Saying it with iron rods, kalu thel etc

Rathu Sahodarayas are in an unenviable position. On the political front, they are facing a crisis. Hot on the heels of the Eastern Provincial Council election, where their performance was pathetic, have come elections to the North-Central and Sabaragamuwa Provincial Councils. The breakaway of Wimal Weerawansa and others has debilitated them beyond measure. Contesting more elections at this juncture is a worrisome proposition for them. Unlike the LG polls and the election to the newly formed Eastern PC, the PC polls to be held in the southern parts of the country will expose their real strength and portend what lies in store for them at a general election.

Atop all this, Rathu Sahodarayas have had to suffer physical violence at the hands of their SLFP comrades, who officially launched their violent campaign against the JVP the other day in Arachchikattuwa. JVP protesters were assaulted with clubs and iron rods first and the following day when they staged another demonstration against that attack, they had burnt engine oil (kalu thel) splashed on them.

The government must be condemned for resorting to such cowardly acts of violence to suppress political dissent. The Opposition must not be denied the right to peaceful protest. Through such repressive measures, the government has only demonstrated its dictatorial tendencies and impotence to counter the JVP democratically.

The UPFA would never have been able to form a government in 2004, when the SLFP's popularity had hit rock bottom, if the JVP had not thrown in its lot with the then President Chandrika Kumaratunga. The fact that almost all JVP candidates fielded on the SLFP-led UPFA ticket were returned and the JVP 'donated' one of its National List slots to the SLFP was proof that the UPFA won that election because of the JVP. Mahinda Rajapaksa would not have become President but for the JVP's help, as some powerful hostile forces within his own party conspired to engineer his downfall.

In 2004, the chief architects of the SLFP-JVP political marriage were Mangala Samaraweera and Anura Bandaranaike. At the 2005 Presidential Election, Mangala stood by Mahinda and was instrumental in securing the JVP's support for him. The reward Mangala had for his services was to be smoked out of the government. As for the JVP's contribution to its victory, a 'grateful' government is saying it with iron rods and kalu thel!

Meanwhile, some prominent UNPers who went all out to defeat Mahinda Rajapaksa in the presidential race are now ensconced in power. Having crossed over, they are enjoying the fruits of the JVP's labour! This must be more hurtful to Rathu Sahodarayas than goon attacks. That is the name of the game in politics, where there are neither permanent enemies nor permanent friends but only permanent interests.

Rathu Sahodarayas are also expressing their gratitude in a similar way. They have ousted an indefatigable comrade who helped salvage the JVP from the abysmal political depths it had been plunged after its abortive revolution in the late 1980s and rally people round it once again. Wimal Weerawansa is his name. They pinioned him within the party and then pilloried him outside.

Today, the JVP's hate-figure is not Prabhakaran but Weerawansa. Rathu Sahodarayas are showing their gratitude by targeting Weerawansa's loyalists. They have come under attacks and their vehicles are being seized. When government goons attacked JVP protesters at Arachchikattuwa, JVP thugs descended on a member of the Weerawansa faction engaged in distributing flood relief in Kalutara. The Somawansa faction is saying it with the knuckle sandwich!

The JVP is in full cry over the government-instigated violence against its protest campaigns. It has named the suspects and is demanding that they be brought to justice forthwith. Moreover, it has accused President Rajapaksa of violating the Constitution. Wilful violation of the Constitution, as is known to any student of political science, is an impeachable offence and the allegation that the JVP is making is very serious.

Rathu Sahodarayas are also condemning the Rajapaksa government as a corrupt regime squandering public funds and abusing power.

If the government is guilty of corruption and abuse of power and the President is violating the Constitution, what does the JVP propose to do?

Logically, it must go all out to dislodge the government and oust the President. But, nothing of the sort is being done. The JVP thwarted an attempt by the Opposition to defeat the government at the last budget vote. A few days ago, JVP stalwart and MP Anura Kumara Dissanayake told the media that the JVP did not regret having helped elect Mahinda Rajapaksa President!

One is intrigued. The JVP's position on the government is similar to that of the British government on the LTTE. It has banned the LTTE and condemns its terrorism. But, it has no qualms about letting the group continue its stay and activities on British soil.

If the JVP still thinks it didn't err by helping Mahinda Rajapaksa become President and is not prepared to attempt an ouster of the government, then it must stop making a public display of its protests.

It must learn to suffer in silence.

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