Political predictions and weather forecasts have one thing in common. More often than not, they go wrong. Some months ago, we happened to comment on a New Zealand politician who naively went by a prediction based on a Gallup poll that his contender didnhave a cat in hell`s chance of winning. So, he vowed to run across the city fully naked if his rival ever won. Alas, he won! And the poor man had to honour his election promise. Being a politician, he amended his pledge. He wore a G-string and ran through the city much to the amusement of the people.
When the SLFP forged an alliance with the JVP, the Jumbos shed crocodile tears. The JVP, they predicted, would swallow the SLFP before long! What a scare they gave the SLFP! Even some staunch SLFPers started worrying. Before the presidential election, they said the JVP plan was not to remote-control but to hijack the UPFA regime by manipulating Mr. Rajapakse. But nothing of the sort happened. It was clear to any student of politics from the beginning that, due to the electoral pact in question, the JVP would go the same way as the Communist Party and the LSSP, which have become mere appendages of the SLFP.
The JVP and the SLFP are on a collision course according to our lead news item yesterday. The JVP fears that the government will go for a snap election without any electoral pact with it. The last Local Government polls, where the SLFP contested separately and scored an impressive win, have made the government overconfident and the JVP jittery.
The JVP usually works according to a long term plan but at the last presidential election, it was in a pinch as the UNP`s victory was a frightening proposition for it and had no time for strategic planning. It was a question of how to remain afloat in a political tide. Desperate for anything to clutch, it saw Mahinda`s saataka. Although the JVP had despised it earlier, it came as a godsend at that particular juncture. Any port in a storm, they say. It had no other way of holding the UNP at bay. Mahinda was in a similar predicament. President Kumaratunga and a section of the SLFP were colluding with the UNP. He was also looking for something to clutch. He saw the JVP. Together, they managed to swim to safety.
A coming together of the SLFP and the JVP is always embarrassing to each other despite its short term electoral advantages. They don`t see eye to eye on anything but defeating the UNP. As much as the SLFP has the JVP standing in the way of its relations with the investors and foreign donors, the JVP finds the SLFP policies detrimental to its interests in that the open economy and the government policy on the peace process run counter to its core ideology, which is the main attraction to its constituency. The JVP first tried to run with the hare and hunt with the hounds in a bid to overcome its difficulties. But the problem with that strategy is that after some time one who adopts it doesn`t know whether one is running or hunting, as evident from the JVP quandary over President Kumaratunga`s offer of a joint mechanism (JM) to the LTTE to share tsunami aid. It finally had to stop hunting with Chandrika.
The JVP`s strategy of supporting the government without being a part of it hasn`t also paid. It may pretend that it has nothing to do with the government but as it doesn`t act as a real Opposition force, it has no way of avoiding the blame for the government`s political sins.
On the other hand, because of the recent SLFP-UNP MoU and the offer of more UNP parliamentarians to cross over, the JVP can no longer frighten President Rajapakse into submission. The JVP, at the same time, cannot afford to just keep orbiting a government, which is eating into its vote bank slowly but steadily. It is also threatened with a split over the Nandana Gunathilake affair, which is likely to snowball into the biggest crisis in the post Wijeweera JVP.
Ironically, the JVP that made the SLFP eat a great deal of humble pie in 2000 through its `probationary government` (parivasa aanduwa) programme, goaded the Kumaratunga government into toeing its line after 2004 electoral victory until the JM issue and resumed remote-controlling the government under President Rajapakse with the threat of causing an early election, is now getting a dose of its own medicine! It is worried about a snap election. The hunter has become the hunted!
The JVP`s only solace must be that President Rajapakse is not yet feeling insecure because of his pact with the UNP and his confidence that he can still engineer mass defections from the UNP.
But, in politics, as in life, nothing is so certain as the unexpected.