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Sunday, 26 June 2011

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Sri Lanka needs friends, not arbitrators

It was only a few weeks ago that we exposed the opportunistic politics of the Janatha Vimukthi Peramuma (JVP). The JVP has made desperate attempts to make its presence felt by resorting to unruly acts.

Having achieved its target of finding a dead body for its political survival following the recent unfortunate incidents at Katunayake, the JVP seems to be hell-bent on continuing its political agenda to push the country towards a dark era again and cripple the economy.

The JVP or the People's Liberation Front, as it was known earlier, has been the most controversial political party in Sri Lanka's chequered history.

From the day it was set up, nearly four decades ago, the JVP unsuccessfully attempted to gain power through two bloody insurrections. The JVP initially attempted to capture power in 1970 through the bullet by attacking several police stations and threatening the then Government of the late Prime Minister Sirimavo Bandaranaike. The Government at the time had no option but to destroy hundreds of insurgents who were involved in an armed struggle.

Nevertheless, after the UNP took office on July 21, 1977, the then President, the late J.R. Jayewardene pardoned the remaining hardcore JVP activists serving jail sentences, including its leader Rohana Wijeweera and deputy leader Upatissa Gamanayake. When Wijeweera contested the 1982 Presidential election, many people felt that the JVP had given up its gun culture and entered the democratic mainstream. But lo and behold, it was shortlived - only for five years as they, true to form, reverted to their old habit of using arms and ammunition. The JVP terror, unleashed in 1987/89, killed thousands of eminent people and innocent civilians.

It is still fresh in the people's minds how the JVP posed a severe threat not only to the then Government, but also to all and sundry at that time.

The JVP also disrupted day-to-day civilian life which was often crippled by their unofficial "curfews". A large number of innocent people who voiced their protests against the unlawful activities of the JVP were brutally massacred.

After the 17-year UNP rule came to an end in 1994, the JVP again began to grow as a democratic political party. Though it took up arms against a legitimate Government twice, a certain section of people were of the opinion that the JVP had eventually reposed faith in the ballot. Hence, the popularity of the JVP increased gradually and the party emerged as the third political force in the country.

The JVP reached its peak as a democratic political party in 2004/05 when it forged a successful alliance with the SLFP and several other political parties. The JVP also exerted influence on former President Chandrika Bandaranaike Kumaratunga to call for a snap general election in 2005 and contested under the UPFA ticket. It should thank its lucky stars that due to some unexpected votes from SLFPers, the JVP secured a record 39 seats and were given four key ministerial portfolios.

This was when the JVP lost its head as some of its leaders such as Somawansa Amerasinghe overestimated its strength, inspired by the overwhelming response it received at the 2005 general election. But its true colours were seen at the 2010 general election as it secured only eight seats.

The JVP, in days gone by had a galaxy of orators who could talk to the hearts of the masses. Moreover, there were a few members who could really read the pulse of the people in the provinces. Heading that list of JVP leaders at the time was parliamentarian Wimal Weerawansa who did not mince his words when he spoke to the hearts of the rural masses. Regrettably, some JVP leaders misconstrued this and conspired against Weerawansa's increasing popularity and a few moderate JVP Parliamentarians did not swallow the outdated JVP doctrinaire politics.

At the last general election, Weerawansa polled the highest number of preferential votes in the Colombo district and became a Minister in the UPFA-led Government to support President Mahinda Rajapaksa.

The JVP is today struggling to overcome its political bankruptcy. It has neither a vision nor a clear-cut policy in the political arena. The JVP leaders are today living in a fool's paradise, attempting to gain political mileage by hook or by crook. The JVP should even at this late stage realise that people are no succours to swallow everything they say, hook line and sinker.

If the JVP is genuinely interested in protecting the country's image, it should neither directly nor indirectly support sinister moves by both local and foreign elements with vested interests. Irrespective of diverse political goals, all political parties should stand united as Sri Lanka is attempting to stand tall with its reconciliation process in motion after eradicating the scourge of terrorism.

When a section of the Tamil diaspora with the support of extraneous international forces are trying to tarnish Sri Lanka's image with a doctored video telecast by Britain's Channel 4, it devolves on all patriotic political parties here to unite in one voice and extend unconditional support to the Government. Not only the JVP, even the main Opposition, the United National Party (UNP) seems to be unaware of its real role at this juncture. In the event the Opposition parties such as the UNP or JVP have a score to settle with the Government, they could by all means take it up at a different democratic forum. The time is now opportune for all democratic and patriotic forces to unite and protect Mother Lanka from extraneous forces.

It is a foregone conclusion that several countries in the West did not favour the fearless manner in which Sri Lanka eliminated terrorism and crushed the world's deadliest terror outfit. This was, indeed, a resounding achievement which even the most sophisticated armies in the world are still unable to come to terms with. Hence, certain quarters in the West are flexing their muscle to discredit our gallant soldiers.

The eradication of terrorism has put Sri Lanka's economy on a fast track and all economic indicators show prosperity ahead. Such singular achievements have been made possible due to the indefatigable efforts of President Rajapaksa and the supreme sacrifices by the Security Forces.

It is indeed most gratifying to see Heads of State in China, Russia and Spain extending their support to President Rajapaksa during his recent meetings with them in St. Petersburg. They have condemned in no uncertain terms international forces interfering in Sri Lanka's internal affairs. As Spanish Prime Minister Jose Luis Rodriguez Zapatero has pointed out, the international community and international organisations such as the UN should help Sri Lanka at this juncture. Sri Lanka needs friends, not arbitrators or judges!

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