26 May, 2022

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The Kerala Way Or The AKD Way?

By Dayan Jayatilleka

Dr. Dayan Jayatilleka

If the JVPNPP sincerely wishes to present itself as a serious alternative it should model its strategy on that of the Communist Party of India (Marxist) in Kerala. Kerala is governed by the Left Democratic Front, more formally the Left & Democratic Front, led by the Communist Party of India (Marxist) and consisting of seven parties, not all of which are leftist.

The bedrock of the LDF is the alliance of the Communist Party of India (Marxist) and the Communist Party of India, i.e., the CPI-M and the CPI.

My formation having been what is described in the USA as the “Old New Left”, I perceive the main failure of the Lankan Left for the past 73 years as being—and having been–in its relationships, i.e., its relationships within the left (with other left parties and groupings), and the relationship with parties not of the left, broadly of the center.

Put it differently, the abiding weakness has been in the intra-left relationships and inter-party relationships.

If one wishes to use more theoretical terminology, one can identify the historical-structural failure of the Lankan left in the domain of alliances, partnership, united fronts and blocs.

Left Lessons

In their anxiety to avoid one mistake of the old Left, the contemporary Left is making many mistakes which the Old Left made; mistakes of commission and omission. It is also refraining from doing the correct things that the old Left did, but did not sustain.

In 1947 the left parties, especially the LSSP did very well at the general election. So well, that the disenfranchisement of the hill-country Tamils was largely because they had voted for left or left-oriented candidates.

The Left had an option in 1947 which could have given Ceylon a Left-led government at independence itself. A discussion was famously held at ‘Yamuna’ the residence of Sri Nissanka, which brought together the three Left parties and non-left progressive-leaning independents including SWRD Bandaranaike.

Dr Colvin R de Silva notoriously rejected a coalition of the left parties and the independents, denouncing it as a “three-headed donkey”.

The same Dr Colvin R de Silva was sacked by Madam Sirimavo Bandaranaike thirty years later.

In 1953, on the eve of the Hartal, the Left invited SWRD Bandaranaike, head of the newly formed SLFP, to chair the Hartal launching rally at Galle Face Green. The SLFP did not participate in but supported the Hartal. The Left was correct to invite SWRD to chair, rather than reject the idea because he had been a prominent member of DS Senanayake’s UNP Cabinet!

In 1953, the Left prematurely called off the Hartal, limiting it to two days. There was no reason for it to do so, without exploring the limits of the possible.

In 1956, the Left had a tenuous electoral arrangement in some areas with SWRD, but did not enter a coalition with him. Had it done so, it could almost certainly have prevented the adoption of Sinhala Only as an election slogan by SWRD, and forestalled Ceylon’s slide into catastrophe.

Having failed to enter a coalition with the more progressive SWRD Bandaranaike, the Left later entered one with the far less progressive Sirimavo Bandaranaike.

The two best moves made by the Left since Independence were the August 1953 Hartal (which it was wrong to hit the brakes on so soon) and the formation of the United Left Front in 1963, with its accompaniment the Joint Council of Trade Unions Organizations (JCTUO) which adopted a program of 28 common demands. The ULF candidate won the 1963 Borella by-election.

In 1964, the LSSP promptly broke the ULF and betrayed the JCTUO’s 28 demands, and entered a coalition government with the SLFP led by Sirimavo Bandaranaike.

It was joined by the CPSL in 1968 and both Left parties entered a Coalition Government with the same Mrs B’s SLFP in 1970. Having made that error, it compounded it by not quitting the government when the Communist Party’s respected pioneer and elder statesman DR SA Wickremesinghe went into the Opposition in 1972 together with its most loved MP, Sarath Muttettuwegama.

