JVP trying to hijack new political wave - Former JVP MP Achala Jagoda | Sunday Observer

JVP trying to hijack new political wave - Former JVP MP Achala Jagoda

19 February, 2023

The Janatha Vimukthi Peramuna (JVP) has a backward mentality that does not suit modern times, former JVP Member of Parliament Achala Jagoda told the Sunday Observer in an interview.

“There is no room in the JVP for innovative people who like to develop new ideas. I have not seen the JVP working with a clear vision in the modern political milieu,” said Jagoda, who left the JVP in 2008 after being an MP for 16 years. He played a major role in reviving the fortunes of the JVP after the party faced major setbacks following the death of its leader Rohana Wijeweera.

Excerpts from the interview

Q: In 1989 the JVP faced a significant setback. Would you like to recall your efforts at the time to revive the party?

The JVP all but collapsed in 1989 when Comrade Rohana Wijeweera died. Only a handful of members remained in the party but we envisioned that the JVP could take a step towards democratic politics by entering the 1994 elections. We protected the party till then and entered the democratic path. We contested that election by joining hands with the Sri Lanka Progressive Front. I was the Colombo district leader. We received around 100,000 votes at that time.

Q: You were an MP continuously for 16 years. But in 2008 you left the JVP. Why?

In 1997 I was appointed as the propaganda organiser of the Ratnapura district. I was able to strengthen the party at the grassroots level. By 2001 the party managed to win seats in Parliament. In 2004 the party joined an alliance with the SLFP at its helm. We saw the people’s trust in the party through the votes received. However, there was no proper management of this opportunity.

The party did not focus on the issues faced by the people or attempted to win them over. Instead, they seemed more bothered by internal party issues. The people voted for the JVP as they agreed with the party’s stance on the national issue. They expected the party to take steps to ensure that stance is achieved. But instead, a divide arose within the party as it continued to focus on other matters. This is why I left the party.

Q: Many senior JVPers left the party due to ideological differences within the party. What did they not agree on?

There are some common reasons for this. Today’s party leadership has a backwards mentality. That is why they are attempting to keep the party hierarchy lean. There was no opportunity for those who can work within the party. Party cadres were forcefully moulded into the same type of character. The inability to work with those who have different thinking patterns and ideologies led to various rifts within the party and caused seniors to leave.

Q: What is your comment on the party leadership today?

Although the ultimate goal of the majority is the same, there may be differences in the personal manners or methods in which to achieve it. But treating such persons differently and considering them as tribal is an unfortunate situation.

Q: Do you mean to say the JVP has tribal ideologies?

I do not agree with some politically. The JVP has no vision to retain party cadres and ensure the party’s victory. We must take into consideration how many of those who joined the party later remain in it today. It has more ex-members than members now. People leave the party faster than they join it. They do not appear to have the ability to retain those with unbiased opinions.

Q: Is the JVP today a truly leftist party?

Even leftist political parties adopt tactical political practices and can thus change according to the situation. But they must be used for the betterment of the country, the people and the party. But considering their tactics, their seats in Parliament have dropped to a mere three slots. The JVP has failed to understand the aspirations of the working classes and convert them into a victory.

Q: The JVP has never managed to make significant gains at the polls. Why?

The JVP in a past election asked the people to give them the power of a local Government body. The Tissamaharama people trusted them and responded to this request. But after this, they never won control of any local Government body. It is evident there is an issue then. Had they used Tissamaharama as a model to set an example and display their abilities the people of the area would not have voted for another party later.

Q: Do you think the JVP has the vision to rebuild the country?

It is an issue of the party’s maturity. The JVP has the same slogans and it does not appear they have a vision in the current political context. They have not focused on international factors or even thought of how to fix the country’s economy. They are merely creating a wave of hatred and have no program to benefit the people.

Q: Do you think the people have any trust in the JVP as a leftist political camp?

They have mixed up left and right today. Though they claim to be against capitalist agendas they have provided candidacy to persons from such backgrounds. Any political ideology faces transformations over the years. This capitalist society is in crisis on a global scale. Therefore, our political reading must also change in the social system of the world. Same with Lenin and Marx. Communism is what is at the end of developed capitalism. Today Ranil Wickremesinghe is closer to communism than the current JVP.

Q: The JVP claims it can win in the upcoming local Government election and will depose the current Government. Can they create any impact on the Government through the elections?

No party will be able to gain power in a Local Government body on its own this time around. They will have to form alliances but the JVP claims it will not join with another party. But invariably any alliance with the President as the support of the executive is needed even at the local Government level.

The JVP knows there is now a wave of change among the people. This is how the former President was ousted. The same wave brought Maithripala Sirisena into power. But it has now been converted into a wave of hatred against the fullers. The JVP is attempting to hijack this wave.

Q: Some claim the JVP only has slogans. Therefore, can the party resolve the current crisis? Does it have the necessary vision and capability?

The crisis is beyond the abilities of the JVP. Now they are even using slogans of political camps we rejected back then. That is not the correct path. We must go before society and search for answers. A party needs such a broad vision. The JVP is not taking the correct path by adopting the slogans of diluted and failed political parties.