JVP lacks international relations and capacity to rebuild nation

5 February, 2023

In an interview with the Sunday Observer, former JVP Presidential candidate (1999) and current Panadura Urban Council Chairman and UNP organiser Nandana Gunathilake said the voters are not deceived by the JVP’s rhetoric on the political stage and the party also does not have a viable policy on national issues. It also does not have the international relations to rebuild a country, Gunathilake added.

Excerpts from the interview

Q: Why did you leave the JVP?

A: By 2005, the most pressing need was to defeat the LTTE. Hence we formed an alliance with the UPFA Government and also campaigned on behalf of Presidential candidate Mahinda Rajapaksa. However, the JVP abandoned President Rajapaksa after that victory. I opposed this and left the party. It was wrong to desert him at that time, as he intended to win the war. I presented this view at the Central Committee, which opposed it. So I left the party.

Q: Just like any other party, there are internal disagreements in the JVP and this is why persons such as Wimal Weerawansa and Kumar Gunaratnam left the party. What is your view?

A: There were many viewpoints and ideologies in the JVP. It was over such differences that I left it. Six others including Somawansa Amarasinghe and Wimal Weerawansa left the JVP along with me. All of us upheld the idea that the JVP should help the President to end the war. Eighteen Members were against this. These differences led to an implosion which led to the exit of Wimal Weerawansa and also the formation of the Frontline Socialist Party (FSP) by Kumar Gunaratnam. Weerawansa and I established the National Freedom Front and I was its General Secretary.

Q: Does the JVP have a viable policy on national issues?

A: The JVP’s foundation is socialism. It wanted to carry out a national liberation drive to establish a socialist order. The idea was to defeat Western imperialism. Thus the JVP was of the view that it should tie up with the Capitalist class. However, they had to change these policies as they entered into an alliance with President Chandrika Kumaratunga. There is nothing wrong in updating policies from time to time. Thus it is wrong to say that the JVP has a steadfast policy on national issues.

Q: Is it impossible now to achieve a socialist order?

A: The entire structure of society has changed. The people’s thinking has changed. As a result, now there is no working class. Even the Aragalaya was done by the middle class. Their problem was the lack of essential goods. Once they got those, the Aragalaya lost its purpose. Today, there are no people who would like to struggle in the long term to achieve a social transformation. Hence, socialism has become invalid today.

Q: However, some forces believe that it is only through an Aragalaya (Struggle) that the political system in this country can be changed. Has this become a reality in world politics?

A: There are some examples like that, but it is impossible to achieve socialism solely through Aragalayas. The Aragalaya had no proper leadership or ideology. They just sought a system change. These struggles can crop up anytime. The people have become calm now as their expectations have been fulfilled to some extent. However, if the conditions that led to the Aragalaya come up again, it can happen again.

Q: Do the Local Government (LG) polls results indicate a national level political direction?

A: Once the LG polls are held, the next election will be held only in two years’ time. This is enough time for a political change. Therefore, we cannot predict that a victory at the LG polls would translate into a victory at Provincial, General or Presidential Elections. Some political parties may want to turn the LG polls into a national-level election. But even if a certain party wins the LG polls, it cannot change the national level power structure. This election is used by the voters to select candidates who can serve their own LG areas. In the interim two years before the next election, the people’s thinking can change and the country may be transformed.

Q: So you do not believe that the LG poll would lead to change in the national power structure?

A: The people’s ideologies may change at the next national election. We will probably be able to get the IMF facility. We all learned lessons from the recent events and changes and the Aragalaya has changed many things. President Ranil Wickremesinghe has brought forward many proposals to transform the country. The country’s leaders have changed for the better after the recent upheavals.

Q: The JVP, which says that all are alike (“unuth ekai munuth ekai”) in politics, entered into an alliance with President Kumaratunga. What is your comment on that?

A: This was done by the JVP to express its solidarity to win the battle against the LTTE. It also wanted to achieve a socialist order. The LTTE was an extension of Western hegemony in this region. This was the ideology behind the JVP’s move to tie up with the capitalist class. Afterwards, the Party was no longer pure. The JVP led the efforts to make Mahinda Rajapaksa victorious in 2005. This was despite the tsunami case. Likewise, the JVP backed Field Marshal Sarath Fonseka in spite of certain allegations against him in 2010. It indirectly helped former President Maithripala Sirisena in 2015 during the Presidential campaign. Thus the JVP’s politics are not untainted.

Q: Why couldn’t the JVP continue the success achieved at the Tissamaharama Pradeshiya Sabha (PS) in the Hambantota District?

A: The JVP could effect some changes before 2006. But the JVP changed afterwards and lost its identity as a party. Before 2006, discipline was its hallmark. That was the basis for its PS success. Still, the JVP was defeated at the next LG poll. It could not fulfill certain expectations of the people. A party cannot go it alone. A single party cannot cause a political transformation. Changes in a single PS cannot lead to a countrywide change.

Q: Although JVP rallies are well attended, why isn’t this reflected at the polls?

A: When former JVP leader Rohana Wijeweera’s Presidential Election rallies attracted massive crowds, some comrades thought he would win. But that did not happen. People just listen to the JVP leaders’ speeches, but do not vote for them in sufficient numbers. The JVP obtained the highest number of votes when it was allied with the SLFP. It could not repeat this success at any subsequent election. People will only vote for the party they admire, even though they will listen to other campaign speeches.

Q: The JVP claims it has the capability to seek foreign assistance and to bring in the dollars to rebuild the country. Is this realistic?

A: The JVP did receive foreign assistance when it was allied with the SLFP. Many JVP members fled the country during the 1988-89 crackdown on the JVP. They established JVP units in those countries and continued to help the party. But they do not have the foreign links to rebuild a country. The JVP members abroad do not have the numbers or the organisational capacity to send dollars here.

– Sunday Observer Sri Lanka

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