JVP’s Jinx

As for the JVP, at its very inception it turned its face away from its leftwing generational counterparts in the Tamil areas. It entered an actively hostile relationship with the other Southern left radical/revolutionary groupings in the South, in the run-up to 1971. It violently purged its own leftwing dissenters within the jails. It was antagonistic to other radical leftists in the 1980s. It entered into and then broke a five-party left front in 1979-1980. It was lethally hostile to other left parties and groupings in the mid-late 1980s.

Classifiable in a different category, it spurned the space offered by the newly-elected populist President Premadasa in 1989.

All of this cost the JVP heavily. Three years after it smashed in the head of rival leftist student leader Daya Pathirana and cut his throat (1986), two years after it murdered Nandana Marasinghe (1987), one- and-a half years after it shot Vijaya Kumaratunga in the chest and face (1988) and the very year in which it spurned Premadasa’s hand of friendship and returned to civil war (1989), the JVP was militarily decimated and decapitated. The price of political paranoia and sectarianism is the highest.

What if all those it assassinated and sought to assassinate had instead been drawn into alliances, fronts, blocs and other forms of partnerships?

What if it had a policy of unity and struggle with the United Front coalition of 1970s, which it had helped elect, cultivating an equation with its more radical tendencies within the Communist Party and the LSSP? What if it accepted the respite and political space offered by the Premadasa presidency of 1989 which viewed it with sympathy?

Today, the JVP-NPP has four possible options, which are not contrary to each other. Any permutation and combination are possible, and accepting all of these options, though recommended, is not mandatory.

1. A Left United Front consisting of the JVP and FSP

2. A Broad Left United Front consisting of the JVP, FSP and the Left parties such as the CPSL, LSSP et al. (which recently attended the commemoration of the Cuban revolution).

3. A Left and Democratic Front, which is actually a Left and Center Front, consisting of the JVP, FSP, other left parties, the SJB (an emergent, mass-based centrist formation which is still a work in progress) and the SLFP (which is a slimmed-down entity).

4. To stay as it is, the JVP-NPP.

Today, we have neither a Left Front nor a Left and Democratic Front. We need both, first one and then the other, in short order.

Going by international and especially Latin American experience it would be prudent to adopt a two-stage strategy, the first being to engage with and engage in a bloc with populist parties. Logically it would be easier to shift a mass-based party with a leader who has declared himself and his party for Social Democracy to the left, than to cover that ground alone on a narrower front. I refer of course to Sajith Premadasa and the SJB.

What would be truly dangerous is to continue the go-it alone strategy of the JVP-NPP, which is the JVP and its “petty bourgeois shadow” (to borrow a phrase from Trotsky), and head into a stage of frontal confrontation with the regime, which is by no means the old Mahinda Rajapaksa administration, but which has been heavily militarized and recomposed to contain a recessed junta-in-waiting.

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Latest comments

  • 6
    2

    Not JVP-NPP or NPP -JVP, but it to be called NPP could pave the way stupid dominated srilanka to rethink next days.

    Modayas dominated srilanken would not think twice before going to do anything.
    :
    Do we have any other options left than going to support a third force other than typical poltiical parties?
    .
    I would love good men of all parties to join hand with NPP or any new force because the cancerous situation before the nation can be not curable if people would stay slaves eternally.

    Yet today, I put the entire BLAME on mlechcha media.
    .
    Just imagine, all is clear about the stealings of Lokubandara s son, but MAIN STREAM media dont seem call a spade a spade. Why ?
    .
    Who is behind SRILANKEN MAIN STREAM media for the last 10 years ? Why do the MAIN STREAM media seem to be more slave like than majority of srilankens ?
    .
    Not even SIRASA TV does not want to REPRRESNT the public 100% today ? today entire country is caught by a BUNCH OF criminals. GOTA has become a GOTTA within his mlechcha SIBLINGS or GOTA was not all its cracked up to be. This happens when anyone would be put above through MLECHCHA media.
    :
    The best political term would be ” post turtle”. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Post_turtle
    😅😅😅😅😅😅😅😅😅😅😅😅😅😅😅😅😅😅😅😅😅😅😅😅😅😅😅😅😅😅😅😅😅😅😅😅😅

