The Sunday Leader

JVP Confident of Winning More Seats — Tilvin Silva

  • Drawing The Battle   Line For The Hustings

By Waruni Karunarathne

As the politicians have fiercely entered their political campaigns ahead of the upcoming general election, some seem to have changed their stance merely based on party politics neglecting the interests of the country. After a series of internal discussions and plotting, everybody is determined to play the best trump with less in mind for people. While the two main political parties are targeting to form the next government in whichever way they possibly can, the minor parties are determined to secure more seats in parliament in order to gain more power. Speaking to The Sunday Leader, several political party members, including the UNP, SLFP, JVP and TNA expressed their views on the upcoming election and showed confidence to face the election.


JVP General Secretary Tilvin Silva says the party is confident it will receive a better representation in the next parliament and will eventually form a JVP led government in the immediate future as people are gaining confidence in the party and are looking for an alternative force.

Following are excerpts of the interview:

Q: The JVP directed heavy criticism targeting the previous regime, but people have noticed that when it comes to the interim government, you have not taken up issues effectively. What is the reason for that?

A: Towards the end of Mahinda Rajapaksa’s nine year regime there were various issues. We gave voice to those issues and took them up with the previous government. However this interim government was initially formed for 100 days. Within the 100 days our responsibility was to get involved in the National Executive Council and through that bring positive changes for the benefit of the people. For example our responsibility was to see that the executive powers are being reduced and the19th Amendment is passed etc. At that point our target was to help bring these social reforms rather than criticizing the government. However, once the 100 days were over, we started our criticisms and we launched various protests against the government. By now, we have pointed out various defects and failures in implementing the 100 day programme. However, measures we take against a short term government and a government that existed for nine years would not be the same. That does not mean we have stopped talking about certain issues that emerged during the temporary government.


Q:  Some have observed that many activities promised during the 100 day programme have not been completed. JVP being in the National Executive Committee had the ability to take up issues and to ensure that those promised tasks are done. Why did you have to wait till the last minute to point out those issues?

A: Most of the promises given during the 100 day programme remain incomplete or without being fulfilled. With great difficulty, we managed to get the 19A passed in parliament to establish democracy in the country. That was also done curbing several other requirements. We also managed to get some relief for the people. Other than that they launched investigations into some allegations on bribery and corruption – several people have also been arrested in relation to those allegations. Yet there are many tasks that are not done. For example, the Right to Information Bill was not tabled in parliament, a code of conduct for parliament members has not been introduced, electoral reforms could not be presented and even though the 19A was passed, the independent commissions to implement the 19A were not established. In fact, most of the relief promised to the people has not been given. Investigations into some bribery and corruption cases have also been delayed. For instance, investigating into allegations on some powerful people seems to be at a stand still. This interim government has also done things that they should not have done. They appointed a ministerial board of 82 members which is not justifiable. Even after the 100 days expired, they appointed deputy ministers. Even at the very beginning, President Maithripala Sirisena gave two vehicles, two drivers and free fuel to former ministers. Proper investigations were not conducted on the allegations against the Prime Minister’s friend, the Governor of the Central Bank on the controversial Treasury bond issue. People have lost faith. In brief, the interim government may have done some activities they promised but they failed to complete most of it. At the January eighth polls, people defeated Rajapaksa’s regime and voted a new government expecting certain reforms. However they also seemed to have failed the people of this country. They have betrayed the people’s mandate.

The National Executive Council is not a board of ministers or an official structure. Within that structure we gave a voice to bring about necessary reforms and after much effort we managed to get the 19A passed in parliament. The 19A was the only activity properly done in that parliament. If the JVP did not get involved, it would not have been possible. Even when it comes to investigations into corruption, it was due to the JVP’s mediation that they managed to make some headway.


Q:  Parliament was dissolved without bringing about the required electoral reforms. How do you see this?

A: It would have been better if they could have dissolved parliament after establishing a new electoral system. However the issue was that none of us could agree upon the 20th Amendment that was gazetted. Earlier they had discussions on flexible electoral reforms that we could agree upon. During February, March and April, there was a healthy dialogue among us towards a more agreeable electoral system. We had been submitting ideas, proposals and amendments to improve that. However, while those discussions were going on, they submitted a different proposal to the cabinet. They amended that too and gazetted a different one. That gazetted version is intended to abolish the existing multi party system in the country and encourage a bi-part system. Therefore, we could not agree to that. Towards the end, the interim government wasted about two months after the 100 days in vain without doing anything during that period. It displays the carelessness of the government.

On the other hand, the incumbent president should now work for the country and its people respecting the mandate given to him. However he has instead put his duties aside and taken the weight of his party on his shoulder.


Q:  Former JVP leader Somawansa Amarasinghe has been directing various allegations against the JVP. How do you respond to that?

A: Whoever has left our party even in the past has been directing allegations or accusations against the party or its leaders. We do not have to respond to those. However, the party still exits and we move on. We have observed that their behaviours change after they leave the party no matter what positions they have held or how long they have been in the party. Those allegations or accusations formed on baseless grounds do not make any impact on the party as they do not carry any valid facts. Eventually, it will be proved who is right and who is wrong.


