13 April, 2024

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The Partnership Between NPP & JVP Must Be Emboldened

By Kumar David

Prof. Kumar David

[In the first half of this essay I ignore RW‘s pernicious attempt to scrap local and eventually general elections. In the second part I comment on the matter to the extent relevant to my conversation. There will be a flood of Editorials and comments soon. It is too early to see how the matter will eventually go].

The National People’s Power (NPP) movement consists of an alliance of 29 left and social democratic parties, trade unions, minority organisations and grass-roots groups. It is about five years old. The JVP on the other hand is well known and its origins go back over 50 years. The structure and capability of the two are significantly different and they can complement each other to achieve shared objectives. For example, together they can aspire to form a social-democratic government, commit to the welfare of the masses, negotiate through the snares of international finance capital, promote human rights and create a unified nation by confronting and defeating racist and religious prejudices.

Covering period 1 Oct 2021 to 14 July 2022
https://www.ihp.lk/news/pres_doc/SLOTSReport202208.pdf

Stop! This is the fairy-tale and it won’t happen simply by dreaming; it requires dedication, intelligence, coordination and hard work. The two organisations have different and complementary roles. The NPP consists of well-educated persons with a grounding in many domains of professional expertise and in the last two years it has attracted a further tranche of intellectuals, liberals, lawyers, economists and other scholars to supplement the older cadre of Marxists and social-democrats. The strength of the JVP of course lies in its mass base, its ability to mobilise tens of thousands in the villages, towns, trade unions, campuses and on the streets. If the NPP and the JVP work together smoothly, it will be like a perfect match of hand and glove. 

Don’t get euphoric! People say, newspaper columnists claim and commentators swear that there is an electoral landslide visible and the NPP-JVP-combo is going win the next general election. Balderdash! A programme has not even been written! What is the economic, social, debt-restructuring, investment, foreign trade and foreign policy programme of these worthies? No one knows because it has not even been drafted. Is the NPP sleeping? Yes, I said before that the NPP and JVP can, I repeat CAN, play excellent complementary roles. The NPP has the internal intellectual resources to write, debate and adopt a national programme, but I have yet even to hear of the convening of an NPP Conference. The JVP of course will participate (not bully its way) in the Conference and once the programme is adopted it is the JVP which will take it to the masses. But there is not much time to get on with it. When are these blighters going to wake up! Don’t call me impatient. All this has still to be done.

There is an even more important goal in the relationship than the NPP’s fitness to write a common programme and a JVP’s ability to carry it to the people. The presence of the NPP in a future government will embody a guarantee of (a) democracy and (b) minority rights. This reassurance is crucial. The NPP must assert its determination to uphold democracy as this will reassure the people that a return to the excesses of 1971 and 1989-91 will not be repeated. The people, especially Sinhalese people in villages and towns, need to be sure that the bad experiences and insurrectionary excesses associated with the unfortunate past of the JVP will not recur. A strong social democratic NPP with an authoritative influence in the alliance can provide such an assurance. 

Similar considerations pertain to the JVP’s past record in respect of minority rights – Wijeweera’s fifth lecture, antagonism to plantation Tamils and the Somawansa-Sarath Silva experiences. If an NPP-JVP alliance were to face an election with fear lingering in the minds of the Sinhalese masses about freedoms and doubts in the minds of the Tamils and Muslims about minority concerns, the performance of the alliance at the elections will be diminished. To say it again in different words; the NPP must have the power to exercise control over the functioning of a future government on matters pertaining to democracy and minority rights. We don’t want to sleep walk into a nightmare, do we?  The NPP needs to be a controlling partner alongside the JVP. 

There are three ways in which things may evolve, apart from danger of militarisation. We must not for a moment take our eye off the military threat which can strike suddenly; Wickremesinghe and Rajapaksa have long histories of hostility to democracy and will willingly lend their support to military stratagems. Military regimes are the foulest and vilest of all forms of rule; the cruelty they inflict on citizens, women and political opponents is barbaric. We must not say that the military threat is minimal in Sri Lanka and lower our guard. It only takes one misstep to go down a fatal track. In this context RW’s efforts to prevent elections later this year becomes very disturbing. RW’s Uncle JR went so far as to threaten to impeach Samarakoon CJ when he was unable to bend him to his wishes. Be sure that RW will do all he can to 

undermine the Elections Department and interfere with the courts in an attempt to prevent elections. He will not hesitate to send out troops to crush protesters demanding elections.

The first of the  three other ways in which events may drift is a wave of religious and racist extremism led by near-fascist contingents of the clergy marching in lock-step with mobilisation against 13A. Rajan Philips in his column last week says: “Anura Kumara Dissanayake owes it to the people to explain his position on devolution and on 13A  even if he does not agree with the President’s timing and approach to implementing 13A”. RP is perfectly correct but I consider race-riots the least likely of the three options. 