    :

  • 5
    1

    “The Kerala Way Or The AKD Way?”
    asks Dr.DJ, who then goes on to say “Kerala is governed by the Left Democratic Front,”
    Well, actually, it alternates with the Congress-led UDF. DR. DJ seems rather coy about that fact. Another fact about Kerala is that it is not industry-friendly, unlike Tamil Nadu (apart from IT). Its high quality of life is to a large extent funded by the the large educated diaspora. Many Gulf states have a majority Keralite population.
    If SL is to follow that track, it will have to start producing less housemaids and more skilled workers, doctors, businessmen, engineers etc for export. You can’t do that in 5 years.

    • 6
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      old codger

      “If SL is to follow that track, it will have to start producing less housemaids and more skilled workers, doctors, businessmen, engineers etc for export.”

      Okay can we now export Dr DJ, Dr Channa Jeyasumana, Dr Jayanath Colombage, Dr Nalin de Silva, Dr Mervyn Silva PhD, Dr Gota DSc, Dr Mahinda LLD, …… ?

      Did we ever have genuine left party in this island?
      Was or is SJ’s Chinese Communist party of Ceylon a left party?

      • 3
        2

        NV,
        Good morning.
        Splendid idea too. Why did not we think of these before??
        First and foremost Prof LF’do, must be thanked for his efforts!
        Why not get the university occupying the old Colombo Academy building to award many more in the near future???
        We have solved the US$ problem, without the assistance of Cabaal, Governor’s efforts of printing!!!!!

      • 4
        1

        Native,
        “Export Dr DJ, Dr Channa Jeyasumana, Dr Jayanath Colombage, Dr Nalin de Silva, Dr Mervyn Silva PhD, Dr Gota”
        No, no. I am sure some countries would pay us to keep them.

        • 2
          0

          OC
          Only some?
          Are you sure?

        • 2
          0

          old codger

          “No, no. I am sure some countries would pay us to keep them.”

          Is that why China, Hindia, Bangladesh are paying us to keep them?
          Do you think it is worth exporting lawyers as well?
          I understand GG P’s grandson Gajendrakumar Ponnambalam wants to remove/expunge 13A. Has he given any plausible reason? Is he trying to please the Sinhala/Buddhist bigoted hardliners? Actually what does his party want?

          • 3
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            old codger

            My friends tell me that what Prabaharan couldn’t do with his madness (removing 13A ) GG P’s grandson Gajendrakumar Ponnambalam might succeed with his own stupidity.

            By the way all these newly self appointed political pundits are actively trying to shoot down 13A, raining like cluster bomb. I wonder whether any of them even have copies of 13A, Indo-Langa pact, constitution, ….

            Have discuss 13A with any random Tamil?
            Or for that matter any intellectuals like DJ, Laksiri, Udaya, Wimal, Kamala Gunaratne, …. ?

      • 1
        1

        We had Left-Elite parties in Lanka(LEP). Good sub title to explain the status of former Left parties. Leaders were Western educated, English educated, fairly well-to-do family backgrounds.

        The problem is not left or right or even the middle. It is the idea of political dynasties. Look at the professional politicians and their backgrounds, practices. On one hand they market their family pedigree in a given party to the local population. There are various symbols to reinforce the same. At election times, they come on stage with the relevant colour, party hierarhy, and the motorcades. Having a national leader on stage and the leader commenting on the local cndidate is a BIG THING for the audience. Ape Man or Woman mentality. Then there are all the machinations going underneath/behind the scene in terms of securing power,sustaining it, prospering from it. That is the business side/end. Not known to the voter audiences as these things happen in Colombo or elsewhere without the public gaze. the two sides of this political phenomena i.e. Public vs private and how they together sustain political dynasties -big and small- need to be analysed and interpreted by REAL political scientists. Unfortunately this is not happening?

