JVP spoiling its own chances by playing the spoiler

PRESIDENT Chandrika Kumaratunga has had enough of the spoiler role of the JVP, her junior partner in government.

By Dateline Colombo By Keith Noyahr

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Published: Tue 31 May 2005, 10:22 AM

Last updated: Thu 2 Apr 2015, 3:22 PM

On Sunday she made it clear to the people that there was no time to hear the voice of the 'extremists' against the setting up of a 'joint mechanism' to grant relief to tsunami-hit districts of the North and East. She said they represent only five per cent of the population.

This bold stand by Kumaratunga has the backing of the international community. She has the world's super power the United States behind her on the mechanism. Former US President Bill Clinton who is also UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan's special envoy on tsunami relief said he strongly supports President Kumaratunga's call for a Joint Mechanism.

It will be recalled that Clinton who first visited Sri Lanka in February this year supported Kumaratunga's efforts towards working together with the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam.

Monday's state-owned Daily News has devoted more than three fourths of its front page to three stories that demonstrate the international community's support for tsunami relief to Sri Lanka. Kumaratunga maintains that the international community has endorsed the Government's tsunami reconstruction programme.

But, the sanction of the regional power for the joint mechanism is yet to come. Kumaratunga was trying to make a dash to India a fortnight ago just before the International Development Forum in central Kandy but had to postpone the meeting as Indian Prime Minister Dr. Manmohan Singh was briefly away. There were other domestic compulsions that kept him from meeting Kumaratunga before the mid-May Forum.

On Thursday she heads for New Delhi to finally have the sanction of the regional power. India has maintained that it has neither opposed nor supported the joint mechanism indicating that it had an open mind. At the end of her visit, it is likely that a joint statement by the two heads of government will be issued.

If India gives its assent, the JVP will have no foot to stand on.

The JVP had taken for granted India's support for the party little realising that New Delhi was keen on a southern consensus towards a political solution to the ethnic conflict and thereby devolution of power to the minority Tamils for the North and East.

The JVP position is far from realistic. On the one hand, it says President Kumaratunga has not yet shown the party a copy of the 'joint mechanism'. And on the other hand it maintains that there cannot be any agreement with the 'terrorist Tigers' as it would give the organisation recognition as the sole representatives of the Tamils. After this was pointed out, the JVP, which continues to make noises about the Joint Mechanism, has said it was not averse to the signing of such an agreement with the Tamil National Alliance.

The TNA -- a group of five Tamil political parties -- represented in Parliament, is actually the proxy of the LTTE, which sanctioned the alliance to contest on its behalf at the last April 2004 general elections. So, the TNA and the LTTE are synonymous and the former seeks the guidance of the latter before making public statements and taking up official positions on issues.

There is a deliberate climbing down by the JVP from its original position. The organisation has realised that Kumaratunga not only has the backing of the international community, but also the constitutional power to dissolve Parliament and put the JVP in a desperate position.

The JVP which has a little over three dozens seats in Parliament at present, would manage around two dozens if there were to be a general election in a couple of months and the JVP goes it alone.

So, the JVP has to fall in line or forfeit its steady rise to power. It has progressed from a seat in 1994 to 16 seats in 2000 and 39 in 2004 and would be worried of its future prospects, if the part fails better its record.

If it could carry on the alliance until it has fully organised its grass roots then it would not mind facing an election alone. So, it is clearly a case of the JVP putting the cart before the horse. It should have worked together with its alliance partner and shown the masses that it was good at delivering the goods as a team. (It could have exposed corruption even as it remained spot-clean). If this happened it could be trusted with the reins of government at some point of time.

Playing the spoiler while in the government ranks and throwing the hallowed tradition of cabinet responsibility through the window has spoilt its own chances of bettering its record in Parliament let alone forming the next government.

Perhaps, it could have done that two years into administration after doing its job and bettering the previous United National Front government's performance in the economy as well as the peace process.

Keith Noyahr is KT's Colombo correspondent

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