The second possibility is that the IMF, the Western powers and international finance may reach out to stabilise the RW presidency. We do read that conditions are being stipulated, that the IMF is not fully satisfied and so on. But if the chips are down and it comes to a choice between throwing RW a life-line or countenancing an NPP/JVP electoral victory it would be naïve to think that the IMF and global capitalism will hesitate to extend a helping hand to RW by strengthening his economic prospects over the next 24 months. India too wants investment opportunities and the Trinco oil farm and is favourably inclined to stabilising RW. It seems that the IMF and Western Powers are inclined to give Sri Lanka a break; that is an opportunity to come out of the quagmire without imposing horrendous burdens. Recent electricity price increases show that this may not be possible. 

I have argued previously this column that the West, India and possibly China are NOT willing to let the Sri Lankan economy collapse, and more important, are unlikely to let the country flop into anarchy. As one of the few surviving post-colonial democracies this they find impermissible. Giant India is another story as a democracy while Malaysia, Indonesia and South Korea are off-again on-again democracies. However, if RW goes ahead with his plans to prevent elections and uses the military to crush opposition, the West will be in a dilemma. Maybe class interests will prevail over concerns about democracy.       

This has multifaceted implications. Stabilising the Sri Lankan economy over the next say 18-24 months will, in the first instance, be favourable to the Ranil Wickremesinghe Presidency. The downside to this is that RW has an anti-democratic past; it is not without reason that he is known as Batalanda Ranil and he cannot be trusted to be sympathetic to democratic freedoms. Recently he sent his military goons to crush Aragalaya activists who were asleep. I am aware of the cock-eyed demands of some Aragalaya activists such as the Frontline Socialists who demand that their programmes be accepted by the government even if they fail to win a single seat in Parliament!  What planet do such loonies come from? But you do not send your gorilla troops to batter and bash young people who are fast asleep!! And the Internet is replete with images of Ranil’s lecherous bob-squeezing cops. 

The third option of course is what I have discussed at length in the first portion of this article, an NPP/JVP election victory. I will not repeat any of it but only emphasise that to win the election the NPP programme must underline guarantees of democracy for the Sinhala people and assurances of protection of minority rights to satisfy the Tamils and Muslims. In power the balance of power between the partners in an NPP/JVP government must ensure that these guarantees are retained. 

I will draw attention to one final matter before signing off. We live in a much-changed world and the NPP has a vital lesson to pick up from Brazil’s President Lula. Democracy who declared in 2018 “we cannot grow up until the people themselves grow up”. He was referring to his own base, his cadres and those who rallied behind him. The struggle to overcome narrowmindedness, disrespect for democracy and human rights and the protection of all the peoples of Brazil’s much variegated population has to begin at home; it has to begin within the ranks of the Partido dos Trabalhadores (Worker’s Praty) a Social-Democratic/Socialist paty. The NPP must ponder this and fearlessly defy extremists and religious and racial fanatics close to its and the JVP’s base. 

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Latest comments

  • 6
    1

    Prof KD …… please don’t over-theorize ……. you don’t want to end up with egg on your face: these are Lankans we are talking about.

    I’ve no great enthusiasm or hold any great hope for/from any of the political actors in play: whoever comes I’ll be disappointed. ……….. But at this stage, I’ll be less disappointed if the JVP/NPP wins. For the simple reason AKD says they’ll stop the ex-presidents and their widows from freeloading on government housing. ………. Dunno if they’ll do it but at least they are saying it …… and that’s a start.

    • 4
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      Nimal , they can say because right now, they don’t have ex crooks / President/ PM and their widows free loading on government housing and other perks after screwing the nation.

  • 4
    4

    Dear Kumar,
    .
    No responses seen yet. When they come, I hope that they will be worthy of the subjects that you have touched on in this very important article.
    .
    I will try to give you my observations, some of which may be significant. Quite a few important ideas got exchanged between AKD and me when I was able to interact, one to one, on Tuesday, the 21st at Kanmark Hotel, Bandarawela. The first time I’d met him.
    .
    And then, today, I’ve had a chat, followed by WhatsApp exchanges with Vijitha Herath whom I knew as a student from 1980 to 1982. My memory of that is dim, but his is sharper; such early contacts are always helpful.
    .
    One of my regular gambits to drive home the point that the NPP are friendly people is that Dr Harini Amarasuriya, with whom I’m in touch, isn’t JVP at all. The points that you have made must be driven home with patience, in many settings!
    .
    Panini Edirisinhe (NIC 483111444V)

    • 5
      3

      JVP and the NPP ……… it’s just the IRA and Sinn Féin.

      They’ll make you feel important now and pretend they are listening to your every word …… and will spit you out once they are in power.

