear. Anura KD was seen running with the tray of flowers to the Mahanayakes. Hope this is a one time thing.

    • 12
      1

      Cicero,

      “Bribery was initiated largely by Chandrika and followed by MR and Gota.”
      It was already there under Premadasa/JRJ/Srima. Perhaps those who followed took it to a higher level. JRJ’s opening to the West might have started more corruption as well. Weren’t there a lot of allegations against Gamini Dissanayake and the money flowing to him like the Mahaweli, whose development he was in charge of as a cabinet minister? And when did the practice of buying off MPs to cross over for cash or under threats start?

      • 9
        2

        Agnos

        “It was already there under Premadasa/JRJ/Srima.”

        Are you sure about SriMao?
        SJ will get offended.

  • 4
    7

    Nicely written, concise, but to the point, each subheading addressing if not the strengths of NPP, the weaknesses of the existing, for want of a better word, “system”.
    .
    And a conclusion that sums it all up:
    .
    “By and large, taking the bull by the horn through addressing key issues, the NPP has captured the imagination of the population, at least among a sizable portion, offering a compelling vision and strategies. That said, it is still questionable if all the Sri Lankans are willing to go through such transformation which requires change in attitudes and mind set as well as altruism beyond traditions and rituals being practiced. Nonetheless, better late than never they say, in the name of the future generation of Sri Lanka.

  • 14
    1

    Author:
    “Sri Lanka’s mounting foreign debt, particularly to major global powers, looms as a formidable threat to economic stability. The NPP’s articulated strategies to address this crisis resonate strongly with the populace, instilling optimism and confidence in the party’s ability to navigate the complex financial challenges ahead.”

    Would the author or some one else care to enlighten me on what these “articulated strategies” of NPP are?

  • 5
    1

    Don’t we have to postpone all the discussions relating to the NPP, because of the court case filed by Nagananda Kodothuwakku, challenging the recognition of this organization as a political party by the Election Commission? In his motion filed before the Supreme Court, he states that the recognition of NPP as a political party is against the Constitution and therefore the registration of NPP must be declared null and void. The SC has decided to take up this motion of Nagananda Kodithuwakku for arguments on March 4th.

    As usual, Nagananda K, having filed this motion in the SC, held a media briefing and supported his case and there was a scathing attack on NPP and its leader AKD. He always does this after filing a court case, thus creating a stage to argue his case in public.

    I will wait for the decision of the SC to discuss the existence of the NPP to nominate candidates for any election.

  • 12
    3

    “The NPP’s stance against extremism positions them favorably as a pragmatic alternative to divisive rhetoric as majority of people are no stronger economically or otherwise to support such extremism unless there are personal gratifications.”
    Really? Where is the evidence? Even the JVP has a Bhikku Front.
    I think the JVP’s approach is different, and very clever. It can preach women’s empowerment using the NPP.
    It can claim to be supporting Buddhism using the Bhikku Front.
    It can be creating campus mayhem with its “student ” unions.
    Its trade unions can take stands different from the leadership.
    AKD can claim that he isn’t responsible for what the above groups do.

    • 9
      3

      OC,

      JVP Bikkhu Fronts are the normal non-Mahavamsa Lankan Buddhist priests who directly see and understand the sufferings of the people. NPP Women Fronts are the non-US-feminist traditional Lankan women who have seen their families suffer for generations.
      Student Unions are the students and their activists who have seen their parents suffering with grinding poverty for generations. Trade Unions are workers who have direct access to the horrendously unfair monetary practices in the workfront.
      AKD and JVP proudly take responsibility for all the Lankan people they have given courage to.

  • 6
    2

    Well declared set of statements! From the Dystopia into the Light.
    Thanks VW!

  • 1
    0

    nothing is driving the people towards the NPP more than the fact that they are fed up with old wine in new bottles and rightly so.Also like in western countries more women should enter parliament to wake up these old codgers who go and have a nap in it.grope at the saree,and eat the subsidised food.

    • 0
      0

      Was ‘gawk’ the word you intended to use…? 🤔

      • 0
        0

        ruchira

        nope. tugging at the saree is a common pastime of those who can’t get it up.

  • 2
    1

    IT IS VERY POPULAR WORDS BY JVP/NPP TO TO SAY THAT THEY WILL ERADICATE CORRUPTION.BUY JVP/NPP SHOULD ALWAYS KEEP IN MIND THAT THEY HAVE TO WORK WITH THE SAME GOVERNMENT SERVANTS,POLICE AND ARMED FORCES WHO ARE ALL ADDICTED TO BRIBERY AND CORRUPTION.
    NEXT BRINGING DOWN COST OF LIVING.PEOPLE ARE VERY DESPERATE AND EXPECT JVP/NPP TO SHOW RESULTS AS SOON AS THEY COMES TO POWER.AT THE CURRENT STATE OF ECONOMY CAN THEY SHOW RESULTS,NO IT MAY TAKE 2-3 YEARS TO RECOVER AND BRING COST LIVING DOWN.TO DO THIS EITHER INDIA,AMERICA,IMF OR WORLD BANK HELP WILL BE NECESSARY.ONCE THEY ATTEMPT TO GO TO ANY THESE PLACES FOR HELP AS USUAL MAHANAYAKS AND OTHER DEFEATED FORCES AND PARTY SHOULD BE BROUGHT UNDER CONTROL.CAN THEY DO IT WITH WITH SUPPORT OF THE SAME ARMED FORCES.
    NEXT-TAMIL QUESTION CAN THEY AT LEAST IMPLEMENT 13TH AMENDMENT AND TO DO THIS THEY NEED THE SUPPORT OF YELLOW ROB WHO WILL NEVER AGREE.WHAT WILL HAPPEN TO ALL THESE PROMISES?WE HAVE TO WAIT AND SEE?

    • 0
      0

      paragon

      we can’t judge them when they have not been given a chance to do the job.people may feel that even if they only partially fulfill it it is okay .However i feel fonseka should be given a chance just like gota gave him for the armed forces though mahinda did not want him.What have got to lose by giving fonseka a chance to do the job.

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