By Kumar David –
The possibility of defeating President Rajapakse at the next election (or forcing him to abolish the Executive Presidency) is moving towards a 50:50 chance in the context of his setback in provincial elections and an increasingly hostile international environment. However, those who wish to see this happen suffer from congenital inductiveness of how to set about it. The Catholic Cardinal and the kept press have persuaded themselves that the way forward is to bum the Rajapakse Brotherhood, convinced that cartloads of democratic goodies are on the way if only the Clan is allowed to deliver its bounty. Opposition political actors too are in a strategic quandary, indecisive; the UNP and the all-important JVP are not clear headed (the TNA’s equation is more cut and dry). The writing is on the wall for the SLMC but it hangs on for its Ministers to maximise their loot before being unceremoniously dumped. The Dead Left is buried and irrelevant; RIP.
Something I often repeat is again significant now; that is the crucial importance of the correct next step – The Next-Step Thesis as I like to call it. Any donkey, you see, can tell you about ultimate solutions; depending on your choice it could be the Kingdom of Heaven, Socialism, National Liberation or some other utopia. That’s the easy part, rote learning. The true challenge that needs sagacity and judgement is to decide the next step. This was Lenin’s genius; when to unite or to divide, what slogan to choose, how, when and whether to compromise; these are the choices in which he had an unmatched sureness of touch.
It is tactical and strategic sagacity of this nature that Lanka’s opposition needs. Without presuming to tell others what to do let me address some what-next, what-now issues which the JVP and the UNP cannot procrastinate about any longer. My intention is to name the issues and comment on them, not make ‘you must do such and such’ assertions. Two vital decisions that cannot bear further delay are (a) how do you propose to abolish the Executive Presidency (EP) and (b) what electoral alliances do each of you have in mind?
What is the chronological order in which each of you (JVP and UNP) propose to take up these issues? It is defeatist to attempt first to win a parliamentary and/or presidential election on a general programmatic manifesto spreading over the whole policy domain while carrying abolition of EP as an element within that manifesto. This implies, for example the UNP and the JVP, will campaign separately and in opposition to each other (because their socio-economic ideologies are conflicting) with the intention of winning power, and then, if either wins, abolish EP. Is this not putting the cart before the horse? Is it not splintering the forces that are unanimous about abolishing EP (including TNA, smaller parties and civil society movements)? After this job done is done can’t the UNP and JVP canvass their separate programmes? Hence I ask, is the opposition agreed that the correct next step is to first deal with the EP matter? I am not asking about anything specific (how, when, what, who) but only about the next step as a strategic issue.
The second and last question I raise is about broader alliances; broader meaning apart from the EP issue; I mean programmatic alliances. This question is aimed at the JVP only, not the UNP since the latter has always since independence formed alliance governments, and in recent decades formed alliances even before elections – the UNF for example. After the disappointment of the coalition experience with Chandrika and the failure of the Sarath Fonseka presidential campaign which task the JVP shouldered more than anyone else, the party has gone into a shell. “Unprincipled alliances” was one of the disputes underlying the Peratugami split. So what is the JVP’s attitude to a left alliance? That is apart from the EP issue which is predicated on the widest possible alliance. I have no intention to make suggestions and proposals in this short note. It is however a next-step decision that the JVP cannot keep postponing. There is no point talking about the ultimate marvels of socialism; it is what it proposes to do in the concrete current conjuncture that counts.
History of Colombo Telegraph blocking
First -December 26, 2011 – We are blocked but we will not be stopped
Second – May 8, 2012 – Colombo Telegraph Blocked Again
Fourth – August 23, 2013 – Colombo Telegraph Blocked, How To Reach Us Now: Sri Lanka Telecom And Mobitel Joins The DPI Club!