      6.9 million + 1

      • 1
        0

        nimal fernando

        Do Wimal, AKD, Rajapaksas, Gunadasa Amarasekara, Udaya, Dinesh, Champika, Sirisena, Saffronistas, …………………….. Sangas, rest of the nationalists, including Dayan, …. Gevindu (constitutional expert and an unelected MP), most importantly Channa Jeyasumana, Kamala, Surgeon General, ….. know Ajay Banga an Indian origin American has been appointed to head World Bank, (not Ajith Nivard Cabraal)?

        Do you think the rotten nationalists both Sinhalease and Tamils (being anti Hindians) should keep their mouth and other holes shut?
        Or are you planning to join them?
        There is no middle path.

        • 1
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          Native,
          “Ajay Banga an Indian origin American has been appointed to head World Bank, (not Ajith Nivard Cabraal)?”
          And the Indian origin Tatas have made the largest ever aircraft order (470 planes) for Air India, which two years ago was as bankrupt as Srilankan.
          You think this is relevant?

      • 1
        1

        Nimal
        “–They’ll make you feel important now and pretend they are listening to your every word”
        Let the poor man have his two minutes of glory. I have a feeling he doesn’t get it at home….

    • 2
      2

      https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=I6L-Y5Megf44 minutes centred upon Anura.
      .
      I have met Anura Kumara Dissanayake only once in my life, just five days ago. We interacted sufficiently. I ask for no more privilege of knowing this man, whose like will not be seen for centuries to come. I’m an old man, almost at the end of my life. I hope that the greatness of this little man will be appreciated by all Lankans.
      .
      One has to be realistic. The message will not get thorough to all, but let me hope that it gets through to at least 52%!

      https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WPyz3a_binA&t=9s – 38 minutes
      .
      2023.02.26

      Great speech. All that is incorporated herein is the truth. It may be that some of what is said here is not perfectly clear to some speakers of Tamil. Well, let translators come forward.
      .
      Panini Edirisinhe

      • 1
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        SM,
        “I ask for no more privilege of knowing this man, whose like will not be seen for centuries to come. “
        SM dear, sometimes you make me ROFL. 🤣🤣

    • 2
      2

      https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WPyz3a_binA&t=9s38 minutes
      .
      | AKD | විරෝධය කොළඹට | 2023.02.26

      Great speech. All that is incorporated herein is the truth. It may be that some of what is said here is not perfectly clear to some speakers of Tamil. Well, let translators come forward.
      .
      https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9DlAy039GJM – 21 minutes mostly Sunil Handunneththi – another good man. He is somewhat different from Anura. Some who want corruption to continue to flourish try to make out that there are differences among these NPP leaders. Fiddlesticks!
      .
      https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yuo-C7iXi4M – 62 minutes

      • 1
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        I’m sorry about the mistake there.
        .

        https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9DlAy039GJM – 21 minutes
        .
        The speaker here is Tilvin Silva, the General Secretary of the JVP
        .
        Yes, here it would be correct to say the JVP and not the NPP.
        .
        Tilvin Silva’s job is ensuring the smooth running of the Party. He will never contest elections to get into Parliament of to be the President of Sri Lanka. In certain senses he is above Anura Kumara Dissanayake.
        .
        We must be grateful to a man of Kumar David’s stature, knowledge, experience and commitment for initiating discussions of this sort.
        [Edited out]

  • 4
    1

    The NPP is the Political wing of the JVP.. This does not mean that the JVP is the Military wing but they have most probably felt that their adventures in 1971 and 1987 still haunts the Sinhala population.Prof.David quite rightly points out the NPP/JVP SHOULD STATE EXPLICITLY THEIR STAND ON THE NATIONAL QUESTION. They need to state how they propose to resolve the issues of racism that has engulfed the country. It is very likely that as at present Elections to local govt or for that matter Parliament is several months away. Can the joint opposition overawe the Ranil Rajapakse Government into dissolving Parliament? T.HE DAYS AHEAD ARE MOST UNCERTAIN…………………………..

    For a moment the General Election voting preference illustrated in the body of this essay reminded me of that good soul W.M.G.Fernando and his Transistor characteristics……………

    • 0
      0

      Plato,
      “good soul W.M.G.Fernando and his Transistor characteristics…”
      You seem to be a kindred soul of my vintage. I must admit to poring over those “data books” the way some others consumed Mills and Boon …..

  • 4
    2

    Prof. David

    A marriage made in heaven is wishful thinking & you know it, deep down. Alliances seldom work to provide that expected synergy. CBK went to bed with the JVP, who were responsible for her husband’s murder, & it didn’t work, so, do you think it would be different because the NPP is supposed to be a combination of intellectuals, professionals, Trade Unionists, Liberals, all who have the same vision for SL but different in approach? Can they compromise? The JVP is open about their communist ideology & still venerates its murderous past leader, therefore, do you seriously believe they have mellowed & will accept the ‘liberals’ you mention who are in the NPP team?

