"JVP’s help to rightwing politics" – A clarification



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Ref. The opinion piece titled "JVP’s help to rightwing politics" by attorney-at-law Nimal de Alwis (The Island/March 13, 2018). My sincere thanks to the writer for the illuminating comments that he’s made on my previous opinion piece under the heading "JVP at a crossroads (March 7, 2018). However, I’d like to make a clarification regarding what he calls "two incorrect facts" allegedly contained in my article. Let me deal with the second of the two alleged errors:


I never wrote "the Democratic Republic of Sri Lanka" sans the word "Socialist", as the writer asserts. What I wrote was:


"However, it indirectly influenced the character of the republican constitution of 1972, which turned the country into the Democratic Socialist Republic of Sri Lanka from its dominion status under the Soulbury constitution."


The complaint is obviously due to a slight oversight on the part of Mr de Alwis. He could check this up by looking back at the relevant past issue of The Island (Wednesday 11, 2018).


The answer to the more important first "error" pointed out is this: Mr de Alwis quotes from my opinion piece – ‘JVP at a crossroads’ - as follows: "It says "The pioneering stalwarts (here meaning left parties = mainly the LSSP and the CP) from time to time made alliances with the SLFP and the UNP". Mr de Alwis’s parenthetical elucidation is, I am afraid, erroneous. Following is what I actually wrote:


"The pioneering stalwarts moderated their revolutionary fervor and from time to time formed alliances with the SLFP and the UNP."


By the "pioneering stalwarts" I did not mean "left parties"; I meant ‘left stalwarts’ – i.e., leading dedicated, hardworking, dependable supporters of the left movement – e.g., legendary left politicians such as the ‘Father of Marxism’ in Ceylon (Sri Lanka) Philip Gunawardane, Dr N.M. Perera, Dr Colvin R de Silva, Pieter Keuneman, Leslie Gunawardane, N. Shanmugathasan, and labour union leaders such as A. E. Gunasinghe, Bala Tampoe, L. W. Panditha (all of them dead and gone) and the late Alawi Moulana of the recent past, etc. Principled left politicians such as D.E.W. Gunasekera, Professor Tissa Vitharana, Vasudeva Nanayakkara, and others still living also belong to the "old left" that those pioneers introduced and brought to bear on the government of the country, particularly after independence, in positive progressive ways. During the 1986-90 second uprising the JVP physically eliminated a number of politicians and trade union leaders of the traditional left who they considered to be against their line of thinking. The largest number of their victims were from the LSSP and the CP and a few from the SLFP (as described in Chapter 30 of the book (Sinhala) "javipe 2veni kaeraelle" mentioned in my article between pp. 352-431).


Mr de Alwi’s allegation that the word "Socialist" was retained in the 1977 (1978 actually) constitution, that is, the current one, in order to "to fool the people, and hide the true intention of the architects of that constitution" may be true. The supposed principal drafter of the 1978 republican constitution was a political science professor by the name of A.J. Wilson. I don’t think he was a legal expert, although he was a UK qualified academic in economics and political science. He served at Peradeniya as political science professor before he migrated to Canada, where he died in the year 2000. Now, he was the son-in-law of the old Tamil politician (who had himself migrated to Sri Lanka from Malaysia) who founded the Tamil State Party or the Federal Party (this second name is actually a misnomer). It is doubtful whether this brilliant honourable academic brought his family relationship with the senior politician to bear on the advisory role he played during the making of the 1978 second republican constitution at the request of president J.R. Jayawardane. The principal drafter of the first republican constitution of 1972 was Dr Colvin R. de Silva, a celebrated lawyer and constitutional expert, and a leftist politician of the old guard that the JVP had been criticizing. In 1978, the emphasis was on a rightward economic revolution. How much ‘socialism’ from 1972 was admitted into the new constitution so as at least to win over the JVP pioneers (Rohana Wijeweera and them) whom JR freed from jail and started using against the SLFP with or without their knowledge is not known..


I must also answer the other part of Mr de Alwis’s question. He writes: "The LSSP and the CP or any of their splinter groups never made any political alliance with the UNP". It could be that he took the word ‘alliance’ that I used in the sentence quoted above (from my article) too formally or too technically. I used the word rather loosely. Why, didn’t Philip Gunawardane, the Father of Marxism, join the UNP under Dudley Senanayake and serve as the cabinet Minister of Industries and Fisheries (1965-1970)? Probably, this does not come within the ambit of what Mr de Alwis would consider to be a political alliance?


Rohana R. Wasala


 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
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