The SLFP and the JVP, which had a short-lived uneasy political marriage, have graduated from fracas to blows. Their supporters turned an otherwise quiet township of Nivitigala into a mini battlefield the other day. Now, the battle lines are clearly drawn and the two parties are set to fight it out. A coming together of the Blues and the Reds is not likely in the foreseeable future.
What was considered unthinkable a few moons ago is happening today. Last November, when the government was desperately trying to secure the passage of its budget, we indicated the possibility of two splits occurring in the JVP due to the pull the SLFP and the UNP were exerting on the outfit.
The pro-SLFP split has already happened. Wimal Weerawansa has broken away and founded the National Freedom Front (NFF). The JVP has aligned itself with the UNP, short of forging a formal alliance, as could be seen from its recent abortive strike which had the blessings of the UNP and the close cooperation between the two parties in Sabaragamuwa and the North Central Province. UNP leader Ranil Wickremesinghe and JVP leader Somawansa Amerasinghe have become joint signatories to public petitions where their signatures are placed side by side! Time was when the JVP thought if Ranil came to power, Somawansa would be arrested!
Another split in the JVP is only a matter of time and the new breakaway group will gravitate towards the UNP. Only the revolutionary core of the JVP will remain intact with a handful of its present-day stalwarts at the helm.
The JVP s tireless campaign to ensure President Mahinda Rajapaksa`s victory at the last presidential election, is yielding dividends in the form of kalu thel (burnt oil) attacks and assaults with clubs and iron bars, as was seen at Arachchikattuwa a few weeks ago! There are no permanent friends or no permanent enemies in politics there are only permanent interests!
The SLFP is notorious for using the karapincha (curry leaves) method in dealing with its allies they are used and discarded! The JVP may have been aware of the fate that awaited it in the UPFA coalition but it sadly failed to politically exploit its alliance with the SLFP. It should have made the most of state power it jointly wielded and gained enough mileage before partying company.
Following ignominious defeats at a number of elections where the JVP chose to go it alone, the Rathu Sahodarayas have finally decided to take President Rajapaksa by the saataka, as they are aware that they have reached the end of the road in parliamentary politics. Another humiliating defeat in the NCP and Sabaragamuwa (on Aug. 23) is staring them in the face.
When Prabhakaran is in trouble and wants to retaliate, he takes out brainwashed Black Tigers who blow themselves up for their leader. The JVP has at its disposal a brigade of brainwashed undergraduates who may be dubbed `Red Buffaloes`. And they, led by the nose, stage marches in high security zones and get their arms broken and skulls cracked so that their political bosses could gain some mileage.
The JVP unleashed its `Red Buffaloes` on Thursday to teach their bete noire, Mahinda Rajapaksa a lesson. They may have expected a crackdown before they reached Nugegoda from the Jayewardenepura University but the police let them march all the way up to Kollupitiya in the scorching sun by way of punishment and then descended on them. (President Mahinda Rajapaksa had a similar experience in the early 1990s, albeit with a different ending, when he, as an active Opposition activist, launched a Pada Yathra to Kataragama. He and other organisers of the protest were hoping and praying that the Premadasa government would descend on them before they left the Colombo outskirts so that they could gain mileage and abandon that long trek. But the late President Premadasa dashed their hopes by allowing them to walk all the way to Kataragama!)
That the protesters on Thursday had a political agenda was clear. If their objective was to hand over a petition to the President spelling out their grievances, as was claimed, they should have accepted the government offer to take some of them to the Temple Trees for an audience with the President. But the warring undergrads wanted one thousand of them to be allowed in!
The government would not have allowed the police to swoop on the protesting students, if a son of President Rajapaksa had happened to be among them. And JVP leader Somawansa Amerasinghe would not have used those undergraduates as a cat`s paw to pull out political chestnuts, if his son had been one of them. Ironically, the JVP students are protesting against the setting up of private universities in this country, while their leader`s son is studying in a British university like the progeny of the affluent Sri Lankan parents!
The JVP doesn`t mind rich Sri Lankan students going abroad for education and entering the local job market but it is opposed to the establishment of branches of foreign universities here to cater to the children of not-so-affluent parents! The JVP`s logic is mindboggling, to say the least.
The JVP has condemned the government for goon attacks on its political activists and the use of force by the police in dealing with its student wing activists on the warpath. But, how is the JVP conducting itself? It is all out to suppress Weerawansa`s NFF, which has faced many attacks by JVP thugs, the latest being the incidents in Hakmana, where the JVP mounted a Ninja type attack on two NFF members and in Colombo, where the house of a female member of the NFF came under a kalu thel and excreta attack.
Excreta attacks, which are perhaps endemic to this country, are undoubtedly the JVP`s forte. The JVP`s motto seems to be: `Where there is muck, there is brass.` In 1981, Rathu Sahodarayas turned excreta into gold by carrying out a faecal attack on a foreign mission in Colombo and getting briefcases full of dollars from a rival embassy also based in Colombo.
Although two wrongs do not make a right, the JVP has no moral right to condemn political violence while using goons and muck to keep its dissidents at bay. The Rathu Sahodarayas have, through their violence, proved that they would act in the same way as the present government or its predecessors and unflinchingly resort to repressive methods in dealing with their rivals, if they were in power. They have demonstrated that they, too, can be as ungrateful as the SLFP, as evident from their goon attacks on their dissidents who were instrumental in building the party virtually from scratch, after the 1989/90 crackdown.
The JVP well known for its catchy slogans coined a memorable phrase expressing disappointment to describe the SLFP and the UNP thus, at a previous election: unuth ekai, munuth ekai (which, roughly rendered into English, means, `Those guys are hopeless and these guys are no different!`) Given Rathu Sahodarayas` incorrigibility, one may venture to change that slogan to include the JVP as well: unuth ekai, munuth ekai, thopith ekai `Those guys are hopeless, these guys are hopeless and you guys are also the same!`