Bound by the chains of Blue Party rivalry


"Workers of the world unite … you have nothing to lose but your chains" – Karl Marx

This popularization of the last sentences in the Communist Manifesto was the great hope of the workers of this country too, who participated in the Labour Day and later May Day demonstrations and rallies, led by political parties that represented the working people; from A. E. Gunasinha who led the Labour Party, and subsequently the Marxists of the LSSP and later the CP. The colour of those May Day celebrations was red. This changed after Prime Minister S. W. R. D. Bandaranaike declared May Day a national holiday in 1956, and brought the blue colour to the May Day celebrations, and Green too became a May Day hue with the UNP trades unions celebrating their own May Days, very much in strength after 1977, and red making a comeback of sorts with the JVP’s colourful demonstrations.

At the May Day celebrations tomorrow, the focus will be on the political divisions in the country, having very little to do with the rights of workers, and much more on the power and preferences of politicians. The very thought of the Workers of Sri Lanka uniting is old hat. It seems time to forget about them losing their chains, but rather being tied down by even stronger chains of political division, especially of the blue variety.

Blue rivalry has pushed red unity to the very rear in May Day strategies. This rivalry is tied down by its own chains of party unity, in this case the unity of the SLFP, which has nothing to do with the unity of workers and peasants or the people at large.

The crowds at Galle and Kirulapone will be waving blue flags and carrying blue banners with slogans of party rivalry. The Hand symbol of the SLFP will certainly be cut in two - with the celebratory joy going to the division that gets a larger part of that divided hand.

The two platforms of this chained down rivalry will not have anyone who shows an interest in the betterment of the people. Big or small, they will all be confined to those who have gained the choice fruits of power, and others who seek those fruits by the strategies of division and not of unity.

These are people tied together with unquestioned joy by the chains of corruption, fraud and crimes against the people. On both sides are those who have once thrived and now thrive on nepotism, which the people wholly rejected. Giving brothers and cousins high offices of State, big places in diplomacy, and huge rents for office buildings, is the stuff of the chains that are common to these rivals of the Blue Brigade.

The clarion call of the Blue pack in Galle will be to strengthen the divided "Hand" of the official party leader, who’s much repeated quotes on good governance have little relevance to the reality of bad governance spreading its roots and tentacles around him.

The loud call at the other end in Kirulapone will be strengthen a leader, defeated by the people, but is determined to be a key player in a struggle to grab the same divided "Hand" of the party, and wrap it in the political shawl of well identified bribery, corruption, authoritarianism ... and the revival of a family tree of the contemptible in governance.

The people who will come in their thousands, whether in hired buses or vans and even in private transport, those who will have their spirits of cheer showered on them by organisers, will only have to cheer those who are either enjoying the power of governance in the country, and others who enjoy the powers and perks of a sovereign legislature.

We are promised many a change after the rivalry of tomorrow. That is the loud slogan of good governance today. But it is good to recall that these promises go in the order of -- the party first, the government second and the country third. That is where the people stand … last in line.

It is the assurance that we will remain tied down in the chains of corruption, nepotism … and yes, family bandyism, which we thought was over. We can be sure of the widening of people in power, in a Cabinet or otherwise; and for those just out of it the increase of pay, allowances and perks, even bigger cars and better ‘political massages’ on which there will be no increase in VAT.

Once all the excitement of the Blues of May Day rivalry are over, the Hand of leadership will remain divided, and more chains of corruption and political favouritism will be used to bind the people who call for a change to the better.

Workers of Sri Lanka … it will take much more time and struggle to lose your chains.

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