Whenever the Tigers fight their way into a cul-de-sac, they find an escape route through the southern political front. The Indian Peace Keeping Force (IPKF) was about to make mincemeat of the Tigers, when the JVP stepped up its terror campaign demanding that the Premadasa government send the Indian army back. The late President Ranasinghe Premadasa, who, too, had promised to do so, chose to use the LTTE against the IPKF. Nothing would have served the LTTE`s purpose better at that time!
Had the IPKF, which had to leave in 1990, stayed back a few more months, the LTTE, reduced to a few hundred combatants by that time, would have been wiped out. Thus, the JVP and President Premadasa made a huge contribution to the LTTE`s survival.
Within months of the exit of the IPKF, the LTTE bounced back with the help of arms, ammunition, shelter and funds it had got from President Premadasa and caught the military on the wrong foot.
Ironically, the JVP which made a public display of its anti-Indian frenzy and aversion to the Indian remedy, the Provincial Councils, later prostrated itself before India seeking its help to resolve the conflict and contested PC polls and had its members returned to them. In other words, it had, through its brutal terror campaign in the late 1980s, caused tens of thousands of lives to be destroyed in vain and helped give the LTTE a new lease of life.
It looks as though the JVP were trying to throw a lifeline to the LTTE once again. It has embarked on another anti-Indian campaign and is threatening to launch a general strike to oust the present government.
There must be many people who are dying to see the back of this government. Its wasteful expenditure stinks to high heavens and its callous disregard for the suffering of the public is sickening, to say the least. Its only strong point is the tough stand it has taken on terrorism.
But, why is the `patriotic` JVP in an indecent hurry to tap their pent up public anger at this particular juncture to effect a regime change? The UNP is also going hell for leather to bring down the government but unlike the JVP the UNP makes no bones about its aversion to war and its desire to put the kibosh on the on-going military onslaught against the LTTE. Its policy has been consistent under the present leadership. The people have rejected the UNP`s approach to the resolution of the conflict once at the 2004 General Election and again at the 2005 Presidential Election. The UNP has, to its credit, the courage to stand by its policy, irrespective of its adverse political fallout. So, it is understandable why the UNP is all out to dislodge the Rajapaksa administration.
The JVP is a different kettle of fish. It is parading its patriotism and demanding that the LTTE be annihilated. After all, it was for that purpose that the JVP created President Mahinda Rajapaksa, who would have lost the presidential election in 2005 but for its support. During the budget debate last December, the JVP backed the government`s defence vote to the hilt and refused to join forces with the UNP to defeat the final vote, saying something to the effect that it did not want to be party to a conspiracy to topple the government and take the cornered Tigers off the hook.
But, today, the JVP has no qualms about threatening to do what it refused to do last December! What has become of its patriotism during the past seven months? Has it flown out of the window, after the government took the Weerawansa faction under its wing? Has its urge to take political revenge taken precedence over its much flaunted love for the country? Or, is it that the JVP has finally decided to make common cause with the sinister forces, which, it said, were trying to topple the government and rescue the Tigers last December?
The JVP can no longer go places on its patriotic posturing, as the government is playing its patriotism card in a much more impressive way by prosecuting the war without the former`s help. Therefore, it is only natural that the JVP has felt the need for broader platform to prevent a further erosion of its support base. It has defaced wayside walls with posters with various demands which smack of an attempt to remarket its political project to the people because its popularity is on the wane, as manifest in the election results since 2005. The Somawansa faction also sees the Weerawansa faction in the rear view mirror and the only way for it to avoid being overtaken is to go at full throttle exploiting all the issues people are beset with. It knows that the Weerawansa faction cannot afford to pit itself against the government.
Pay hikes and other benefits that the JVP is promising the working class are attractive but it is doubtful whether workers will trust the JVP because of its track record. In 1980, when workers struck work demanding a small pay hike, the JVP broke ranks with the trade unions that had called the strike. The then monolithic UNP government crushed the strike ruthlessly sacked all the strikers who defied its order to return to work. The JVP is sure to have hard times trying to make workers answer its call.
The JVP has evolved into a single issue party. Its brand of socialism is an anachronism and its trade unionism has lost its appeal. It has come to such a pass that today it is able to win only co-operative society elections. So, if the JVP is desirous of staying in national politics as a force to be reckoned with, resorting to any course of action like the threatened general strike which will make a mockery of its trademark patriotism will be tantamount to political hara-kiri. In such an eventuality, it will have no means of deceiving the public any longer and inevitably fall between two stools, landing in the dustbin of politics in the exalted company of the traditional left.
The JVP is punching above its weight. Pratfalls that an Opposition or a party thereof suffers by undertaking tasks that it cannot accomplish only embolden a government in power bent on abusing public funds and State power to continue its sordid operations.