Lal Kantha lets the cat out of the bag

It is under provocation that some people lay bare their true faces. There are many carpet biters––like Hitler, who, in his insane rages, used to bite carpets, unable to control himself––posing as upasakas among us. They preach ahimsa and pretend to lead peaceful lives. But, when provoked, they become their real selves and bare their fangs like the Fuehrer.

JVP MP and Trade Union Chief K. D. Lalkantha, who is still nursing his derriere following his grand pratfall last month, has issued a dire warning to the government, which is using dastardly force in the NCP and Sabaragamuwa to keep the Opposition at bay, that the JVP is capable of wiping out all the UPFA party offices overnight. Four or five JVP cadres, he has said at a JVP propaganda rally at Thambuttegama recently, are enough to accomplish that task. Although the ruling party chief ministerial candidate for the NCP Bertie Premalal Dissanayake and his supporters are using state power to attack the JVP, Lal Kantha has bragged, the JVP has been known for chandikam (violence) without any such power. Obviously, Lalkantha's reference was to the JVP's reign of terror in the late 1980s as well as in 1971.

That was a classic Freudian slip! Lalkantha has unintentionally revealed the JVP's real mindset and perhaps its plans for the future. The JVP had, until very recently, refused to take the blame for its barbaric subversive violence in the late 1980s. It sought to blame it all on the Deshavimukthi Janatha Viyaparaya (DJV), which was, as is the public knowledge, the JVP's terrorist arm carrying out heinous crimes against the populace and the government at that time. But, by claiming the credit for subversive violence of yore, the JVP has unwittingly taken the responsibility for the brutal terror campaign which paralysed the country.

Interestingly, the JVP has reminded the country of its violent past at a time it is campaigning against political violence. Lal Kantha has evoked people's memories of the JVP death squads killing voters who defied their orders to boycott polls in the late 1980s. Many innocent people, mostly villagers, were killed for the crime of exercising their franchise, which the JVP is today trying to protect! It is supreme irony that the JVP has had to co-operate with UNP's NCP Chief Ministerial Candidate Maj. Gen. (retd) Janaka Perera, who was instrumental in saving the country from JVP's terror campaign in the late 1980s, to battle polls violence and election malpractices!

Lal Kantha's threat implies that the JVP still has at its disposal hit men and arms and ammunition at the ready. For, four or five ordinary JVPers are not equal to the task of obliterating all the UPFA party offices overnight in two provinces. That requires 'expertise' of fully equipped sparrow units like the ones the DJV/JVP deployed in the past. Most of all, it may be recalled that most of the JVP arms caches were never detected, a fact that must be known to Janaka Perera and others who conducted anti-terror operations during the 1987-89 period.

The problem with words is that they are like toothpaste: Once let out, they cannot be taken back. Immediately after issuing the threat in question, Lal Kantha sought to control damage by claiming that the JVP, being a disciplined party, would not grant permission for such action. But, by that time, the cat was already out of the bag!

Now, it is clear who is behind attacks on the National Liberation Front (NFF) led by JVP dissident MP Wimal Weerawansa. Last week, two NFF activists came under an attack by masked men at Hakmana and the assault bore the trademark of the JVP, as anyone who is au fait with the JVP's violence and its modus operandi may have seen. Going by how aggressively the JVP leaders lash out at the NFF at public meetings, it is obvious that they have no qualms about letting loose 'four or five JVP men' on the Weerawansa faction.

Lal Kantha, like other ordinary Reds, is only part of the JVP's popular interface. But, the JVP is not what it seems. There exists an elusive 'parallel JVP' and through the medium of Lal Kantha we have heard its voice. Its pull is too strong for the 'popular JVP' to break free. That is a Dr. Jekyll-and-Mr. Hyde phenomenon. We have, so far, seen Mr. Hyde in action twice, preying on the country's youth.

Mr. Hyde makes a comeback whenever the popular JVP finds itself in a political cul-de-sac. Today, the JVP is heading against a brick wall, as in the early 1980s, when it suffered a humiliating defeat at the presidential election and grabbed the first opportunity-proscription by the JRJ government which made a scapegoat of the JVP and other leftists for 1983 ethnic violence- to go underground and remain there without coming out unlike the NSSP. Then, it made the most of the anti-Indian sentiments prevalent at that time by way of a casus belli of sorts to wreak havoc on the country.

The first signs of Mr. Hyde coming out on the streets are the JVP's epileptic fits of pseudo patriotism, its anti-Indian tirade and trouble in universities. These symptoms usually appear when the LTTE gets cornered on the battlefront and is about to receive a decapitating strike. In the late 1980s, the JVP set the southern parts of the country on fire while the IPKF was attempting to crush the LTTE in the north and east. The JVP was in a mighty hurry to have the IPKF packed off whence it had come. Finally, it succeeded and the LTTE got a new lease of life.

The JVP is making all sorts of anti-Indian noises once again, though its leader is alive today thanks to India's help. (He fled to India in the aftermath of the crushing of the JVP leadership!) Before the recent SAARC Summit, the JVP tried to create the bogey of Indian troops landing here. It has also been tilting at windmills, threatening to call a boycott of Indian products, the way it did during its second insurgency. The LTTE is also struggling to thwart a multi-pronged combined forces offensive in the Wanni. Universities are on the boil with undergrads being made to stage violent protest marches and expose themselves to danger.

The JVP is convinced that its future in democratic politics is bleak. Lal Kantha tells us the JVP is in a position to resort to chandikam again, should an order come from on high. What is up our Rathu Sahodarayas' sleeve?

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