Timely opportunity for JVP
PRESIDENT Mahinda Rajapaksa’s
appeal to the Janatha Vimukthi Peramuna (JVP) and indeed, all
other political parties to join the Government at least for an
initial period of one year could not have been made at a more
The country is on the verge of beginning a massive
development drive as well as finding a solution to the vexed
ethnic conflict through the All Party Representative Committee (APRC)
process. This is clearly not the time for political bickering as
nothing less than the country’s future is at stake.
The JVP must keep in mind that they came to Parliament in
2004 as a coalition partner of the United People’s Freedom
Alliance. If not for that partnership with the Sri Lanka Freedom
Party, it is highly unlikely that 39 JVP MPs would be sitting in
the House today. In effect, the people gave a mandate to the JVP
to share power at the highest level.
During the brief period that the JVP held ministerial
portfolios, they showed a clear capacity for work.
Some of the concepts introduced by JVP Ministers including
the Dahasak Wev (Thousand Tanks) programme were indeed
praiseworthy and are being continued by their successors.
Although the JVP leaders have pledged support for the
Government for its ‘good’ initiatives and has voted with the
Government on several occasions, it would be far better for the
party to return to the fold and work from within to achieve some
of its objectives.
There are many commonalities between the Mahinda Chinthana
and the JVP’s own programme. Both the SLFP and the JVP can find
common ground on many issues.
The newly-started food production drive is a case in point.
The emphasis of the food drive is on increasing local production
of foodstuffs and ultimately, limiting or stopping imports of
many varieties of food that can be sourced locally. This is
exactly what the JVP has espoused.
Similarly, there are many common points in both parties’
views on resolving the ethnic conflict. It is a pity that the
JVP was not involved in the APRC process. It would have been the
ideal platform for the JVP to spell out its concerns and
Having missed the APRC bus, the JVP will still be able to
participate actively in forging a consensus on the ethnic issue
if they re-enter the Government. Some JVP leaders have been
quoted calling for a military solution, but the party has never
been opposed to a negotiated settlement per se.
The Government, on its part, must listen to the grievances
and proposals of the JVP with an open mind and accommodate such
ideas if possible. It will necessarily be a process of give and
take and the ultimate aim should be the uplift of the Nation as
the President has explained.
Although the President’s appeal was primarily aimed at the
JVP, there is no reason why it cannot apply to other political
parties as well.
Seventeen UNPers are already with the Government and some
other parties which are not members of the UPFA are supportive
of the Government. The time has come for the UNP to ponder its
actions in the current context.
Opposing the Government even to the extent of trying to block
international aid and loans will affect the populace, a
substantial segment of whom voted for the UNP and other
The UNP’s role must be that of an Opposition which offers
constructive criticism. It should support the Government’s
initiatives as long as they are people-oriented. The Opposition
must remember it is a Government-in-waiting. It should not wait
to throw its weight behind the Government if the beneficiaries
are the people of this isle.