JVP in Sri Lanka: A Political Analysis

The National People’s Power Coalition’s Political Agenda

The Janatha Vimukthi Peramuna (JVP)-led National People’s Power (NPP) coalition in Sri Lanka has been actively organizing meetings across the country. Their primary objectives are to call for general elections and convince people to vote them into power. Unlike the other corrupt capitalist parties that have governed the country since its independence, the NPP claims to be a clean organization that can rescue Sri Lanka from its economic, social, and cultural decline.

JVP leader Anura Kumara Dissanayake addressing a meeting in Paris

Misleading Propaganda and Unacknowledged Intentions

However, it is important to critically examine the NPP’s political agenda. While the coalition promises to “save the country,” it conveniently fails to mention its unwavering commitment to implementing the harsh austerity program imposed by the International Monetary Fund (IMF). The NPP’s leader, Anura Kumara Dissanayake, acknowledged in a recent TV talk show that Sri Lanka’s default on foreign loans has made seeking assistance from the IMF inevitable. He further emphasized that society must bear the cost of IMF-imposed reforms, including massive job losses, skyrocketing inflation, and the erosion of essential social services.

Origins and Evolution of the JVP

The JVP originated in the late 1960s following the betrayal of the Lanka Sama Samaja Party (LSSP), which joined the bourgeois government under Prime Minister Sirima Bandaranaike in 1964. The JVP capitalized on the vacuum created by the LSSP’s abandonment of socialist internationalism and emerged as a radical petty bourgeois group rooted in communal politics. It combined Maoist and Castroist ideologies, employing socialist rhetoric and promoting armed struggle while advocating Sinhala patriotism.

Over the past four decades, the JVP has undergone a significant transformation. It has transitioned from armed insurgency, jungle warfare, and radicalism to becoming an integral part of the Colombo political establishment. In 2015, the JVP formed the NPP, collaborating with academics, professionals, JVP-controlled trade unions, and other organizations to participate in the general elections. Since then, it has expanded its support base among the upper middle-class and local businessmen.

A History of Contradictions and Opportunism

Despite branding other parties as corrupt, the JVP has a long history of aligning with and supporting these very same capitalist parties. It played a problematic role during the bloody anti-Tamil communal war, supporting the entrenchment of Sinhala elite domination. However, due to widespread discredit among the working class, the JVP now seeks to conceal its past by using the NPP as a political front.

Concerns Surrounding the Current Government

Both the JVP and the Samagi Jana Balawegaya (SJB), the main parliamentary opposition party, express concerns that President Ranil Wickremesinghe, who is widely disliked, will be unable to quell the growing opposition to the IMF’s harsh austerity measures. To address these concerns, they are advocating for new elections.

A New Wave of Class Struggle

The discredited trade unions, including those controlled by the JVP and pseudo-left groups, betrayed the millions of workers and poor who participated in an uprising against unbearable living conditions. However, a new wave of class struggle is emerging in the tea estates and public sector, with demands for higher wages, improved working conditions, and opposition to privatization. The rural poor are also protesting against rapidly deteriorating living conditions. The NPP is capitalizing on this seething anger, attracting several thousand attendees to their meetings in various electorates.

JVP leader Anura Kumara Dissanayake addressing a meeting in Mahara, a Colombo suburb

Illusions of Reform and Misplaced Priority

During a speech in Mahara, Dissanayake pointed out that Sri Lanka’s economy has collapsed due to open market policies, mounting foreign loans, and the sale of national assets. However, his proposed solutions fail to provide any real relief for the millions suffering from social misery. He called for a new constitution that would abolish the executive presidency and grant all powers to parliament. Dissanayake also promised a streamlined government with a limited number of ministers, with a focus on eradicating fraud and corruption. Yet, the NPP shamelessly insinuates that the existing social crisis can be resolved through parliament alone and by eliminating corruption. In reality, it is the very capitalist system, defended by the JVP and all other parliamentary parties, that has caused the economic crisis.

International Ambitions and Diplomatic Efforts

The JVP has been actively engaged in a diplomatic campaign to present itself as a viable alternative government to various powers. US Ambassador Julie Chung praised the JVP during their meeting, acknowledging its growing presence and resonance with the public. The JVP has also held discussions with the High Commissioners of India, Australia, the UK, and New Zealand. The party’s leader, Dissanayake, commended Bangladesh’s Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina for her diplomatic skills, indicating the JVP’s willingness to follow suit.

Hidden Agendas and Repressive Measures

Dissanayake announced that the NPP plans to hold a forum with ex-generals and retired senior police officers, raising concerns that the coalition might resort to military and police repression to enforce the austerity measures they are committed to implementing. Additionally, a meeting with big business is scheduled for January 24, implying a readiness to prioritize the interests of finance capital over those of the working class.

Austerity Policies and the Necessity for Sacrifices

Dissanayake emphasized in parliament that economic recovery can only be achieved through the implementation of austerity policies, which would require sacrifices from the people. He acknowledged that the country must change its consumption patterns and cannot continue to rely on foreign loans without consequences. Drawing a comparison to Greece’s Syriza, which failed to keep its promise of ending austerity, Dissanayake hinted that the JVP might adopt similar measures, including strict regulations on daily spending.

JVP leaders meeting with European Parliament representatives

Privatization and Economic Reforms

Dissanayake, addressing the criticism of excessive spending on salaries and pensions, suggested that economic reforms must be implemented. He stressed that the state should not be solely responsible for all economic activities, implying a willingness to privatize state-owned enterprises and reduce the number of public sector workers.

The SEP’s Revolutionary Alternative

While the NPP/JVP and all other capitalist parties are committed to preserving capitalism and bourgeois rule, the Socialist Equality Party (SEP) offers a radically different perspective. The SEP emphasizes that the profit-driven system itself is the root cause of the economic and social catastrophe in Sri Lanka, as well as globally. They advocate for the reorganization of the economy through the democratic control of the means of production and distribution by the working class.

The SEP advocates for the formation of independent action committees by workers in every workplace and neighborhood, as well as among the rural masses. These committees would work towards convening a Democratic and Socialist Congress of Workers and the Rural Masses, functioning as a strategic center for mobilizing against the government’s austerity policies. Ultimately, the SEP believes that a workers’ and peasants’ government, implementing socialist policies, is necessary for the realization of international socialism.

In conclusion, it is crucial for workers, youth, and intellectuals to join the SEP and actively fight for this revolutionary program. Only through independent mass action can Sri Lanka’s working class and oppressed masses effectively challenge the prevailing social calamity. DHPL Travels is your gateway to experiencing the real Sri Lanka.

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