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DateLine Sunday, 6 July 2008

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JVP’s proposed strike to save face

The Janatha Vimukthi Peramuna (JVP) is facing the biggest internal crisis in its near four-decade political history. To cushion those severe blows and overcome the crisis situation the JVP leadership seems to be resorting to various tactics, throwing all accepted norms to the winds.

Today’s JVP is completely different to the party that was founded by its late leader Rohana Wijeweera. Wijeweera’s policies are not practised anymore. The late Wijeweera and the late General Secretary Upatissa Gamanayake must be turning in their graves with the turn of events.

The internal crisis in the JVP sparked off when their former Presidential election candidate Nandana Gunatillake made a ‘silent departure’ in utter disgust. However, that was not visible to the ordinary JVP supporter in the villages because Gunatillake did not take the issue forward. Instead, the Kalutara District JVP Parliamentarian remained as an independent member of the supreme legislative body, without washing dirty linen in public.

Somawansa Amarasinghe and the rest of the remaining JVP bandwagon thought that they could play the same cards and get rid of its popular Propaganda Secretary Wimal Weerawansa. Unfortunately it was contrary to expectations as Weerawansa was probably the most popular leader amongst the JVP membership.

The JVP suffered its biggest setback when Weerawansa decided to call it a day and made an emotional and hard-hitting speech in Parliament. Ten other JVP Parliamentarians followed Weerawansa and decided to breakaway from the JVP, the party they loved immensely and considered it as their lives. It was Hobson’s choice for these MPs as the adamant and power-hungry JVP leadership were apparently deviating from their original principles and goals.

The JVP is losing its lustre and its ‘true colours’ are becoming manifest again. Moreover, they are losing both their membership and Parliamentarians by the day and Anjan Umma was the latest MP to quit the JVP in disgust. The JVP leadership has realised this bitter fact and found that their political future is being overshadowed.

To defuse this crisis situation and prove a point to the people, the JVP is now going hammer and tongs with a proposed general strike slated for Thursday. The thinking of the JVP leadership is to demonstrate to the masses, especially their membership in the villages that they are still strong and could exert pressure on the Government as before.

The JVP’s cat came out of bag when Parliamentarian Lal Kantha called for the postponement of the Provincial Council elections to the North Central and Sabaragamuwa as one of the four conditions on which they would cancel the controversial general strike. Any ordinary citizen would naturally question the connection between the Provincial Council elections and the general strike, which they claim has been organised against the rising cost of living.

In demanding the postponement of the Provincial Council elections, the JVP has again exposed their political nudity. Hence the JVP has run out of ideas and options and its leadership is struggling for survival. They have no option but to look for political mileage and adopt the same strategy which Opposition Leader Ranil Wickremesinghe has been unsuccessfully trying since 1994, losing 17 successive elections.

If the JVP is sincere and the objective of the proposed general strike is to protest against the soaring cost of living, they should never have in the first place put the postponement of the North Central and Sabaragamuwa Provincial Councils as a condition to cancel the strike. Would the cost of living and the sky-rocketing world oil prices drop if the Government cancels the Provincial Council elections as Lal Kantha demands?

The JVP wants a commanding position. They do no have the ‘remote control’, which they toyed with during former President Chandrika Kumaratunga’s regime. With the JVP losing its livewire Weerawansa, Somawansa and company is unable to go to villages and canvass votes for the forthcoming elections.

Even if they were to do so with utmost difficulty, the JVP will certainly not get even half the number of MPs they now have at the two Provincial Councils.

That would make the JVP a nonentity after the PC polls slated for August 23. Hence, the JVP is playing all its trump cards to survive and avoid a premature political death. It is with this intention that the JVP is organising Thursday’s general strike.

The cost of living is undoubtedly a problem for the masses. It is not confined only to Sri Lanka but also to the entire world as global crude oil prices continue to increase. The price of a barrel of crude oil is nearing 150 USD and is expected to surpass the 200 USD mark by the end of this year. Even the super powers are feeling the heat of the increasing oil prices.

If the JVP is really interested in overcoming the global challenge, they should encourage the increase in local production, at least amongst its fast dwindling membership. The Government has implemented the ‘Vagaa Sangraamaya’ to strengthen the agricultural sector and step up domestic production.

This is one way by which we could gear ourselves to meet future challenges. There is no point in battling in the local political arena against the rising cost of living which has been mainly due to the ever increasing world oil prices to an unprecedented level. One fails to see the logic in the JVP’s acts which are purely based on the survival of the party. The remaining JVP membership too is gradually realising this ploy.

The Government is giving the right political leadership to Sri Lanka in its battle against terrorism. Any activity which could put national security at risk and disrupt the ongoing operations in the North should be condemned in toto.

Despite the global campaigns of the UNP, INGOs and other sinister elements, the Government is making and all out effort to eradicate terrorism. There is no doubt that our victorious Security Forces would soon liberate the North as well. The masses are willing to make sacrifices to get rid of terrorism. Is this the manner the JVP should set about it, if they sincerely want to protect the sovereignty and territorial integrity of Sri Lanka?

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