      • 0
        0

        NDS is said to have suffered a lot during his Reading for PhD in. UK.since then bp started to sow his kind of JAYHIWADAYA/ RACISM germs and help out forming so called fan base but later voter making medamulana animals be the only saviors of this country/ that way these men behaved like blue flies being found on excreta. I thoght bps would introduce better systems on their return to the country but what happened was then carpenter s son/ created a tide against west/ that was the beginning ☹🐕😉🐃🤔🐕☹😉🐃🤔

    • 5
      1

      Correct. Kerala is underdeveloped with hardly any industries, therefore looking very pretty and green as it is basically rural( even if it is highly populated) . It is basically one continuous village after another, with towns and a big city or two. It largely produces cash crops like pepper and other spices but hardly any staple food like rice. It largely relies on neghbouring Tamizh Nadu to provide this even eggs, milk, and poultry. As you stated it has a high quality of life that is largely funded by the Gulf expatriated and Malayali professionals working in the west and the rest of India. Its quality of education is good, is the most literate state in India, and produces lots of high-quality professionals. Who once qualified, leave Kerala to work overseas or in other parts of India. Malayalis largely earn their living and make money overseas or in other states in India like Thamizh Nadu. Similar to the Jaffna region until the 1970s. It is a common saying amongst Malayali, that they leave their land when they are young to earn a living and largely return when they have retired. only All these remittances from overseas will one day cease and then Kerala will be in lots of trouble.

      • 3
        2

        ഞാൻ മലയാളം സംസാരിക്കുകയും മനസ്സിലാക്കുകയും ചെയ്യുന്നു.( nyan malayalam samsarikkukayum manassilakkukayum cheyyunnu) I speak and understand Malayalam. Despite being Jaffna Thamizh Christian, I have close connections and relatives in Kerala.

        • 0
          0

          Pk/
          .
          Our medamulana perethadanda aka MARa / now being caught by the first step of karmic retribution/ spoke few words fooling northerners again and again/ remember? But did ballige putha walk his talk? .
          .
          Unheated men like Mahinda should be punished as his last breath be no similar to anyone s / the mess ballige putha created harming all folks should get back on them/ Gota is made a donkey younger brother of MARAwho is playing with his pacifier yet today. So what can go smooth today? 🐃😉☹🐕🤥😡🤔🐃😉☹🐕🤥

          • 0
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            Unhearted Rajapakshes ruined this country 🤥🐕☹

      • 3
        2

        PK, I have noticed and wondered about your proficiency in Malayalam. I too have close connection with Kerala as well with few politicians including LDF members. (matter of fact I had the opportunity to meet one last week). As you said Kerala is already feeling the pinch from many Gulf returnees, which started before Covid and just got worse due to pandemic. Also many countries including Saudi is now severely restricting work permits for semi/unskilled workers and have started taxing earned income/wages. So things are not that rosy as before.

  • 5
    1

    JVP leaders should be seriously off to take advice from a SJB aligned person!

  • 5
    3

    Seeing thru’ cockeyed lens, Dayan Jayatilleka and the likes of the racist mould, fight shy of admitting the significant role played by the Federal Party in the North in making the 1953 Hartal a success. Not even a passing reference. Eh!

    • 2
      4

      KSN
      “…role played by the Federal Party in the North in making the 1953 Hartal a success.”
      *
      That was the only bright spot in the history of a party that was otherwise bitterly anti-left (+ anti-Soviet, anti-China, anti-Vietnam etc.) all along.
      C Vanniyasingam had the wisdom to support a popular struggle, not the rest of the leaders.
      Also that was a time when the FP was harassed by the ACTC. The communists came to to the rescue of the FP against ACTC hooliganism. (Did the FP remember any of it later?)
      When the FP replaced the ACTC, especially after the departure of CV, the FP grew into another ACTC but for personality issues.

