(April 23, Sri Lanka's prominent left movement People's Liberation Front (JVP) that lost a number of parliamentary seats they held since 2004, seems to resort to anti devolution politics once again to find a path to get out of the stalemate they are stuck in now.
JVP, that sprang out of village Sinhala youth in late 60s and early 70s inherited a mint of anti Tamil Sinhala chauvinism from its beginning and it widely resorted to anti devolution politics in its second uprising in late 1980s.
After the repression in 1989 in which almost the entire leadership was eliminated, JVP re-entered mainstream politics in 1994. Since then, the JVP's political strategies were decided in a fear psychosis vis-a-vis breakaway Sinhala arch nationalist leader Champika Ranawaka. JVP was always in fear that Ranawaka would win the Sinhala radical youth from them and moved in nationalist path in a race with Ranawaka trying to overtake him.
This conflict paved way Mahinda Rajapaksa, a capitalist politician with a background of rural nobility, to rise in power yielding what sown by the nationalists turned radicals. With the nationalist war and the victory of the Rajapaksa-led Sinhala forces, JVP that grudgingly evaded practically supporting the war was alienated from the nationalist state set up in which Champika Ranawaka had fairly consolidated as an individual.
JVP contested the 2010 general election in a coalition with ex-Army Commander and defeated Presidential candidate Sarath Fonseka who was jailed by the ruling regime and secured four seats for the party while the coalition won seven seats.
However, the party is no more a king maker in Sri Lankan politics and the leadership is facing a fast deteriorating party support base that is frustrated with the party's failure to achieve tangible gains for them.
At this juncture too, some of the prominent JVP leaders still seem to think that they may find a way out of this trouble via anti devolution politics since the newly mandated government is tended to go for devolution as a solution for the ethnic problem in an understanding with the major Tamil constituent Tamil National Alliance and India.
This can be very well observed in the present content of the JVP's propaganda organs like Lanka Sinhala newspaper and Lanka Truth website. These media try to portray a picture that the government is conspiring with India to set forth a set of proposals to devolve power to Northern and Eastern Provinces to address the long standing demand of the Tamil politicians to strengthen their national identity in politics.
We do not think this is a right moment for a campaign like what JVP led in 1987 against Provincial Councils that were introduced under Indo-Lanka peace accord. After all the Provincial Councils were in practice for more than 20 years. JVP also represented them. The major Tamil force that rejected the Provincial Councils targeting a separate Tamil state is too a non-entity in practical politics in Sri Lanka. Tamil National Alliance is also ready to accept a solution that goes a little distance beyond the Provincial Council system under the present unitary state structure.
Progressive forces of the country should try at this moment to push the government to begin a new dialogue with the minorities that are fighting for identity in politics and to come to a settlement. This will not only benefit the capitalist development but it will also enhance the development of society and polity. Leftists should not worry about what the capitalism achieves through a compromise in national issue. The solution will also pave way for broader unity among downtrodden masses as well superimposing the national divisions that restrict their struggles against evils of capitalism.
by Ajith Perakum Jayasinghe