country, a historic task
They stomached a lot of insults - they were once told they had no
appointment with her. Once they were asked to come later, and they
had to kick their heels at the Galle Face promenade until she deigned
to meet the hierarchy.
eventually, the JVP got their job done - they got President Chandrika
Kumaratunga to have her secretary sign on the dotted line - the
second MoU between themselves in three years. The President too
stomached a lot.
1971 they tried to topple her mother's government and in 1988, they
killed her popular actor-turned-politician husband for his scathing
criticism of the JVP at the time. But then, politics do make strange
bedfellows, and the JVP clearly has turned a new chapter. They are
keen to shift from their strictly Marxist posture to one of Marxist-Nationalism.
once India bashing party, now say that Marxism is not permanent,
and refers to India as a country to emulate, mixing socialism with
market economics. Only this week President Vladimir Putin bestowed
the President of the World Bank James Wolfensohn with a state Order
of Friendship. at a ceremony in the Marxist fatherland in return
for a 10 billion dollar loan.
is difficult to deny the JVP a place in the sun and their belief
that the Boomi-putras must be encouraged strikes a chord with the
displaced and neglected thousands who have become the victims of
clamour that local industries must be given its due place is a justifiable
demand given the government's over-reliance on a western-dominated
world economic order and a blatantly pro-US stance to bail this
country out of its economic doldrums.
also have an argument in complaining that the country, on the eve
of its 56th anniversary of regaining Independence, is slowly being
blocked out and sold free-hold to foreigners - the ramparted fort
at Galle - a Unesco World Heritage site is a case in point. The
selling Sri Lanka concept has probably been taken literally.
realistic are these JVP demands is another matter given the stark
reality that President Kumaratunga's last few months in 2001 with
a JVP 'provisional government' overseeing it, saw the international
lending agencies virtually close the foreign aid tap, and the country
ending up - for the first time since Independence - with a zero
of the alliance say that the JVP ought to be brought to the centre-stage
of statecraft and made to carry the onerous duties of governance
rather than being kept forever on the fringe, frustrated and fuming.
believe that the country is being propelled back to the 1980s when
Sri Lanka broke a world record in having two parallel insurgencies.
What we see now is, arguably, a positive sign - the LTTE and the
JVP, the perpetrators of the unadulterated violence of the 1980s,
signalling some commitment to mainstream politics.
greater the burden on President Kumaratunga and Prime Minister R.
Wickremesinghe to bridge the divide and unify the country. This
will be the historic task of our contemporary times on the eve of
our 56 years of Independence.