Is headless SLFP facing dissolution?



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By Gunadasa Amarasekera


The conspiratorial powers-the CIA, the RAW, the MI 6 and their agents, some NGOs and separatists had a four fold agenda to be achieved.


- firstly to oust Mahinda Rajapaksa


- secondly to install a leader of their choice


- thirdly to destroy the SLFP


- fourthly to grant the desired Elam


The first three objectives have been achieved. The third objective of destroying the SLFP is being worked out at the moment.


By now a sizeable section of nearly forty SLFP MPs have joined the cabinet led by Ranil Wickremesinghe. President Maithripala does not head that Cabinet. It is wrong to designate them as SLFP members any longer. They have to act in accordance with the wishes of the all powerful Prime Minister.


The section of the SLFP under Nimal Siripala de Silva is an impotent appendage of the UNP. They dare not take up any issues that would contravene the Ranil Wickremesinghe agenda. They no longer perform the nationalist agenda for which the SLFPhas stood for over the years. When Modi had the gumption to tell this government that it should go beyond the 13th Amendment Nimal Siripala was not only silent but sang in praise of Modi reciting panegyrics in Hindi.


When Wigneswaran forwarded the genocide charge to the UN there was not a whimper on the part of theSLFP leader. When Sirisena, CBK and RW distributed the land around the High Security zone ,Nimal Siripala could not point out that nearly 90% of that land had been handed over by the previous government. When the issue of the national anthem came he could not point out that it was a violation of the Constitution. (This was the third time Sirisena violated the Constitution.)


Can the Nimal Siripala faction be considered as the opposition? This Cabinet consists of ministers who sit in RW’s Cabinet in the morning maintaining collective responsibility and then in the evening sit with the Leader of the Opposition deliberating on how to oppose what they endorsed in the morning! Can anything be more farcical? They are worse than the proverbial two robbers who fought at least during the day, while they robbed together at night. President Sirisena appoints a UNP government and vows to look after the SLFP!


So we have a section of the SLFP which is virtually a part of the UNP, and another faction which aids and abets the UNP covertly. The provincial and the Pradeshiya Sabha members belonging to the lower ranks of the SLFP which is virtually a part of the SLFP are revolting against these despicable deals, and are now flocking around Mahinda Rajapaksa.


Obviously the SLFP at grassroot level is entirely with Mahinda Rajapaksa. The vast crowds at the rallies make this evident.


Thus the SLFP has been broken into three fractions and is no longer the monolithic party it used to be over the years.


A pertinent question that needs to be asked is what is being desired by those conspiratorial powers who have brought about this situation?


They have obviously realized that ousting Mahinda Rajapaksa is inadequate to realize their aim.


The SLFP stands for the vast majority of Sinhala Buddhists; it is the anti imperialist party. It has a heritage going beyond 1956. It has the potential to throw up a Mahinda Rajapaksa sooner or later if it is allowed to remain intact.


At the moment with the SLFP having become an appendage of the UNP it could also serve another purpose. When Elam is handed over the SLFP will have to participate at that ceremony. The SLFPers will have to place their hands when the offering is made and the sacrificial lamb is placed at the feet of Modi! There is a fundamental question that needs to be asked by anyone who opts to restore the SLFP from its present predicament and prevent its final dissolution.


How is it that a party like the SLFP which has its origins in the soil of this country, representing the identity of the nation long standing anti-imperialist with tradition has come to this pass? How can one explain this present plight?


About 25 years ago when I delivered the Annual Bandaranaike Memorial oration, I made the following observation; "I see the present as a headless body (kawandaya). The leaders of that Party have not been able to provide the head needed by that vast body. Instead of creating the required head, what has been attempted so far is to graft Marxist horse heads, or liberal donkey heads. If this servile mentality is not given up soon it will not take long for this headless body to disintegrate."


Isn’t this what has happened today?


Bandaranaike who founded the SLFP had a clear idea of its origins. He knew that it was the seeds sewn by Anagaraika Dharmapalathat prepared the ground for a party like the SLFP to take root. It was this realization that went into the formation of the Sinhala Maha Sabha by him. He knew that if his nationalist movement is to succeed he should firstly bring the Sinhalese together and that it is around that unity that the other ethnic groups could be brought together. His assumption is absolutely right.


But what Bandaranaike failed to realize is how that unity could be forged, how the Sinhalese as well as the other ethnic groups could be brought together. (It had to go beyond rhetoric, slogans, and brandishing worthless symbols) That bond had to be a firm soul binding bond, such a soul bonding hasto be garnered from the civilizational foundations shared by all ethnic groups. The major component of that civilizational foundation would invariably be the Sinhala Buddhist as it is the Sinhala Buddhists who have contributed the major share to this civilization over the centuries.


I recently came across a remarkably insightful observation by a Thai intellect. (I can’t recall his name.) He was a prominent member of the group headed by Buddhadasa Mahatheraand Sivaraksha who were engaged in creating a Buddhist socialist ideology in Thailand.)


