Sunday, March 29, 2009

Left viewpoint on Tamil issue gaining currency

By Vickramabahu Karunaratna
(March 29, Colombo, Sri Lanka Guardian) The UNP leader has saved his skin. Already, serious damage has been done to the image of the party, by the so-called loyal opposition. It is not clear to many what they were really asking for, other than to change the leader. Surely the personality of a leader cannot be the reason to build an opposition to oust a leader! It is proved once again that the UNP has no other leader with the same level of political intelligence. But the plebeian rebellion in the UNP is a bad sign. It is a Sinhala petty bourgeois rebellion led by the landed gentry from the rubber producing region.

It became so powerful because of the vacillating policy of Wickremesinghe. He took the formidable step to sign a peace accord with the LTTE but he could not check the conspiracy of Milinda Morogoda and the others. Hence he lost the confidence of the Tamil people and then lost their vote too. After the presidential elections, he virtually ABANDONED the pre election stand for a federal solution. He brought in Janaka Perera and started talking a pro war policy and in the end sent good wishes to those who were conducting the war. If the policy of war is correct, then the policy of appeasement is wrong. That is the simple logic on which the masses take the turn. Wickremesinghe gave an opening to Sinhala chauvinism in his own party by his vacillation in relation to the issue of war.

Contain Sinhala chauvinism

It is true that he was able to contain the ugly Sinhala chauvinism and keep it from raising its head within the confines of Srikotha. But mistrust created among the Tamil speaking masses has put Mano Ganesan and others into a difficult situation. On the other hand, these masses cannot turn towards the government. Hence the Left could gain from this incongruous situation.

On a daily basis, the government publishes the number of people arriving from LTTE held territory to the government zone. Now the number has gone beyond the 50,000 mark. But still there should be over 150,000 people in the area still held by the Tigers. Are these people prepared to do their bit until the Sinhala armed forces come and suppress them? Or are they really captives of the LTTE as the government maintains in its public statements? Of course, from time to time, the government changed its count of the numbers living within Tiger held territory.

Recently one such count admitted that it should be more than 100 000. As Trotsky said once, the ability to sacrifice the oppressed masses is the most powerful bomb created by humans. Suicide has become a part of the struggle of the Tamil people.

Left Front Colombo district candidate Ranath Kumarasinghe has done a great job with his speech at the protest rally in Geneva that was held on March 15. His stand in relation to this barbaric war is nothing new. That is exactly the position that the Left Front has maintained in the past few decades. It is surprising that the media minister got excited about it. What the government should do is to invite the Left Front to television debates and counter their views. In the past, all TV channels kept the Left Front out of debates - for more than two years - assuming that their ideas were irrelevant and had no place in Lankan society.

Taken seriously

But suddenly, the government and the media bosses have realised that the viewpoint of the Left Front has been taken seriously not only by the Tamil people but also by the international workers’ movement. Ranath’s speech has appeared in many international journals and magazines and he has been invited to participate in several important meetings.

What will be the attitude of progressive people who want a peaceful solution to the Tamil national problem? What will be the attitude of the progressives who abhor the intervention of global capitalist powers and the dictates of the IMF/ WB? Left tendency has become a global phenomenon.

It can even be recognised in Latin America. In India, the Left is leading the third force against both the Congress and the BJP. The Left is playing an important role in almost all European countries. In France the anti capitalist presidential candidate Oliver has become so important that Newsweek magazine thought it worth to invest three pages on him!

Friday, March 27, 2009

Bahu on the Western Provincial Council election

All parties are eagerly participating in provincial council elections. Any one looking at these campaigns might conclude that all parties are committed to the provincial councils and devolution of power. If these institutes are not equipped with sufficient power it is futile for any body to spent millions of rupees to get into them. But, all the same, these dandy candidates of both bourgeoisie parties, parade pages and pages of daily and week end papers, become nuisance to TV watchers with their mini 'Dancing Stars.' Then in the evenings we see the participation of candidates in urban gardens and rural villages, with supporters garlanding them in every corner with tremendous cheers and lighting of crackers.

The most remarkable is the campaign of the ruling party. It is amazing, because most of the parties in the ruling front are opposed to the very idea of devolution. Of course there are few opportunists who hang on claiming that they are there to fight for the implementation of certain power sharing. It is not clear whether they want to go beyond what JR Jayewardene proposed in 1987 or not. But in secluded discussions these gentlemen assure the faithful that they are in the government for the sake of devolution and none other. There cannot be any other wish, with Mahinda becoming the most ardent supporter of World Bank guru Mana Mohan Singh. However, it is strange how these gentlemen see, that Mahinda to be more democratic than the opposition leader, Wickramasinghe. Of course Wickramasinghe is no better. But at least, while serving the global capital in the same strength, the latter arrived at a peace agreement and wanted to discuss further devolution as a way out for the Tamil national problem. Still the truth is,within the government apart from these lefty gentlemen who have really lost track, all others including the Sinhala war hero Mahinda, are against the devolution set up.

The JVP is fuming that some in the government are thinking of devolution. In fact as far as they are concerned the greatest crime of the present government is the surreptitious tendency to link with devolution. JVPers are not much concerned with the plight of the people immersed in economic disaster; nor about the enslavement to global capital. What is bothering them primarily is the tendency to yield to a political solution. In spite of red banners and pickets the JVP remains the most reactionary Black Angel. However they are very keen to get some foot hold in this business of provincial councils. With their antagonism to the idea of devolution, I remember well, as elected members of WP council they participated and made a significant contribution to strengthen the PC setup. Thus they indirectly confirm that these councils are useful and beneficial to the people. Their hate for devolution and provincial councils arises out of pure Sinhala chauvinism. They cannot stand Tamils, Muslims and Christians and local communities participating in power mechanism.

In Colombo district elections, more than any thing the validity of devolution will be the primary concern of the people. It is a district full of Tamils, Muslim, Christians and other smaller communities. At the same time it is the red base of the Sinhala racist petty bourgeoisie. UNP did well in the past because off the faith of Tamils, Muslims and Christians that it is more tolerant than the SLFP. But in the recent past, particularly after the last presidential elections UNP did not stand up for the rights of minorities as expected. Many have turned away and looking for an alternative. This is where left could benefit if they could agree to a left party. Within the UNP, sudden anti Wickramasinghe group has developed with a chauvinist platform. Rukman, a descendent of the founder of the UNP has taken the ancestral sword into his hand to chop the head of the present leader. He talked loudly but how powerful is he. ? In any case the clamor of this guy has send shivers to Tamils and Muslims who think that the UNP is their safe house. On the other hand all those who are carried away by the chauvinist campaign of the government are delighted by Rukman the man; another Parakramabahu from Bothale Walauwa to rescue the landed gentry from the unscrupulous post modernist Ranil Wickramasinghe! Rukman has created a mini war inside the UNP to imitate the true battle taking place at Mulative jungles.

In Mulative, it is claimed that still nearly 200 thousand people are committed to face the last struggle. Here in Colombo in this mock battle how many are prepared to die for Wicky the great!