The JVP has dashed the Opposition s hopes of forging a grand alliance to dislodge the Rajapaksa regime. JVP General Secretary Tilvin Silva has ruled out the possibility of a coalition with either the UNP or any of its allies. He has responded to speculation in political circles that moves are afoot to bring the UNP and the JVP together vis- -vis mounting opposition to the present UNP leadership from the party front liners in the wake of their defeat at the Eastern Provincial Council elections.
That the JVP would refuse to be aligned with the UNP was a foregone conclusion. However, that doesn t mean the JVP is without prominent members sympathetic to the UNP. With Wimal Weerawansa s exit, the JVP has lost some senior members supportive of the government. Now, the JVP consists of a pro-UNP faction and its revolutionary core.
A breakaway of the pro-UNP elements in the JVP is inevitable, but not immediate as the party is still controlled by the old guard opposed to the UNP. Therefore, no coming together of the JVP and the UNP is possible at this juncture. Even the slightest indication of willingness on the part of the JVP to make common cause with the UNP will prove politically disastrous to the Somawansa faction, given the relentless efforts being made by the National Freedom Front led by Wimal Weerawansa to eat into the JVP s support base. Weerawansa is openly accusing his erstwhile comrades of supporting the UNP on the sly.
The UNP s desperation is understandable. It is being mired in a crisis owing to a string of electoral defeats. Its loss of MPs to the government and its bleak prospects of winning a future election have compounded its woes. So, the Jumbos may have sought to clutch at the straw of JVP support to prevent themselves from drowning.
But, the JVP has ceased to be a force to be reckoned with in Parliament after the split which has deprived it of ten more MPs. At the last budget vote the government managed to muster a clear majority in the House and with the dissident JVP members, its numbers have increased further. The success of the Opposition s campaign to unsettle the government hinges on its ability to spring some defections from the government, which is not possible at a time the UNP is embroiled in trouble.
Nor can the JVP cause a split in the anti-UNP vote at an election and make the government lose. The UPFA has proved it can win elections. It is the JVP that cannot afford to contest an election without the UPFA, as manifest in its ignominious defeats at the LG polls in 2006 and the EPC election.
It is only at a presidential election that the JVP can use its block vote either against or for the SLFP effectively. In 2005, President Mahinda Rajapaksa would not have won but for that crucial vote. At the 1999 presidential election, it is argued, President Kumaratunga would even have lost, as the JVP had deprived her of a considerable number of votes by fielding a candidate, if not for the LTTE s attempt on President Kumaratunga s life and the resultant sympathy that accrued to her.
However, it is very likely that a general election will precede the next presidential polls and the JVP will lose most of its parliamentary seats, which it won by contesting on the UPFA ticket in 2004. That will further debilitate the JVP before the presidential election.
Now that the JVP has taken exception to the suggestion of a grand coalition, the UNP will have to turn to its old allies to accomplish the task of bringing down the government. The biggest problem it will have to contend with is how to market some of the political liabilities among them, with so sullied a history. Their names evoke memories of corruption and abuse of power.
Why has the UNP, the largest political party in the country, had to beseech others support in this manner? Its trouble stems from the fact that today it has become an NGO of sorts. It gets praised at the embassy level and rejected at the grassroots level. For a political organisation, being the darling of the so-called international community doesn t pay politically.
The UNP has also become a prisoner of the whole caboodle of NGOs peddling an anti-national agenda. In the early 1990s, they were clinging to President Chandrika Kumaratunga s sari pota but she was wise enough to get rid of them within the first few years of her regime. But, Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe failed to do so after his election in 2001 and created within three years a situation for his government to be ousted. Appeasement of the LTTE became the raison d etre of the UNF government. That the people had not endorsed what his government did by way of peace making during that time was evident in the rejection of his party at the general election that followed.
Therefore, instead of prostrating itself before Rathu Sahodarayas in supplication or laying the blame for every defeat at the leader s doorstep, the UNP ought to give serious thought to freeing itself from the evil spell of the pro-terror NGO fraternity and restoring itself to its pristine position as a patriotic party of the people. Then only will it be able to aspire to be a winner!