The JVP can justifiably claim the credit for many firsts in Sri Lankan politics. It was the first to stage a youth uprising against a democratically elected government in 1971. It is believed that the LTTE at its nascent stages borrowed a leaf out of the JVP`s. The JVP also introduced the poster as a powerful medium of political propaganda. The much dreaded galkatas (improvised gun) and T-katas (assault rifle with the barrel cut in half) were also its inventions. The JVP also pioneered the chit system to paralyse civilian life.
This time around, the JVP has done something different. One of its parliamentarians has resigned over an allegation of human smuggling. JVP MP for Kegalle Anuruddha Polgampola is alleged to have taken a youth masquerading as his personal assistant to Japan for employment recently only to be nabbed by the Japanese immigration authorities. The youth was deported. Following media reports, the JVP stripped Polgampola of his parliamentary seat by way of disciplinary action.
Critics of the JVP may claim that Polgampola`s resignation is an attempt to nip an adverse propaganda drive in the bud. But, the JVP, in our book, has conducted itself in an exemplary manner. It should be given the credit for that unprecedented action. It has set an example to others.
A parliamentarian`s involvement in a human smuggling operation deserves a great deal of media exposure. For, hereafter, each and every Sri Lankan lawmaker visiting Japan will be a suspect in the eyes of the Japanese immigration officials. Some sportspersons have already brought this country into disrepute by overstaying visa in affluent countries. But, the State media obviously blew Polgampola`s offence out of proportions for political reasons. (The government seems to have forgotten that Polgampola was elected on the UPFA ticket!)
Now that the government propagandists have gone to town on the Polgampola affair, it is hoped that they will also tell us what has become of the probe into Minister Jeevan Kumaranatunga`s alleged involvement in a scandal where the US visas were forged to smuggle job seekers to Alaska. That sordid operation damaged Sri Lanka`s image irreparably.
The JVP must not stop at Polgampola`s resignation. The youth whom he allegedly tried to smuggle is reported to have said he paid Rs. 600,000 to secure passage to Japan. It is mind-boggling why the JVP which claims to place so much of emphasis on party discipline and law and order has not reported that MP to the Bribery Commission. There is prima facie evidence of bribery! Will someone else do that in the public interest?
Why the JVP cannot afford to oust each and every errant party member is not difficult to understand, given the number of JVPers with a history of crimes such as murder, robbery and arson. If all of them were to be thrown out, the JVP would be left with only a handful of members. On the other hand, neither SLFP nor the UNP has thrown criminals in its ranks overboard. They have fielded killers, bootleggers, cattle thieves and pickpockets at elections and some of them have been returned. So, it may be unfair for one to ask only the JVP to sack lawbreakers within its ranks.
Strangely, the JVP Propaganda Secretary and MP Vijitha Herath has told this newspaper that Polgampola was allowed to remain a member of the party as he had owned up to his offence unlike Wimal Weerawansa and other dissidents, who, Herath has reiterated, will never be pardoned.
One cannot help wondering how on earth a comparison could be drawn between the factors that led to Weerawansa`s defection and human smuggling that caused Polgampola`s resignation. When Weerawansa broke ranks with the JVP, he was given a right royal mud bath. (As ye sow, so shall ye reap, Weerawansa should be told.) The charges against him included, so to speak, playing footsie with the SLFP, refusal to toe the party line etc. We were also told about some Rest House bills, which were, however, never made public. None of the accusations that the JVP levelled against Weerawansa and other dissidents, we believe, were as serious as human smuggling and bribe taking.
The JVP needs to be reminded that the resignation of another member of its parliamentary group is long overdue. JVP trade union chief and MP K. D. Lalkantha, it may be recalled, on the eve of the JVP-led abortive strike of July 10 vowed to resign from Parliament, if a single bus plied on the day of the strike. Unfortunately for him, the bus service was not affected by the strike at all. But, he reneged on his promise.
Never mind amiable Lal Kantha! Who in the JVP will take the responsibility for instigating violence in universities and disrupting higher education? The JVP student union has turned universities into hellholes where students are injured, maimed and killed. Seats of higher learning remain more closed than open, thanks to the JVP, which has also spread its tentacles to the school system through teacher unions. Those who are inciting violence on campuses must admit to their sinister operations and quit or the whole caboodle of JVP top guns will be kicked out at a future election. The public has told them in no uncertain terms that unless they mend their ways, they will never be forgiven, if the outcome of the recent elections is anything to go by.
Minister Mervyn Silva also said during the NCP election campaign that he would resign, if the UNP`s Chief Ministerial candidate got a single vote more than a disabled soldier on the UPFA ticket. The UNP candidate polled several times more than the UPFA candidate concerned. But, Minister Silva has not, true to form, honoured his promise. (The greatest service that President Mahinda Rajapaksa can render to the public is to secure that man`s resignation.)
Those government worthies, who are hauling the JVP over the coals for Polgampola`s offence, ought to tell the public what progress the investigation into the aforesaid US visa scandal has made. Has it been hushed up? One may ask the government to cast out the beam in its eye before making an issue of the mote in its (red) brother`s eye.