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Friday 12 September 2014

Whither the opposition

It is clear that the UPFA, with or without the JNP led by Wimal Weerawansa, is going to win the Uva Provincial Council Elections on 20th September. What has to be decided is the majority that the UPFA would gain at the elections. The JHU is not in the “battle field”, and the politicized national movement (Jathika Vyaparaya) is now led by Mahinda Rajapakse. The people who are responsible to the present state of affairs are none other than who politicized the national movement. Those who complain that the President has ignored the national movement have to blame none other than themselves, if that is the case. These people who have not been able to understand the nature of the SLFP have changed their views so many times during the last thirty years or so. The SLFP is the party of nationality (jathikathva) for the simple reason that it has responded to the interests of the nationality, except during the leadership of Chandrika Kumaratunga.

The  national movement had been in existence even before the days of Anagarika Dharmapala as a non political power group that may be even called a pressure group. In the beginning of the twentieth century the Ceylon National Congress was directly involved with politics, meaning power politics, though the power wanted by its leaders was very limited. Anagarika Dharmapala was not after political power and he was not interested in power of any sort. The national movement of those who may be called
“bhasha  premins”  (lovers of language) was not after political power either, but were able to influence the SLFP that was formed later. The SLFP had been influenced by the national movement and victory in fifty six was a result of the latter being able to pressurize the party formed by Mr. S W R D Bandaranaike. However, it was clear that the people did not want the leaders of the national movement to engage in politics, as the political party formed by Mr. L H Meththananda could not appeal to the masses.   

Those who thought that they could use nationality to come to power have failed miserably and very often have been confined to media circuses. The SLFP can be influenced by being outside party politics, and this is something that they could have learnt from Mr. Meththananda. However, some of the power hungry politicians learnt the wrong lesson from Ven. Soma Thera whom they thought had established a new political mass base. This does not mean that they had no idea of power politics before Ven. Soma Thera entered the scene, but the Thera whose “mass base” was confined to few electorates around Colombo municipality limits that find most of the people “educated” in western concepts and theories from Literary Criticism to Political Science not to mention Engineering and Medicine, who had “migrated” from the villages, had given the wrong signals and acted as a catalyst in the formation of political parties based on nationality. It may not be too late to correct the mistakes of the politicized national movement, but with its present leadership, it has an uphill task.

The TNA led by the ITAK (or the Lanka Tamil State Party, the so called Federal party) has decided to sacrifice Tamil youth again if possible, in order to retain their hold in politics. The ITAK has changed the leader indicating that the party wants to be more militant in the near future. The ITAK had never shown its true colours to the Sri Lankans at any stage since its inception in late forties long before the “Official Language Act”. The party’s future treasurer Naganathan stated in the debate of the vote of thanks to the first “throne speech” in the first Parliament words to the effect that Sinhala people had won their independence and it was time for the Tamils to win independence from the Sinhalas. The ITAK pretended to be a non violent party but instigated innocent Tamils against the Sinhala people, claiming that they were against the government only. The sathyagrahas were non violent only in name and were aimed at violence against the Sinhala people.

It was the seeds of hatred sowed by the ITAK that finally produced Prabhakaran and the LTTE which was responsible for the massacres carried out against the Sinhala people and the Sinhala Buddhist culture in Arantalawa, Kebitigollawa, Dehiwala, Maradana and other palces including the premises of Dalada Maligawa and Sri Maha Bodhi. The TNA now has declared that they will resort to non violence activities in order to win their demands, most probably the so called rights of the Tamils. This is nothing but a veiled threat against the Sinhala people as the history shows that so called non violent activities finally ended with violence against the former.

The TNA has also said the problem can be solved within six months but they have not identified the “burning problem”. They also claim apparently that power has to be devolved to solve the problem of the Tamils in Sri Lanka. As we have argued over the years around 60% the Tamils live outside the Northern and Eastern Provinces of Sri Lanka and it is never explained how the so called problems of the Tamils living outside those two provinces could be solved by devolving power to the provinces. In any even the Eastern Province does not come into the picture now as the people in that province work within the framework of the present provincial councils to develop their province. It is the Northern Province Provincial Council that is not interested in developing their province as probably they are not interested in solving the “problems” of the Tamils in Northern Province. The TNA that is being manipulated by the west through the dispersed Tamils in their countries want to use the “problems” of the Tamils in order to hang on to the privileges they are enjoying at the expense of the Tamils in the Northern Province. Though the TNA is not involved in Uva provincial council elections directly they may be trying to influence the Tamil voters especially in the Badulla district indirectly against the UPFA in favour of their ally the UNP through talks non violent activities.   

The UNP is in utter disarray having failed to get Sajith Premadasa and Ranil Wickremesinghe on the same stage for the Uva provincial council elections. It is more than clear there are factions within factions in the UNP and Sajith Premadasa has no future in politics unless he is able to remove his opponents such as Ravi Karunanayake, Mangala Samarweera from the UNP. As Ranil Wickremesinghe is also trying to maintain his leadership at least until 2020 he is desperately involved in a balancing act that is not going to help the party. The biggest problem of the UNP is that the party unlike the SLFP is  not prepared to be influenced by the nationalist sentiments as from its inception the party has influenced by the Anglo Saxons more than by the Sinhala Buddhists. Harin Fernando has no alternative but to join the SLFP after the elections if he wants to continue in politics.

The Peratugamins have died a natural death against the wishes and expectations of those left over leftists who were thinking of reviving the left movement through the former. The common candidate is not to be seen and the JVP is hell bent in using undergraduates especially in the Moneragala district to create “bheeshanya” if possible. The JVP has no power base now in the country and they are confined to the universities and few work places where they could attract and organise some youth with their hate speeches. Hate is the manthra of the JVP from the days of Wijeweera and at Moneragala one could see how the undergraduates are being used as pawns in this hate campaign. The SLFP should not over react to this hate campaign as the victory is theirs whatever the JVP does in its swan song.  

Nalin De Silva