According to that Thai intellectual there were three countries (that had overcome foreign domination) in South Asia which had the potential to go back to their heritage and civilizational foundations to evolve a new State in keeping with modern times. They were Burma,Cambodia and Sri Lanka.U Nu of Burma was partially successful and headed such a State for a decade or so till he was deposed by an army coup. Prince Sihanouk had no opportunity. Sinhala Buddhists of Sri Lanka put Bandaranaike into power to accomplish this task. But Bandaranaike whose head was full of liberalism imbibed from the West failed to see this.


I think this observation is valid to a great extent. But what is regrettable is Bandaranaike’s failure to realize that cultural foundation on which he could build had already been unearthed by Angarika Dharmapala.


I think there is a misconception that needs to be cleared at least at this late stage. Bandaranaike too may have been under that misconception. Even today Anagaraika’s movement is looked upon as only a Buddhist revival movement devoid of any political aims. It was a powerful National liberation movement that lasted nearly two decades till 1915 when Anagarika had to leave thiscountry andbe under house arrest in India for seven years .Anagarika drove fear into the hearts of the White rulers, so much so that a daily newspaper warned that one morning Angarika would come with his army and surround Colombo. Once Anagarika had left for India the IGP noted that he has not left for religious purposes but to meet the Bolshevik leader M.N.Roy. (I have dealt with this aspect in my book- AnagarikaDharmapalaMarxwadeeda?. )


The liberation struggle initiated byAnagarikaDharmapala was anathema to the pro Western group dominating the Ceylon National Congress. Not only did they do everything possible to keep Dharmapala from the political arena but went on to replace his image as a political leader with that of a Buddhisatva destined to become the next Buddha!


It is time that our present day revolutionists realize the place Anagarika occupies when they go into the archaeology of national literature movements in this country.


Those leaders who came after Bandaranaike’s death did not have an iota of the insight or intuition that Bandaranaike had. All they wanted was to portray Bandaranaike as the sole creator of the ’56 revolution and obtain theproprietary rights for their own survival. It was no different from the claim made by Bandaranaike’s opponents who claimed that he came to power by promising to make Sinhala the official language in 24 hours and thereby had hood winked the nation.(Both of these belong to the category of ahistorical evaluations )Going further some leaders who led the party were keen to disown that civilizational foundation treating it as racism and chauvinism. Prominent among them was Chandrika Bandaranaike Kumaranatunga .She was supposed to ‘modernize’ the SLFP. In this she was aided by Western forces and the NGO bandwagon who were out to destroy the SLFP. Chandrika Kumaratunga has to bear much of the responsibility for the resent predicament of the SLFP.


Though all the leaders failed to provide the head required by the SLFP, there were two leaders who were capable of keeping the headless body intact without letting it disintegrate. They were Sirima Bandaranaike and MahindaRajapaksa, both powerful personalities well rooted in the culture of the country, and well aware of the anti imperialist nationalist basis of the SLFP. Their failure was the inability to articulate a political ideology in keeping with what they intuitively felt. The advisers they sought after were deracinated cosmopolitan liberals coming from the generation bequeathed by Macaulay.


The end result of this aimless, bewildered journey was to reduce the SLFP to one other party that was out to get power at any cost. Power seeking was the name of the game. If the Sinhala Buddhist label was of any use in that game, they were all out to use it. If that label was disadvantageous, it was dropped. The latest example of this is the statement madeby PresidentSirisena- ‘the SLFP cannot come to power by resenting itself as a Sinhala only party’.


It is by no means an easy task to evoke a political ideology, encompassing an economic and social policy based on the civilizational foundations of anation. It can’t be achieved by grafting some concepts borrowed from Marxism or Liberalism. Nor is it an exercise like formulating a constitution to be left to self –proclaimed legal luminaries and international experts. It should come out of an intellectual dialogue initiated by the national intelligentsia of the country. The SLFP in its long existence has never entertained such an idea. Their mentors have been those self –proclaimed legal luminaries and international experts. The bane ofthis country has been that this class has been allowed to arrogate to itself the role of advisors and purohitas for any regime that comes into power.


I wish to present some information which is relevant to this discussion. At the moment intellectual and political scientists are deliberating as to the political ideology that would suit nations with a long history and a virile civilizational foundation. Samuel Huntington’s Clash of Civilizations ,is an attempt to draw our attention to the civilizational forces in today’s politics. The author of When China rules the World has come out with a new concept, in dealing with the Chinese state. According to him, China is neither a Marxist state nor a liberal state. It is a civilizational state.


Dayan Jayatilleke has drawn our attention to the sub title - the national character- in Henry Kissinger’s latest book; New World Order.These should open our eyes that have been so far been glued to Marxism and liberalism as the only ideologies capable of bringing about our emancipation.


Can the SLFP avert this tragic end? Can the headless cadaver be prevented from facing dissolution? We shall know the answer in the near future.


 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
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