If there is one question that troubles political activists in Sri Lanka today, it is the current political conflict within the Yahapalanaya Government led by Maithripala Sirisena and Ranil Wickremesinghe.
Progressive anti-fascist activists are worried about the Government and its seeming inability to stop the Joint Opposition, unofficially spearheaded by the Rajapaksa family, from growing and fooling the masses. Democracy raises the question, can they come back? Some believe pointing to Local Government election results that both President Sirisena and Prime Minister Wickremesinghe have lost the political credibility they had in January 2015.
President Sirisena’s intervention in the Central Bank bonds issue undoubtedly escalated this situation. Some people believe that Prime Minster Wickremesinghe should explain. Yet, it still does not justify President Sirisena’s inexplicable political interventions which have weakened the governing coalition.
Sirisena has taken the leadership of Sri Lanka Freedom Party hoping to build it as a populist social democratic party. Unfortunately he could not challenge ideology set by Mahinda Rajapaksa and President’s political reactions could not burst the fascistic influence within SLFP activists spread throughout the country. His advisors failed to forward an anti-fascist political vision. Shiral Lakthilaka and others have the knowledge but strangely missed the opportunity. Hence, the President became a Bonapartist without an ambition, who performs to appease the crowd.
Wickremesinghe, on the other hand, has not been able to complete his mission as a change agent. He has strengthened the grip of the liberals’ connection on the United National Party and rules like a mini Abraham Lincoln. However, his economic policy has not worked still, to the betterment of the people. In fact, without changing the national State with a democratic Constitution that pleases all nationalities, nobody could bring development to the working people.
Democratic revolutionary process
Also they are appalled at statements akin to death threats, violence and hate speech against the Chairperson of the Human Rights Commission of Sri Lanka (HRCSL), Dr. Deepika Udagama, a highly respected scholar and human rights advocate. They have on the contrary welcomed the independent, substantive and transparent policy interventions made by the HRCSL under Dr. Udagama’s leadership.
Also they welcome the Commission’s proactive investigations into individual cases and the consultative processes and mechanisms, it has put in place including with Government and non-Government entities. Still Democracy believes with such interventions, that there is potential among the masses to counter this fascistic decay, and march forward, to complete the democratic revolution.
However, some radicals say that they need to look for a people’s alternative to both these fronts. The Janatha Vimukthi Peramuna (JVP) has been involved in politics of Sri Lanka for more than half a century. It has tried armed struggle as well as Parliamentary politics to become a viable alternative to both ruling fronts and so far has not succeeded. JVP leaders have so far not rejected their terrorist chauvinist history.
It is true that JVP is the only party outside the establishment which has a countrywide presence, a network of activists and supporters except in the Tamil areas of the country. It has a set of experienced male leaders; in its leader Anura Kumara Dissanayake, they have a public orator and a strong public figure.
The JVP leadership is not corrupt and has shown genuine dedication to their cause, though what it is, is not clear. As shown by its marginal representation in Parliament and limited mass action programmes these qualities are not sufficient to become a political alternative.
The JVP leadership has not attempted to become an incisive intellectual group neither has it been able to attract personalities of intellect from campuses or study groups. For almost the quarter of a century the party has been in Parliamentary and mass action politics it has not been able to pass the 10 per cent margin of mass backing.
This is one of the major reasons that indicates, the JVP has not been able to become a peoples’ movement; the JVP is engaged in isolationist politics. Its complete silence when Sirisena banned females from buying alcohol and working in bars that sell alcohol and such undemocratic and anti-human rights violations is just one recent example of this. So, the way forward should come from the Democracy movements still associated with the Yahapalanaya.