JVP struck deal with Sirisena to defeat Rajapaksa – Gunaratnam


BY Saman Indrajith

Controversial leader of the JVP splinter group, the Frontline Socialist Party (FSP), Kumar Gunaratnam alias Noel Mudalige, popularly known as Kumar Mahattaya, returned from Australia yesterday. Speaking to The Island within hours of his return, he said it was the first face-to-face interview he had given to a Sri Lankan media organisation.

Excerpts of the interview:

Q: What made your return to Sri Lanka at this juncture?

A: Political opportunities present themselves not when we expect or as we wish for. They are products of various political processes. Political opportunities crop up as a result of the needs of rulers, various political parties, their competiveness and their crisis situations. It is the duty of those who engage in left politics to make use of such opportunities in a way that benefit the people. Accordingly, my party, its well-wishers and I saw an opportunity for me to engage in Sri Lankan politics again. Our party has been campaigning for my return since the day I was deported two and a half years ago. My return is the result of all those factors. Somawansa Amarasinghe, too, did likewise. He too grabbed a political opportunity to return.

Q:  Has your return been facilitated by the ruling party or have you received its blessings to enter into Sri Lankan politics again. Have you struck a deal with the government?

A: No! We don’t believe in deals unlike the JVP. We never entered into deals with anyone and do not hope to do so in the future. In our political practice there is no room for deals. That was why we left the JVP. One of the criticisms against the JVP leaders was that they entered into political deals with other parties. We have inherited certain traditions and policies since the day Rohana Wijeweera founded the JVP. We have been upholding them to the best of our ability. Entering into political deals for convenience is unbecoming of leftists. We may share some political aims and objectives with other parties. We may even share platforms to fight for common causes. That is different from striking deals with other parties. Let me repeat that we have not struck any deal with the government or any other political organisation.

Q:  Are we to believe that you are here to back FSP candidate, Duminda Nagamuwa, in the presidential race?

A: All leftists support him. But, my return was not something accidental. It was the outcome of a long struggle by our party members. My intention is to further the cause of left politics and eliminate the distorted perceptions of socialism in our society. On the other hand, my return should not be used to claim that there is democracy in Sri Lanka. The country is gripped by a political crisis which paradoxically facilitated my return. Our intention is to make the FSP a leading political force representing a wider section of society. Our desire is to strengthen the left movement in Sri Lanka.

Q:  How can you talk about a long term political project when you have been granted a visa only upto Jan. 28, 2015?

A: True, I have been granted a visa only up to Jan. 28. But, you have to take cognisance of the fact there is political process. We will take certain action hoping that there will be more political opportunities which could be grabbed by us so that I could stay here longer. As for the political process I have referred to there are no formulas and equations. To achieve our objectives we have to make political interventions. The FSP together with other left parties will do so in the future.

Q:  You say that political opportunities present themselves and leftists should grab them. You can be accused of having struck a deal with the government on the pretext of availing yourself of opportunities created by it. What would you say to this?

A: We resumed doing politics in 1994 after UNP had wiped out our party by killing around 60,000 members. That was the moment of truth for us and that challenge required a great deal of courage. But, some of those holding decision making positions in the JVP at present did not want to revive the party at that time.

Q:  Are you referring to Anura Kumara Dissanayake?

A: No! What I am telling you is that certain people who are leading the party today did not want to revive the JVP then. I refrain from naming them. But, we had the courage to take that decision. I have to mention that Somawansa Amarasinghe, too, favoured and fought for the revival of the party. He backed us though he was hesitant to return. After sometime, he came back but not when we wanted him to return.

Political situations are like that. I was abducted and was about to be killed but owing to some other political developments I was set free. Official and unofficial forces joined together to create one single force working for my release. Now, after two and a half years, I have come back. A person who was abducted to be killed has returned and is addressing the media in Colombo! This is how politics works. That is why I told you that we should grab political opportunities as and when they present themselves. There is absolutely no need for going for deals with anyone. Everything pertaining to my return has been released to the media by our party except the time of my arrival. Right from the beginning we have maintained transparency about our activities.

Q:  What do you think really caused the JVP to suffer a debilitating split a few years ago? Some JVP members broke ranks with the party leadership and formed the FSP, which you are leading now. How would you explain what happened?

A: In politics such situations are not uncommon. We left the party on policy issues. But, what you see today is different. Politicians jump from one party to another every single day. I agree with what our presidential candidate Duminda says; only Mahinda Rajapaksa and Maithripala Sirisena could be trusted when it comes to crossovers these days.

People have forgotten their problems and are acting as cheerleaders for politicians. The JVP suffered a split due to political issues. However, there is an unfortunate culture in left politics there; once somebody defects his former colleagues become his enemies. This is the situation with regard to everybody in the left movement. That was why some of our comrades pasting posters have been attacked by their erstwhile comrades. The present-day JVP leaders did not want me to come. They planted stories in some websites sympathetic to them so that the authorities would not grant me a visa. We have information about their secret plans to prevent me from coming home. I do not know whether it is true but there were rumours that it was some of the JVP leaders who revealed the place where I had been staying to my abductors.

Somawansa Amarasinghe and some prominent members of the JVP have given up leftist politics. That is the end of the journey for them in politics. Of course, they could remain as a party like others but they are a spent force without a political future. There are still true socialist cadres in the JVP. Our mission is to liberate them.

Q:  What have you got to say about the JVP’s support for Maithripala Sirisena?

A: Well, it is just an extension of what the non-revolutionary leaders have been doing all these years. They supported the so-called Probationary Government in 2001. Then they formed an alliance government in 2004 with the SLFP, helped Mahinda Rajapaksa become President in 2005 and backed Sarath Fonseka in 2010. Their attempt to form a government with the UNP in 2010 came a cropper. Now, they are supporting Sirisena! On earlier occasions they could come out and state openly what they stood for. But, now, they know that party members detest such action. That is why they could not openly pledge their support to Sirisena. They entered into a secret agreement with him to campaign for him by asking voters to defeat Mahinda Rajapaksa. This strategy is bound to backfire.

Q:  What have you been doing during the last two and a half years in exile?

A: I have been studying the political situation in Sri Lanka and making use of ICT to work closely with other party members. Besides, I have visited many other countries strengthening our foreign network and raising funds.

Q:  What do you have to say about the allegation that FSP receives funds from the Tamil Diaspora?

A: The term Diaspora has been misconstrued. The Diaspora comprises everybody who lives in exile including Tamils and Sinhalese. I stress that we have not received any funds from the LTTE or anyone connected with it. The allegation that we have been getting funds from the Tamil Diaspora has been levelled against me because of my Tamil descent.

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