Taedium vitae of the Saffrons
One day, a beast of burden happened to defecate while lumbering along a rivulet downstream. Moments later, it was surprised to find itself being overtaken by its own dung. "How come what should be behind me is going ahead of me?" the poor creature wondered.
President Mahinda Rajapaksa must be asking himself the same question as that proverbial animal on being made witness to pompous histrionics of some lesser minions in his rainbow coalition. He won the war but it is his hurrah boys who are trying to go places on victory! It is like a bevy of dancing girls staking claims for the IPL trophy on grounds that they cheered for the winning side!
The JHU has threatened to leave the UPFA, if the government tries to implement the 13th Amendment fully. In such an eventuality, Minister Champika Ranawaka has said, the JHU will go all out to scuttle that move. Now is the time for the JHU to pull out and launch its campaign as the government is in the process of implementing the 13-A properly as it is very much part of the basic law of this country.
President Rajapaksa is reported have told the JHU to mind its own business. There is no reason why Minister Ranawaka should dilly-dally. He must resign from the Cabinet in protest. He may return after obtaining an assurance, if he could, from the President that the 13-A won't be implemented fully. The JHU ought to borrow a leaf from the JVP's book in this regard. The JVP broke ranks with the UPFA government in 2005 in protest against the then President Chandrika Kumaratunga's offer to share tsunami relief with the LTTE through a joint mechanism or P-TOMS. That hasty pull-out proved to be a huge political miscalculation for the JVP but the fact remains that it had the courage to take a principled stand on the issue and risk its political future. To take such a temerarious plunge, a political party needs the same amount of intestinal fortitude as a person who commits hara-kiri. Rathu Sahodarayas are quite capable of such feats!
The JVP and the JHU are chalk and cheese where their ideologies are concerned but their style of politicking is the same. Both are single issue parties that have gone astray. The JVP came into being as an extra parliamentary outfit committed to the creation of a socialist utopia through a violent uprising against the State. Having failed in that endeavour, the JVP, as is the way with all revolutionary organisations in this country, compromised its original cause and readjusted its course in politics. Finally, it carved out a niche in the political mainstream as a ‘patriotic’ force against separatist terrorism.
The JHU emerged as a political detergent, so to speak, vowing to cleanse Sri Lankan politics of its impurities and turn Sri Lanka into a Dharma Dweepa. But, it suffered the same fate as a clean fish that finds its way into a polluted pond. Its catalytic role came a cropper in no time and the JHU became part of the system that it sought to change. The very first day Parliament met after the 2004 general election, the JHU parliamentary group consisting of Buddhist monks suffered a split over the question of electing a Speaker. Its mission having failed, it, too, made opposing terrorism its raison d'etre.
Now that the LTTE has been vanquished, both the JVP and the JHU are without an issue to prop themselves up. The JVP is struggling to reinvent itself as a political party with a broader agenda to regain its lost ground. At this rate, the day may not be far off when it finds itself in the exalted company of the so-called traditional left, which failed to retain its revolutionary identity owing to its overstay in democratic politics and policy U-turns.
The JHU's predicament is far worse. It cannot act like the JVP and exploit the burning issues affecting people while being part of the government. It could neither subscribe to the government's devolution project nor break ranks in protest. All that it can do without jeopardising its political future is to make some noises and stay in the ruling coalition.
The JHU, no doubt, backed the war unwaveringly. But, the government would have defeated the LTTE even without its backing. When the giant military machine was set in motion, all idle wheels had to turn. They had no choice. That was why after the LTTE was decimated, people put up posters and cut-outs of only President Rajapaksa, the Defence Secretary, the armed forces chiefs and ground commanders. We didn't see a single picture of a JHU leader, did we? Therefore, if the JHU wants to gain some political mileage out of the country's military victory it will have to be with the government.
The JHU seems to preening itself on Udaya Gammanpila's performance at the last Western Provincial Council election. Yes, he polled a considerable number of preferential votes. But, the fact remains that Gammanpila, who projected himself as a textbook upasaka immaculately dressed in white, came a poor third, beaten by two SLFP candidates whom the Opposition painted a black picture of.
At the 2004 parliamentary polls, it may be recalled, Wimal Weerawansa (of the JVP at that time), beat all the SLFP heavyweights in the fray including senior ministers and scored the highest number of preferential votes in the Colombo District. He contested on the UPFA ticket and spent very little money on his campaign. Today, he is clinging to President Rajapaksa's saataka. The JVP, which had almost all its candidates who contested on the UPFA ticket, returned at that election and even 'donated' one National List slot to the SLFP, has been facing ignominious defeats at subsequent elections where cocky Rathu Sahodarayas chose to go it alone. The JHU, too, tested its strength at the 2006 Local Government polls and the result was disastrous. It managed to secure only 1.03 per cent of the total number of votes! So, if the JHU overestimates its strength now, it is making the same mistake as the proverbial frog that that met with a tragic death in trying to match the size of a cow!
The JVP, the JHU, the SLMC, the CWC, the CP, the LSSP etc. are mere political creepers that need either the SLFP or the UNP to rise above the ground. The only other way they can progress is hugging the earth as the NSSP has been doing all these years.
This is the harsh political reality that the Saffrons must come to terms with.