  • 4
    2

    Thero class Sinhala Intellectuals throw the country to dog. Now no food, water, oil, electricity…….. But the donkeys are constantly scheming to capture the power and install them as the next King and Queen on the throne. The narcissist is shamelessly, nakedly trying to insert him from Ranil UNP to Dew’s communist party as a consultant, hoping to get beggar bawl from anybody would gain the power. What a curse to the earth! Only the Sinhala Buddhism can sanction this type of life. 1931 State Council barred Tamils from becoming ministers. In 1944 JR introduced Sinhala Only. 1948 Don Stephen successfully got rid of Tamil from the Ceylon government. 1948 Don disenfranchised Tamils and laid the foundation to nationalize the country’s economy. Head to toe, Sinhala Buddhism was burning in anti Tamil feeling from 1915, the time Sir PR went to London. That is the precise reason that there is no food in the country. Thero is cheating that Don passed the Indian Pakistani Citizenship act because Tamils voted for a donkey called MN. A Devil reading its own Mahavamsa.

  • 2
    1

    “What if all those it assassinated and sought to assassinate had instead been drawn into alliances, fronts, blocs and other forms of partnerships? “

    Let’s get back to the line I quoted from Thero, on the top: What would have happened to the country now, in May 2009, if Thero had cooperated with the West to investigate the War Criminals? Thero is good at finding the lost needle but can’t see the motor stick he misplaced UNHRC. Had Thero supported UNHRC to Investigate Royals, for sure Royals & Ranil’s UNP would be in prisons, world over, for all the crimes committed in their government capacities. Anura’s Scotland investment would have been restored back to the country. Ceylon would have led the 2020s recession recovery. Instead, now, all the dirties are constantly setting up one against another, backstabbing all who are around them, consulting each other for others destruction & demise, scheming to capture the power on the most painful time of the masses… floating the hell on the earth. It is so sad That Thero could not write this convoluted scheming consultation on a different time. Oh God, please save this Island from these hyenas.

  • 5
    1

    We don’t care whether it is the “Kerala or AKD” way, so long as this country has a WAY FORWARD (more of a Home-Grown) way to SOLVE our problems and RESURRECT it from a bunch of “Criminals” including the so-called pseudo “Intellectuals” who for the last seven decades ruined the country.

    As far as the proposals (1) to (3) of Dr. DJ are concerned, we had enough of these for decades and the results are dismal and disastrous. We know the history of the traditional left (CP, LSSP, NLSSP, MEP) and can we any more take them as “Reliable” partners in any alliance? Just trace the history from Dr. NM, Colvin, Dr. SA, Phillip, and recently known Vasu, DEW, Tissa Vitharana. What have they done and are doing, and how have they “Behaved” and “Behaving” in the political story of this country. It is nothing but “Disgusting” and “Deplorable”. At least TODAY, we have come to see an emergence of a Brand New political outfit “NPP” or if anyone wants to call it “JVP/NPP”. There is a NEW “Policy Plan” and a “SOLUTION” (All Home-Grown) that we WANT and NEED. Let us try it with the expressed condition centered on “Peoples Sovereignty” and not centered on “INDIVIDUALS”.

    However, Thank You Dr. DJ for the proposals. But please STAY AWAY from disrupting and dismantling the “NPP”.

    • 3
      2

      Simon,
      Good morning.
      Agree fully with you.
      All the “Havulas’, encountered for past 73 years were failures and not met the needs of the country.
      Left, Right, Centre, under is immaterial – did not work as promised, planned and executed.
      Mean every one of them, exhibited their ability only to turn their backs to the public expectations!!
      They proved self-serving and egoistic once elected to office, present inclusive!!!
      So the determinate factor is NPP with the NEW “Policy Plan” and a “SOLUTION” (All Home-Grown) that we WANT and NEED, which the JVP/NPP must explain and be able to provide opportunity to scrutinise/dissect/amend to meet the PUBLIC expectations! Not any other!!
      There should be more meetings and interactions with pubic at different Fora and meetings to answer in simple terms questions raised by public.
      Also, the scrutiny should include, investigation of the “rumours/murmurs” in gossips by different people (they may be otherwise politically inclined with different inclinations) with AKD being connected to an investment in The UK!!
      Have you heard of it and if so what is your take on that?
      Public perception AKD is the NPP and therefore we need to clear this before going further!
      Would you agree?

