The crossover of UPFA Minister Wijedasa Rajapakshe has come as a godsend for the JVP fishing in troubled waters. It has already laid down four conditions?withdrawal from the CFA, abolition of the APRC, proper prosecution of the war effort and prevention of UN intervention?for extending its support to the government at the forthcoming budget vote. Now, the JVP is likely to up the ante as President Mahinda Rajapaksa, though his government is not in danger as yet, is becoming dependent on the JVP to counter the UNP`s move to defeat the budget.
What is the JVP`s actual game plan? There is much more to the JVP than meets the eye. Only the naïve may believe it is what it pretends to be through its public face, the parliamentary group. It has never departed from its revolutionary ideology which continues to drive it. Hence, it remains cadre based though it claims to be in the democratic mainstream. It has not yet liberated itself from the clutches of the old guard. Its true face could be seen through the activities of its young members unleashing violence in universities or the actions of the anarchical elements in the garb of trade unionists.
The JVP has today become, as we argued the other day, a single-issue party deriving sustenance from jingoism. Hitler used `Fatherland` to rally rabid nationalists round his macabre cause and the JVP is using `Motherland` for that purpose. Remember the infamous slogan the JVP used in a bid to justify the Khmer Rouge type disruption of the education system in the country in the late 1980s: Motherland first, education second! So, the JVP is desirous of the perpetuation of the conflict which poses a threat to national security. It may call for the annihilation of the LTTE but when the war enters a crucial phase, it ensures that the LTTEis not eliminated. In the late 1980s, when the IPKF was fighting the LTTE, which was holding out with just only 1,400 cadres, the JVP ratcheted up its killing spree in the South demanding that the IPKF be sent back.
The IPKF withdrew in the end and the LTTE bounced back to become what it is today. When Prabhakaran commemorates his dead heroes shortly, he should pay a floral tribute to Rohana Wijeweera, the man who fought for him in the South to get rid of the IPKF! He must also be grateful to the present day JVP, whose belligerence has helped him justify his terrorism to some extent internationally. The LTTE and the JVP are thus benefiting from each other`s extremism.
The JVP knows it has no future in the democratic mainstream. The SLFP is not likely to offer it a piggyback ride again at an election. Even if it does, the JVP will find it too embarrassing to accept the offer after all the abuse it has heaped on the Rajapaksa government. On the other hand, it is now convinced that it cannot eat into the SLFP support base and destroy that party from within, which was its objective when it joined the UPFA to defeat the UNF government. It is only wishful thinking that Rathu Sahodarayas can go it alone at a general election and retain the present number of seats or win more. It learnt a bitter lesson at the last Local Government election. So, there is the possibility of the JVP crawling back into its revolutionary shell.
The SLFP dissidents, whose handlers are in touch with the revolutionary core of the JVP, are working hard to enlist its support for their cause?depriving President Rajapaksa of his control over Parliament and to reduce him to the same level as President Kumaratunga under the UNF government.
If the JVP is to regain its revolutionary self fully, it has to stage an uprising against the government. If it pits itself against a left of centre coalition like the UPFA, it cannot market its cause successfully. For that purpose, it needs a UNP government like the JRJ and the Premadasa regimes, whose repression knew no bounds.
However, the JVP will have to justify its decision to topple the government, which is possible only if President loses six more MPs to the Opposition. That`s why it has made four demands. Although the government is not respecting the CFA, given the tremendous international pressure that a small country has to cope with even in managing its own international affairs, it cannot afford to pull out of it officially. The JVP is aware of that fact. That`s why JVP Propaganda Secretary Wimal Weerawansa had this observation to make on the peace process in an interview with The Island (May 17, 2004): Sri Lanka today finds itself in a trap. When one gets caught in a trap, one cannot be pulled out of it suddenly. If such an attempt is made, one runs the risk of losing even a limb. It is a task that requires a great deal of care and caution?
So, how can the JVP today demand that the government withdraw from the CFA? It looks as if the JVP wanted its erstwhile hero President Rajapaksa to lose, politically speaking, a limb!
The All Party Representative Committee (APRC) is essential though it has not yet been able to come out with something tangible by way of a proposed solution. It is high time the JVP realised that the conflict is not one hundred per cent terrorist and the minorities need some safeguards in terms of power sharing. The majority community cannot keep everything to itself in a democracy. Anyone who opposes that has no moral right to condemn the LTTE`s terrorism. However flawed it may be, the APRC has to go on!
The JVP is right in demanding that UN intervention be prevented. And the government is duty bound to tell the UN busybodies trying to justify drawing fat salaries by turning to soft targets where to get off.
It is puzzling why the JVP is demanding that the war be prosecuted properly. Didn`t the JVP hurriedly summon a press conference in the aftermath of Tamilselvam`s killing recently to praise the armed forces to high heavens? Does the JVP want the government to march on the Wanni like a bull in a china shop turning a Nelsonian eye on the collateral damage? The government has indicated its readiness to move into the LTTE stronghold surely but cautiously, as evident from the colossal increase in the defence expenditure from Rs. 63 billion to Rs. 117 billion. What would the JVP say to this?
What if the government doesn`t meet those demands and the JVP joins forces with the Opposition to topple it? Will the JVP be able to have them met by a UNP-led government? The answer as any nitwit knows is an emphatic `no`.
The JVP is obviously at the crossroads. The tug of war that the moderates of the party and its old guard are engaged in on the question of whether to side with the UNP or the government might even lead to a split in the outfit like the previous breakaway of Nandana Gunathilake in all but name.
How it votes on Nov. 19 will show whether it is desirous of trekking the beaten path of democracy or running away from it.