JVP leader Somawansa Amarasinghe found himself completely wrong-footed in an interview with Derana TV on Monday. He put on a brave face and tried his best to maintain composure answering as he did all questions save a few. But, his arguments were riddled with glaring logical fallacies such as non sequitur (conclusions not following from the premises), hasty generalisation, post hoc (false cause), weak analogy, ad populum (attempt to sell an idea claiming all others subscribe to it), ad hominem-tu quoque (targeting opponents instead of their arguments by calling them hypocrites etc), red herring, false dichotomy (creating two options and demolishing one in favour of the other), equivocation and petitio principii or begging the question (circular reasoning). The JVP leader very generously used the so-called Straw Man method of arbitrarily rendering the opponent`s position wimpy and demolishing it triumphantly. Among the local Marxists, this approach is known as the `flat theory`.
We do not intend to delve into the JVP leader`s fallacious arguments as such. Instead, we focus on his refusal to answer one particular question in the interview at issue: Who is the real leader of the JVP? He skipped the question after some prevarication and gobbledygook. JVP watchers argue that Somawansa et al represent only the public face of the outfit and the real JVP is an underground entity led by an elusive character called Kumar Gunaratnam, whom Gen. Sarath Fonseka is alleged to have saved and cultivated during the JVP`s second uprising (1987-89) and the attendant ruthless crackdown. Somawansa may not have wanted to be dragged into an argument on that issue and have a can of worms opened in the process.
Never mind who the real JVP leader is. The question that really needs to be raised is: Who will succeed the leaders of the SLFP, the UNP, the JVP and the TNA? For, none of them has named a successor. Worse, the UNP and the JVP have even lost confidence in their leaders they had to field a total outsider (Gen. Fonseka) as their presidential candidate. Fonseka, too, did not name a deputy. He only kept the public guessing.
The absence of heirs apparent in the two main parties augurs ill for democracy. A second level leadership, besides serving as a stabilising factor, prevents political parties being rendered rudderless in times of crisis/disaster.
What would happen to the SLFP and the UNP, if some aliens were to descend here (in a `white` UFO?) and, heaven forbid, abduct both President Mahinda Rajapaksa and Opposition Leader Ranil Wickremesinghe? Their rivals may paint the town red but the two parties would go into a tailspin with many ambitious stalwarts at daggers drawn at present going for each other`s jugular out in the open to grab leadership unless MR managed to escape by inviting his extraterrestrial abductors to a gala dinner at Temple Trees or by granting them special landing rights in Hambantota, and unless RW got around the aliens and saved his skin by signing an MoU at our expense.
President J. R. Jayewardene and Prime Minister Sirimavo Bandaranaike, too, tried to wish away the issue of succession but they had Ranasinghe Premadasa and Chandrika Kumaratunga bulldozing their way through respectively. President Kumaratunga, in spite of all her tricks, failed to prevent Mahinda Rajapaksa from catapulting himself to the centre stage of politics much to her consternation.
President Rajapaksa and UNP leader Wickremesinghe have managed to turn a blind eye to the problem and carry on regardless. But, all the signs are that they will have to address the issue sooner or later. They cannot go on papering over the cracks till kingdom come. They ought to be able to grasp the nettle to promote second level leaders and name their successors if they are to ensure the wellbeing of their political organisations characterised by one man shows.
In the alternative, we venture to suggest that President Rajapaksa and UNP leader Wickremesinghe have themselves cloned and groom their clones as successors.