    • 1
      1

      Do we need to say anything more about Left intellectuals or so-called intellectuals serving the interests of major parties? Tail can’t wag the head! They are there to reinforce the elitist leadership of ‘undemocratic’ party system plus obtain a position in a government or semi government institution like the UGC, or a ministry. Some get the job as a ambassodor to an unknown country? That is where their intellectualism end-unfortunately. At least Warnapala got a minister position for a while. What did he do? Build more buildings in universities. This has been the trend in higher education over the last few decades. There must be something interesting in this exercise? It caters to the public sentiment about so-called Development of their regions. Quality and nature of education provided is totally another issue.

  • 2
    1

    If Sajith Premadasa truly wants to take the country out of the mess we are in, it’s time he and Anura Kumara should sit together and come up with a joint platform. Even if JVP comes to power it cannot last without international help and let’s be honest JVP does not have the international clout. To turn the country around one must definitely have the help of the west. Hope Sajith and Anura realize and act not for their own benefit but for the betterment of the country.

  • 0
    1

    What if it had a policy of unity and struggle with the United Front coalition of 1970s, which it had helped elect, cultivating an equation with its more radical tendencies within the Communist Party and the LSSP? What if it accepted the respite and political space offered by the Premadasa presidency of 1989 which viewed it with sympathy?

    Q. On whose terms?

  • 1
    1

    In the translation of AKD’s interview with News First(see above) AKD gives his reasons as to why the JVP-NPP do not want to enter a coalition with other parties,especially those who were in government before.

  • 4
    1

    “If the JVP–NPP sincerely wishes to present itself as a serious alternative it should model its strategy on that of the Communist Party of India (Marxist) in Kerala. “
    *
    It was the same CPI(M) and allies that were in charge ion W Bengal for a quarter century. How did it collapse and how did the BJP sneak intot W Bengal?
    *
    In Kerala it is still a political see-saw.
    Kerala was a highly literate state thanks to wise rulers (not the British). But there are unassailable forces of reaction still alive that enable Nehru to dismiss the Communist-led government in the late 1950s.
    The CPI(M) has to think of a better strategy if it is serious about a truly left agenda. CPI(M) itself has some residual reactionary thought among its leaders that needs cleansing.

  • 0
    0

    joining with other left parties who have to scrape the barrel for votes is a waste of time for the party.The only hope for them is to move to the center with their policies and instead of just shoting all the time against corruption,tell the people exactly the steps they are going to implement to get rid of it.

    • 0
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      “… move to the center with their policies”?
      They have to decide between the two: policies OR centre.
      They did move after 1994, and in a decade the move destroyed their credibility.

      • 0
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        sj

        They moved to the center to become part of the government only.They did not move their policies to the center.When i say move to te center it implies you move your policies to te center,not the chair you are physically occupying to te center.

        So they sat with the chandrika government with their 17 MPs and blocked everything that the SLFP wanted.The same thing happenned to her mother when the LSSP joined her in government,but the difference was her mum allowed them to takeover the policies and implement leftist policies instead of centrist ones which balance the left with the right,resulting in disastrous consequences for both SLFP and LSSP in the 1977 elections.

        Chandrika saw what happeneed to her low IQ mum and decided to stand firm on her policies though it was being stalled by the JVP and it reaped results at the next elections with the JVP brough down to what it deserved some 5 MPs or soand chandrika could carr n with her centrist policies.Nobody now has any fear that the SLFP will e like her mother’s party and now people know not much difference between SLFP aand UNP polcies

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