    I agree, that to take the NPP/JVP seriously, a combined manifesto is necessary to convince the voters. However, we have a history of voting for the opposition & now that we all have lost faith in the so called mainstream parties, the only option is the JVP. It is said that fools rush in where angel fear to tread & that is my fear.

    • 4
      5

      Dear RUK,
      As never before, I felt like listening to what many of them were speaking at public meetings these days. For me, I don’t know about others, AKD seems very immature in his stage speeches. He only has accusations of poor performances about others. Not even today, they clearly state how they would come out of the current economic cancerous situation, once they would be bleassed with power. Instead they just prevaricate the journalistic questions.

      And the way they attack some is beyond decency. I think until Rajapakshes, all other leaders, did it to some decency, however, our people and media mix it up all for some indifferent reasons. The truths go under the carpet again and again.
      .
      Besides, AKD and his men behave as if he was born yesterday. It is also wrong to blame all the leaders after independence. As soon as the colonial masters left the country, it was not easy for our people. People were torn to pieces. Even today, colonial mentality and language barriers divide our society again and again.

      The free education and everything else we enjoy today would not have been succeeded if people had not fought hard enough. Uneduated social media men spread only lies for their own selfish gains.

  • 5
    0

    Dear Leelagemalli,

    I believe you have not seen many of AKD’s key speeches. In some of them he does elaborate how NPP intends to come out of the current crisis. I will save you the time by writing below few of the points I heard.
    > Recover the most of the stolen money stashed in overseas countries by former ruling family
    > Strict crack down on corruption which is bleeding tax payers money
    > Cut down on free loaders (ex-presidents and widow of ex-presidents)
    > Cut off benefits of all MPs of parliament
    > Power Exports by Strengthening Farming, Fisheries, and products that can be locally produced with the available natural resources.
    > Reforming the constitution to benefit the mass
    > Hold politicians accountable (Performance based)

    These were few, There was much more…

    • 4
      1

      TTT: Hope you attempt to pour water on a duck’s back will not go to waste.

      Three more important points I would like to add.

      > Unseat all MPs who defect to other parties and hold fresh elections for those constituencies. This is to prevent MPs from becoming a “Saleable Quantity”.

      > Include the Election Manifesto of the Governing party as a “Legal Document” so that any voter could prosecute for not implementing the pledges.

      > Make all the Law Enforcement Agencies (Police, AG, etc.) including the Judiciary Independent.

    • 0
      2

      Hello TTT, thank you for your comment.
      Truly saying, I have heard about him for the last 20 years. I have heard about him and his prophet when I was in Pera. I had good friends who were active in JVP back then. However, some of them disappeared with the revolt of 89-92. It’s not that I don’t like AKD, but I find him not good enough to be the leader of this nation in this extremely critical and fragile state of the country.
      I thought that the hell (once upon a time it was the paradise to everyone) created by Rajapaksa thieves will change so that all walks People could not be violent… I hate the public speeches of JVP these weeks. They are promoting violence again. A wave of violence is ahead of us – I see some fainted light at the end of the tunnel. I really don’t want the youth to be killed and be caught up in another rebellion.I lost dozens of brothers then, I cant go back to those cruel days again.

      Our people are more pro-violence than non-violence. THey are born hypocrites. THEY are more malicious, jealous than wishing good to others. I have the comparisions having lived in europe for such a long time. If you listen to their slogans today,… you can make a real picture about them.


      tbc

      • 0
        2

        cont.

        .. We have seen huge buildings on fire in recent days..people did not realize it was our own assets. . who put them in fire if not JVP frontline dogs, aren’t they?
        .
        the accusations against other politicians would not bring much until law-reforms are not done. Amendment of laws can only be made once 2/3 of the nation would work for the common goal. Talk yourself to th epeople and clear your thoughts abou tthem. Most of them regardless of their education levels are stupid… THEIR thinking should be fed with more facts and truths. THey should be healed by feeding them with truths. Not everyone is capable of understanding facts equally… however, if that would be demonstrated by street dramas or various other workshops, people will learn it as done in vietnam for example.
        :
        Buddhism led by DHARMA is one of the good religions (actually, a philosophy but recognized as a religion) however what is being practised in our hell is not true buddhism, but JATHAKA stories based, hinduistic mixed buddhagama. Lord buddha was against that. They are after myths than ” dharmaya”: People are not rational thinkers.. as our ” HUMAN touich” repeated on this topic.
        .
        no arugments woudl be necessary, Any simple simon can point the finger at anyone who doesn’t seem to be your choice.-
        tbc

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