The JVP acts just like the proverbial cat which could not resist temptation to play Tom and Jerry on seeing a rat, while holding a lamp on a dinner table. The JVP succumbs to its anarchical tendencies from time to time when an opportunity presents itself. Now, it is threatening to take to the streets unless President Mahinda Rajapaksa abolishes the executive presidency forthwith!
The JVP`s meteoric rise in democratic politics has given way to a nosedive and it has manifestly reached the end of the road in electoral politics. It failed to manage its political fortunes, having obtained 39 parliamentary seats in 2004, when it contested a general election on the UPFA ticket. It also had about 80 Provincial Councillors thanks to the UPFA. Like a bumpkin who wins a sweep ticket but parts with his money in no time, Rathu Sahodarayas did not make use of its electoral windfall. They could have continued their honeymoon with the UPFA and used the State power they wielded to render some service to people and rise above the corrupt and mediocre politicians of the ruling coalition. They, to their credit, did not waste public funds as ministers and were genuinely interested in making a difference in politics. But, their rashness overtook them in early 2005, when CBK offered a joint mechanism to share tsunami relief with the LTTE. They, no doubt, took a principled stand but they should have known better than to make a dramatic exit in a huff because CBK`s ill-conceived move was obviously unconstitutional and that it would be shot down by the Supreme Court was a foregone conclusion. They could have rejoined the government when President Mahinda Rajapaksa offered to roll out the red carpet for them so that they could consolidate their power. Why were they wary of doing so?
It was not merely hubris and overconfidence that made the JVP turn down President Rajapaksa`s invitation. The JVP may claim it joined the UPFA to help defeat the UNF government but its ulterior motive was to eat into the SLFP powerbase in keeping with Wijeweera`s strategy. Even President Rajapaksa as the Opposition Leader in 2004, it may be recalled, opposed a coming together of the JVP and the SLFP. (Ironically, adversity made them strange bedfellows at the presidential election in 2005 to keep their mutual enemies, UNP Leader Ranil Wickremesinghe and President Chandrika Kumaratunga, at bay.) But, the JVP realised that it could not achieve its objective of `swallowing` the SLFP. Instead, it had some of its prominent members gravitating towards the SLFP and democratic politics having a mellowing effect on its revolutionary ideology.
The JVP`s exit from the government and its decision against rejoining the UPFA have not helped improve its lot. For, President Rajapaksa conducted a successful military campaign and defeated terrorism thus projecting himself as being `more patriotic` than the JVP! He also engineered defections from the JVP causing its debilitation.
In the aftermath of the recent Uva PC polls, the JVP said it would make a comeback the way both the UNP and the SLFP had done in the past. A JVP front-liner in a TV debate said the other day that the UNP had been reduced to eight seats in 1970 but it had captured power in 1977 with a five-sixth majority. Yes, the two main parties are capable of such feats as they have block votes. In 1970, in spite of a crushing defeat the UNP polled 37.9 per cent of votes as opposed to the SLFP`s 36.9! But, political parties without a mass base like the LSSP, the CP and the JVP cannot do likewise. They are flightless birds in politics needing the help of a main party to take off and remain airborne!
The JVP is now convinced that it is destined to go the same way as the traditional left. If the Southern PC polls are a worrisome proposition for Rathu Sahodarayas, the presidential election will be a nightmare. It is, therefore, natural that they are all out to avoid a presidential election.
True, President Rajapaksa promised he would abolish the executive presidency and he should honour his pledge to the JVP. But, political promises are unfortunately not legally binding and if the JVP is convinced otherwise, it ought to take the General Secretary of the UPFA to courts over the MoU at issue. The JVP is certainly overstepping its limits when it threatens to stage street protests against a broken promise, as they are bound to militate against the country`s return to normalcy after thirty years of bloodshed.
The JVP says President Rajapaksa has no moral right to seek a second term. True, he does not, as he has reneged on his promise to do away with the presidency. Similarly, the JVP, too, is without a moral right to oppose a presidential election: In 1994, it refrained from fielding a presidential candidate because the then Prime Minister Kumaratunga promised to abolish the executive presidency after securing it. And she did not care two hoots about her promise and won a second term in 1999. But, the JVP did not seek to sabotage that presidential election. Instead, it contested it! Moreover, in spite of CBK`s broken promise, the JVP coalesced with the SLFP in 2004 to contest a general election! So, how can Rathu Sahodarayas make a big fuss about the next presidential election?
We don`t want to be told that the JVP is opposing the executive presidency out of any love for a supreme parliament or democracy. For, it was to destroy a parliamentary system that Rathu Sahodarayas first took up arms in 1971 and plunged the country into a bloodbath. In 1987, they staged an armed uprising against the present presidential system among other things. So, it may be seen that they are neither for a supreme parliament nor for an executive presidency. Their aversion to the executive presidency at present stems from a fear of being relegated to the dustbin of politics after the next presidential election. That is their problem and they must not be allowed to hold democracy to ransom yet another time!