JVP cannot fill Leftist vacuum - Former JVP MP S. Amerasinghe | Sunday Observer

JVP cannot fill Leftist vacuum - Former JVP MP S. Amerasinghe

12 February, 2023

In an interview with the Sunday Observer, former Janatha Vimukthi Peramuna (JVP) Member of Parliament (MP) S. Amerasinghe said that today’s JVP has no proper policies on national issues and it is no longer based on its founding principles and policies. Amerasinghe is the only person in active politics today from the group that went to prison with leader Rohana Wijeweera.

“The people are not confident enough in the JVP to give their vote. It has become an ordinary political party that upholds capitalism,” he said.

Excerpts from the interview

Q: You left the JVP that you worked hard to build in 2006. What is your opinion of the party’s current path?

A: I joined the JVP in 1973. Even after leaving the country in 1989, I continued to work for the party and even after that when the party rebuilding efforts were underway. I was with the party till the ban on it was lifted and it was allowed to contest at the polls. Today the JVP is a party that has forgotten its founding principles. Now I see JVP as a kind of normal political party that has undergone revision and accepted liberal democracy and revisionism.

Q: Do you mean to say the JVP has left behind its leftist political ideology?

A: Yes. There is no Left today. Not even a semblance of the Left has been left in Sri Lanka now. They do not speak of the proletariat coming into power. Instead, they have accepted Parliamentary democracy. They have gone backwards ideologically. They are simply highlighting the issues of governments that are in search of short-term solutions instead of doing anything meaningful. There are no major aims or hopes. The JVP claims the people have banded together around it but I can already predict the outcome of the Local Government (LG) polls. The opinion of the people will be visible on election day.

Q: What is your opinion regarding the JVP’s acceptance of Parliamentary democracy as a progressive force?

A: It was a tactic to gain power. But it has not been a successful tactic. It is fine if they choose to accept the Parliament and use it to reach their political aims. But though the JVP claims to be a Leftist party that has distanced itself from international political ideologies, today it is not an ideologically Leftist movement. Following the 1971 insurrection, no prominent Leftist movement was created in Sri Lanka. There is an opportunity for such a moment. Though the frontliners attempted to fill this vacuum, they have not been able to. The JVP is a party of many broken-away factions now. The JVP definitely cannot fill this vacuum anymore. Those who realised the JVP is not capable of this have left the party.

Q: The JVP which once opposed the 13A is now speaking in favour of it. Your comment?

A: These statements are not being made by those who have any understanding of the JVP. They do not know of its policies or history. The internal policies of the JVP have changed. It will only lead to the destruction of the country and the party. The 13A must not go ahead. The JVP has no policies or principles now. They are merely attempting to increase their seats in Parliament. They also want to increase the number of their LG Councillors to increase the revenue of the party.

Q: How are you certain the JVP has no policies or principles now?

A: It has no sustainable policies. No administrative program. The current policies cannot be made into reality. Even if it did have a policy it cannot work alone. Even if they do win at the LG polls it needs Government funds. The JVP however has a knack for inciting the youth.

Q: The JVP claims the upcoming LG polls will deliver a decisive decision to change the country’s political power structure. Your comment?

A: They always claim this close to elections but nothing happens in the end. The JVP is merely attempting to gain control of the countrywide LG bodies to disrupt the work done by them. No proposal will go forward as long as the JVP is involved. They cannot carry out the work of a Municipal Council but neither will they allow others to carry out the work. Their only intention is to ensure the dissolution of Parliament and to increase the number of their seats in the legislature.

Q: Some of those who left the party claim it has lost its credibility after 2006. Is there any truth to it?

A: My opinion is that it was lost in 2005 when they helped former President Mahinda Rajapaksa to come to power and won 41 seats as a result of it. There is nothing wrong with the tactic had it been used correctly. But after 2004 their tactics lacked maturity and so did those in the party Politburo. They were not able to win a single LG body at the time except for Tissamaharama. They then commenced engaging in politics of hatred. I left the party at the time. Later Nandana Gunathilake, Wimal Weerawansa, Kumar Gunaratnam and Somawansha Amarasinghe all left the party. I cannot fathom why some people continue to remain with the party and continue to place their hopes on it.

Q: Former JVP cadres claim that those wearing tie and coats do not have an understanding of the working classes and therefore the party has no clear direction now. Can a political change take place through a struggle with no clear leader?

A: No, it cannot happen. The best example is July 9, 2022. This only led to the further downfall of the country. Now the only thing left to do is rebuild the country.

Q: There are also claims the JVP is not capable of rebuilding the country and it has no international connections. Your comment?

A: International relations can be forged in a short period of time. But the question is when the JVP will be able to secure 6.9 million or more votes. Can the JVP ever achieve that even when they cannot gain power of a single Provincial Council, is my question.

Q: Why did you get disillusioned with the JVP?

A: I left the party as I felt I cannot personally work with them. I cannot agree with their current political ideology and activities. This is why the JVP is breaking off into various sections now. Those in the party are not aware of its founding principles. Everyone who was with the party at its inception has now left, more or less. The JVP today has now become just another political party formed with the aim of gaining power at any cost.

Q: Why do people not vote for the JVP in massive numbers despite their attractive speeches at propaganda rallies?

A: The JVP cannot work as a Government per se. People like to listen to idealistic speeches but not many believe that these can be turned into reality or fact. Even though some may vote for the party this time around, generally this is why the people do not vote for the JVP at any poll.