Democracy is a
term in vogue these days. All say they want democracy or they
want to save democracy.
This love for democracy is good. In fact, it has been ever
present among the people. The question arises when different
people mean different things by democracy. Then what some do to
save democracy may, in fact, work against democracy or destroy
democracy. Democracy is such a nice word close to the people’s
heart that even its destroyers would hide behind a facade of
History shows us many examples - Adolf Hitler, Benito
Mussolini, Augusto Pinochet, General Suharto etc. All of them
took power in the name of democracy, to save the people from the
horrors of Communism. They all were bloody fascists.
Today the UNP and the JVP have taken upon themselves the task
of saving democracy. From whom? From dictatorship of President
Mahinda Rajapaksa, they say. A strange dictator he should be for
the whole of Year 2009 was spent on elections and he won the
Presidential election with 58 percent of the vote.
What are the democratic credentials of the UNP and the JVP?
In the not too distant past, in the reign of terror during the
past years the 1980s they competed with each other in abducting,
torturing and summarily executing hundreds of youth. The
vigilantes of the UNP Government under various names such as
Black Cats, Green Tigers etc. and the “deshapremee” death squads
of Keerthi Wijebahu of the JVP had a field day then. Neither of
these two parties has accepted their guilt so far.
Self-criticism was something they never indulged in.
Now these two parties are spearheading a campaign on behalf
of former Army Commander and Chief of Defence Staff General
Sarath Fonseka. The latter was convincingly defeated at a poll
which is considered the most free and fair in recent history and
acknowledged as clean by local and foreign monitors as well as
the Elections Commissioner.
Karu Jayasuriya, Deputy Leader of the UNP is quite active
these days, summoning press conferences, giving media interviews
and meeting the Maha Nayakas and the diplomatic corp in an
attempt to discredit the Government and the country. He alleges
that the Government is carrying out a witch hunt of Opposition
loyalists and attacking and torturing them whereas there is
absolute calm and peace throughout the land.
Having failed to enlist the masses in a campaign denouncing
the election verdict as foul they are now attempting to
misinterpret the arrest of General Fonseka by the Army as an act
of personal vendetta as well as a blow on democracy.
For democracy to thrive law and order have to be preserved.
General Fonseka was arrested under the Military Act. Hence, the
due process of law should be allowed to function. To sabotage it
would mean undermining democracy and enshrining mob rule.
Further, they have taken the demonstrations to the premises of
the Supreme Court violating the sanctity of the Court.
Next, they are planning Satyagrahas opposite the Dalada
Maligawa, the most sacred place of Buddhist worship. It is a
shame for them to take a campaign of hatred and anger opposite
the most sacred shrine of the Buddha, the preacher of Maha
Karuna or Great Compassion.
It is not difficult to get a few hundred party cadres to
assemble and demonstrate against the State. The party cadres,
however, are not the people. Nor are party leaders the real
leaders of the people.
The support they had among the people was shown at the
elections. If the JVP believes they could aim at another short
cut to power it is sadly mistaken. It has always misread the
pulse of the people. In 1971 they rose against a popular
government and sacrificed the lives of many idealist patriotic
youth who sincerely believed in what they were told by their
Then again in 1989 they took up arms again and got decimated.
By these acts they only strengthened the conservative elite.
Now, they are at it again - seeking a short cut to power with
the help of a former Army Commander and a few disgruntled
The JVP, in spite of its professed adherence to
Marxism-Leninism has apparently forgotten or is unaware of the
Leninist dictum that behind every slogan lurks the interests of
a particular class in society.
It is the class interests of the pro-imperialist conservative
bourgeoisie and their NGO fellow-travelers that lie behind the
slogan of defending democracy and restoring good governance. The
ordinary masses though not aware of doctrinaire Marxism have the
common sense or class instinct to understand each and every
slogan in its correct perspective.