25 June 2015

The JVP now owns ‘The Old Left’

In a parallel universe Anura might wonder, 'What would Wijeweera say?'
First there was the Left.  It was still ‘Left’ even though those bunched at that end of the political spectrum disagreed vehemently and took turns at calling each other Running Dogs of Imperialism and other lovely names.  Then came the JVP.  

Originally the product of a split, the JVP dis/relocated itself in ideological and methodological ways that made common lumping tough. Sure, they too were called bad names from others who considered themselves ‘Left’ but the JVP was also called ‘CIA agents’ and their politics described as ‘an infantile disorder’.  

One thing is agreed upon by all. The JVP was different.  It was so different than an adjective was required to differentiate the party from the Communist Party or rather ‘parties,’ the LSSP and the other claimants to be the Sri Lankan branch of the ‘4th International’.  That’s how we got the broad separation ‘Old’ and ‘New’.  The JVP was ‘New’.  The rest were ‘Old’.  In time the ‘new’ was dropped, but the ‘old’ remained.  The JVP, since it was never categories with those other left parties was not considered part of the ‘Old Left’.  So there was the Old Left and there was the JVP.

A lot of time has passed.  The JVP has passed the half-century mark.  Two failed insurrections, a lot of blood on their hands as well as responsibility for the human resource crisis this country is suffering from and little or no gain for the constituency to show for 50 years of ‘struggle’ doesn’t make exciting revolutionary literature.  

The JVP has had its moments of glory too.  The 17th Amendment (the only democratising amendment until then) was one.  The JVP was a critical factor in ousting the Tiger-friendly UNP Government of 2001-2004.  The JVP also offered crucial support to Mahinda Rajapaksa which went a long way in securing the political stability necessary to  take on the LTTE.  

For all this, the JVP has not shown that it is any different to the Old Left over the past 25 years.  It has, like the CP and LSSP offered a bit of color to the SLFP from time to time.  It’s contributions to constitutional amendment can also be compared to the work of the Old Left in the United Front Government led by Sirimavo Bandaranaike, at least in the initial stages.  That’s about it.  Whatever else that was ‘positive’ has been erased by the negatives in the equation courtesy the JVP’s student wing.  

As of now, the JVP has shed all democratic pretensions.  It has been reduced to a party which, for all the anti-UNP rhetoric dished out to the faithful, is happily playing role of echo and tail to Ranil’s voice and the UNP dog, respectively.  ‘Wag!’ the UNP’s Working Committee says and the JVP does just that.  ‘Dissolve!’ screams Ranil and Anura’s voice repeats, ‘Dissolve…..solve….olve….’  

It’s all about clutching at parliamentary straws.  The JVP needs the 20th Amendment scuttled so that the PR system is kept intact and with it earn the right to hope for a few seats in the next Parliament.  In 2010 the JVP needed to hang on to Sarath Fonseka to save face.  Do not be surprised if the JVP joins a UNP-led coalition.  They will no doubt say ‘in the name of democracy’ by way of dealing with the embarrassment of siding with THE Right Wing Party of the country.  On the other hand, if one goes with performance, the SLFP has not been less ‘Right’ and the JVP bedded with that party too.

All this is interesting of course.  It does not hide the fact that the JVP has aged.  It has won membership in the Old Boys’ Club, ‘The Old Left’.  Perhaps only because those who ran that particular show are no longer around or have made themselves irrelevant.  Well, that’s the future that the JVP is looking at now.