SLPP — THE PIVOTAL POLITICAL MOVEMENT OF THIS CENTURY | Sunday Observer

SLPP — THE PIVOTAL POLITICAL MOVEMENT OF THIS CENTURY

To place on record the political significance of the SLPP, is not to belittle the SLFP.

The Sri Lanka Podujana Peramuna is a political phenomenon. Its historical significance will be of tremendous scholarly import in the future, for both the student of politics, and the regular political chronicler.

But, what would be the future role of the SLPP? Would it be the political party that becomes one of the two most significant political entities in the country, alongside the UNP, or perhaps even totally eclipsing the UNP?

From all indications, the SLPP is poised to go down that route. But the new party’s political ascension in this way is significant, not merely because a new entity came to the fore in the essentially two party system of contestation that has signified politics in the Sri Lankan electoral arena.

The SLPP signifies more than the emergence of a new political alignment. It serves to mark far more than the emergence of a new political force.

The fledgling SLPP is, though novel, the most potent movement that has emerged in this country’s political firmament for as long as most living persons can probably remember.

Why so? It’s because the SLPP was born out of resistance. It was born in the teeth of a stubborn, unyielding struggle at a moment the nationalist forces of this country were being stomped underfoot, vilified, and left for dead.

The recent decision by the Government to pull out of the UNHRC Resolutions the previous regime co-sponsored, did not emerge in a vacuum. Sri Lankan nationalism was at its lowest ebb during the 2015-19 interregnum.

The recent events including the election of President Gotabaya Rajapaksa and the return of Mahinda Rajapaksa as Prime Minister was the result of a relentless struggle, though the overwhelming nature of the mandate meant that there was a smooth transfer of power, and a quiet period of transition. But this quietude conceals far more than it should reveal.

UNDER SIEGE

It conceals the fact that there was a never before seen concerted effort by the anti national forces to suppress if not entirely subjugate Sri Lankan nationhood, necessitating the dawn of the SLPP. Persecution of individuals such as Gotabaya Rajapaksa, and some powerful others associated with the Mahinda Rajapaksa regime was only secondary to that effort.

The primary intention was to entirely suppress the notion of Sri Lankan nationhood. If there was any symbol of such nationhood left, that was targeted for obliteration. There was a well organised movement to cow the nation into cultural subjugation.

The SLPP was primarily a creation by the people,when they saw their nation under siege. The part played by the party’s drawers of water and hewers of wood, a.k.a the hard workers behind the movement such as Basil Rajapaksa and G. L. Peiris is not being belittled by any means, when it’s claimed that the SLPP was primarily a people’s creation, as a last stand against a nation that was fast facing an existential threat.

In this context, perplexingly, the UNP led forces which decided to rub the noses of the Sinhalese in the sand after the 2015 victory, were unwittingly instrumental in the formation of a genuine nationalist party for the modern era, the SLPP, when the SLFP essentially had been a nationalist force created by the bourgeoisie.This unintended authorship, or at least co-authorship,was perhaps the last thing these right wing forces were planning for.

True, the SLFP formed by Mr. Bandaranaike had lost its nationalist stripes in the interim, especially in the pre Rajapaksa era, but the fact remains that the party was founded in a well intentioned effort, as a people’s political formation. However, despite the sanga, veda, guru govi kamkaru refrain, the SLFP’s core elitist Colombo petit bourgeois structural deficiency always showed, beneath its proletarian nationalist veneer.

The SLPP may have been borne out of necessity, due to the persecution of the left of centre nationalist forces in this country by the comprador UNP which especially in 2015, was in hock to the various external forces which had a vested interest in obliterating all national minded forces from the face of this country.

Therefore, it was long overdue, this real coming into the own of nationalist segments in this country, particularly after the SLFP had veered so far away from its pro country moorings established during the SWRD era. During the pre Rajapaksa era in particular, the SLFP was coming dangerously close to becoming a twin or clone of the right wing and so called liberal (read anti-national) UNP.

POST WAR

Particularly the majority community, but also the less mercantile elements of at least sections of the minority communities, had long wanted an exit from this limbo of pretend-nationalism towards a more progressive form of Sri Lankan nationhood, in which the country truly belonged to the sons and daughters of the soil.

Those old shibboleths of a properly rooted, proud and unwavering Sri Lankan nationalism was only paid lip service to, in the waning years of the SLFP as a primary political force in this country. So, it’s all the more poetic in certain ways, that it was the intentional suppression of pro nationalist forces in this country after the 2015 return of the UNP, that has brought the authentic patriotic forces in this country together in a manner that was hitherto unobtainable, or unimagined.

The other obvious point of significance in the formation of the SLPP is the fact that it is a post war formation even as it is a post independence party , as the SLFP was.

In many ways, the 2009 war victory over the LTTE was the true face of liberation from the colonial coattails. The Eelam problem was a legacy of the British colonial domination over this country, and the divide and rule policies of the colonisers.

In a more than symbolic sense, the rout of the LTTE symbolised the coming together of nationalist Sri Lankan forces past the fog of the colonial hangover, and this milestone called for a new alignment of forces.

Bourgeois nationalism had to be replaced by the genuine article.

The Sri Lanka Podujana Peramuna is the result. However, it would be a mistake to think that the SLPP coalesced only nationalist forces around it.

That would be to forget the ‘Podujana’ element of the party.

CAST ASIDE

The fact remains that the 2015 aberrational UNP electoral victory brought on a venomous humiliation of the nationalist forces, coupled by the almost total marginalisation of the majority community.Those who question this premise need only be reminded how the TNA became the official opposition in Parliament, when the Mahinda Rajapaksa led UPFA opposition forces were greater in number than those of the TNA.

If the majority community was being ignored, it followed that the majority of the ordinary people of this country were being kicked into the dustbin. The Podu Janathawa or the common man had been essentially cast aside.

Hence, the emergence of the Sri Lanka Podujana Peramuna. 1956 may have been a symbolic watershed, but 2019 was the greater achievement in that the November electoral victory signified the indomitability of the Sri Lankan nation and her people in the face of the most crass form of suppression unleashed by right wing forces, with essentially alien anti national credentials.

The SLPP is not a mere party, it is a political movement. The SLFP was and is a political party, but the SLPP is by contrast a mass political movement, and that’s the reason the SLPP takes precedence in the national political equation. This is not by way of making a comparison on merits. It’s a necessary historical fact that would be recorded when the chronicle of the modern Sri Lankan nation is written.

The old guard of the SLFP may also be able to relate to the concept of the SLPP movement, however, as the Bandaranaike SLFPwas also a political movement in 1956 and thereabout. But by far the SLPP is the single most important national people’s political movement of today, and that fact is absolutely beyond dispute.

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