JVP Cannot Be Held Hostage To Its Violent And Anti-Indian Past

(MENAFN- NewsIn) By Veeragathy Thanabalasingham

Colombo, March 3: In the aftermath of the five-day Indian visit of Anura Kumara Dissanayake(AKD) of the National Peoples' Power (NPP) and his comrades, there has been an intense campaign against that party in South Sri Lanka. Politicians of major Political parties, political observers and the mainstream media are in the forefront of this campaign.

Opposition Leader Sajith Premadasa, who could not stomach the
official invitation given by the Indian government to the NPP leader, requested New Delhi to do the same to him also. It is not known whether Indian government has sent any such invitation to him so far.


It is well known that the Janatha Vimukti Peramuna (JVP) (which is the lead group in the NPP) has an anti-Indian political history. Allegations are being made by hard-line Sinhala nationalist politicians like Wimal Weerawansa and Sarath Weerasekara that NPP leaders had been bought over by India.

Central to their criticism is the allegation that AKD's team has its
willingness to support plans
to sell national assets to Indian investors. They tell the Sinhalese majority that the NPP has changed its policy towards India to the detriment of Sri Lanka's national interests.

As for the hard-line Sinhalese nationalist forces, their political existence rests on policies that are anti-India and anti- minority communities. As they never fail to exploit any opportunity to espousing those policies, they are now taking advantage of AKD's visit to India.

One is at a loss to understand why some politicians and observers in Sri Lanka worried about JVP's anti-Indian past when Modi government itself is not bothered about it.

Although NPP leaders say that they too have changed like India, they are wary of the campaign intended to insulate them from the Sinhalese nationalist electorate. This is amply reflected in their comments after their visit to India.

When reporters asked about the current position of the JVP
regarding Indian investments in Sri Lanka, one of the party's senior leaders, Vijitha Herath MP, said that they welcome investments from many countries including China and India. Until recently, they had strongly opposed many projects with Indian investment.

Although the leaders of the NPP claim that they are concerned about India's security interests, they are very much keen not to be seen as a political force that is turning pro -India.

One cannot help but ask the politicians and observers who have repeatedly been reminding the anti -India past of the JVP as to whether they wish the latter not to change its wrong policies.

The leaders of the NPP who claim to have changed their policies and strategies to suit the current international political situation and the needs of the country,
have requested the people not to judge them based on their past policies.

It seems that the leaders of the NPP are striving very hard to counter the propaganda of their political opponents who are hell bent on creating
panic among the public about NPP's intentions. AKD has time and again vehemently denied the propaganda that is being carried out that privately – owned properties will be taken over and the private sector throttled, if an NPP government is formed. Even last week, while addressing a group of business leaders in Colombo. AKD took pains to convince them that the JVP has changed.

Meanwhile, JVP's past violent politics is also being heavily talked about again. Not only politicians but also the media, especially newspapers, are busy in this.
In the past few weeks, they have published editorials more than once on the killings by the JVP during the armed insurgency.

The JVP staged two failed armed insurgencies in the latter half of the last century, but later it entered democratic politics and has been contesting elections engaging
representative politics for more than three decades.

When a movement which waged an armed struggle for a political cause changes course over time and enters democratic politics and is able to gain the support of the people, campaigns by other political forces with sinister political motives only by recalling its past is akin to ignoring the positive change that has taken place for the good.

If an armed movement takes a democratic path, it should be welcomed and supported. But reminding the past for the sake of electoral political gains will have negative consequences.

At a public meeting two weeks back in Colombo in support of President Ranil Wickramasinghe, some politicians argued that even today JVP politburo comprised of seniors who were responsible for the party's past crimes.

The current propaganda about the violent politics of the past should be viewed against the backdrop of the increasing support of NPP
among the masses. AKD is seen as a frontline candidate in the coming Presidential election due in less than eight months.

Many political observers are of the opinion that if President Wickremesinghe contests the election, the main contest will be between him and AKD.

They also say that the contest between Wickramasinghe and Anura Kumara will be very much different compared to past Presidential elections.

The NPP which had started preparing itself for the next national elections with great enthusiasm several months in advance, is carrying out a campaign among the people in an organized manner. But the mainstream political parties are in deep confusion.

Rajapaksas' Sri Lanka Podujana Peramuna (SLPP) has split into several factions. The United National Party (UNP), which suffered a historic defeat in the last parliamentary elections failing to win even a single seat,
is particularly weak. It is evident that the party is unable to reorganize itself in an effective way at the grass roots level.

President Wickremesinghe, who has nearly half a century of political experience, is looking to other parties to form a broad coalition to support him in the Presidential election.

Some politicians who broke away from the Sri Lanka Podujana Peramuna are now organizing rallies in support of Wickremesinghe.

Opposition leader Sajith Premadasa's Samagi Jana Balawegaya (SJB) is also in a quandary where its chairman former army commander Field Marshal Sarath Fonseka has been openly critical of Premadasa's
way of doing politics. Infuriating Fonseka, Premadasa is inducting ex-service commanders who were at loggerheads in the past with the former party chairman.

Observers say that all these developments are creating a favourable political climate for NPP in the elections.

Be that as it may, the important question is whether Anura Kumara, who got just three percent of the votes in the last Presidential election, will take a massive leap to win the next Presidential election with 50 percent plus votes.

Anyway, it is a fact that the future electoral prospects of the NPP can no longer be judged on the basis of JVP's electoral record thus far.

Whether other parties like it or not, it is the reality that not only India, but the leading powers of the international community, including the United States and the European Union, see NPP as a political force in Sri Lanka's future politics.

The views expressed in this column
are not intended to endorse all the policies and actions of the NPP. But the intention is to point out that the campaigns being intensified against the NPP after its leader's visit to India are indicative of the political tactics that other political forces, especially the mainstream political parties, may devise against the NPP in the days to come.

Whether AKD becomes President or not is another matter. But if he can win the presidential election, a very important question is whether the traditional political establishment and the state machinery built to serve it will allow an 'outsider' with a revolutionary past to come power.




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