Q:  The JVP was seen working on common platforms with capitalist parties in the past few years. Being a communist party, do you think the JVP is moving away from the founding objectives of the party?

A: As a party, we have not changed our direction or our objectives. However, when it comes to certain issues that concern the country we have not walked past the issue but have got involved in addressing those issues. If other parties or groups also have similar interests, we may look as we have been taking sides. For example, we never reached an agreement with the UNP or signed MOUs with them or formed alliances with them for that matter. However, at one point we reached an agreement with the SLFP, signed an MOU and formed an alliance. But that was also done at a point where the country was on the verge of being divided. We did not make that decision to gain power. At decisive points like that we may have made such calls but our objectives or direction has not changed. Those who doubt us will be able to see it in the immediate future.


Q: What is the void that the JVP as a communist party sees in present Sri Lanka?

A: The social system in Sri Lanka since 1948 has been proven to be a failure. Within this system, people have not been able to seek solutions for their fundamental problems. Therefore, there needs to be a social transformation with depth. It is our responsibility to get involved and bring about that social transformation. However, in short term we see that people of this country put a step forward on January eighth this year towards democracy and good governance. That is an initial step. But it seems that people’s mandate is being betrayed. Some elements that people defeated seem to be getting back on their feet. Therefore, we have a responsibility to ensure the step that people have put forward will be strengthened by establishing good governance and democracy.  Through that we will create a positive social transformation in the long run. We do not have any idea of as to which government should be formed – SLFP or UNP. However, we believe that Mahinda Rajapaksa should not come back to power. That is a firm stance that we have taken. Either it is SLFP, UNP or a coalition government; we know that they do not have a solution for the issues related to education, health, transportation, unemployment and economy etc. Therefore, we have to form a new social system that provides solutions to all those issues. That can only be realised through a system led by the JVP which will bring together socialist and nationalist forces together. We will eventually gain power. We will use this election also to build a political platform for that purpose.


Q:  However, even during the recent past, the JVP has managed to secure comparatively a very few seats in parliament. In this context, how do you expect to realise those objectives?

A: It is true that we have had a very few seats in parliament. But we believe that for over 67 years people in this country have relied on these two parties and now have come to the point where they have lost faith in them as those parties have failed the public of this country. People of this country need a change. There is already a dialogue among people who understand politics. Therefore, we believe we will be able to secure a better number of seats in next parliament. It is not practical to assume the number of seats right now but we expect to receive seats covering all the districts. We are sure to get a good representation in parliament. Thus eventually we believe that JVP will be able to form a government in future.


Q:  Given that the JVP still carries the stigma where people still refer to the history of violence that occurred during the JVP insurrections, how can you be so confident?

A: After last Presidential election, people seem to be appreciative of us and have built better confidence in us. They expected us to get involved in the process of the 100 day and we being part of Executive Council got certain things done. We did not get anything out of the 100 day programme, but we only looked at ways to benefit the people. Some forces that used to dismiss the JVP up to that point also recognised the work done by us and said that the JVP is a party that can be trusted. Clearly, people are building their trust in the JVP. If we improve that and bring it forth in our election campaign, then people will be bale to reap the benefit of that opportunity.


Q:  What preparations have you made ahead of the election?

A: By now, we have named all our district leaders – Ramalingam Chandrasekar for the Jaffna district, Sunil Handunnetti for the Matara district, Bimal Rathnayake for the Kelaniya division in the Gampaha district, Anura Kumara Dissanayake for the Colombo district. We have a very strong team leading each district. We had been preparing for the election before it was announced. We have been conducting public seminars and carrying out discussions. We are also preparing a manifesto to be issued. We made public announcements asking for people’s ideas. We received many encouraging proposals which will be incorporated in the manifesto. Right now we are having a dialogue with many groups including health, environment and other groups to get their ideas.


Q:  There is a possibility of forming a coalition government or a national government after the next general election. The JVP is currently seen playing the role of the opposition in parliament. Do you think the JVP will have to continue to be the alternative force?

A: We do not expect to join any government that will be formed after the next general election. We do not think that any of them will be able to solve the problems of this country. So we expect to represent the interest of the people of this country in the parliament and continue our responsibility as the alternative force in parliament. We will do it effectively. However, we do not expect to be forever in the opposition. We have to form the government in immediate future. There is a lot to be done to achieve that target. Nevertheless, the next government will be a coalition government so we have to take the responsibility to represent people. People rely on us to do that task. People started seeing parliament as a place where their problems are discussed as JVP parliament members have discussed their problems in parliament. For instance, people remember very few faces out of 225 ministers in the parliament as a very few actually talk about issues that actually matter to the people of this country. Our comrades Anura Dissanayake, Wijitha Herath and Sunil Handunnetti have been in the fore front discussing those problems and giving them a voice in parliament. Therefore, increasing more JVP representation in parliament will be good for the people.


2 Comments for “JVP Confident of Winning More Seats — Tilvin Silva”

  1. Rohana

    Hello Anura K, Take the middle path, talk to the youth of the country, talk to the farmers, talk to the middle class. Publish your economic policy (not a red book) Publish your social policy (not a red book) Publish your foreign policy (not a red book) Publish your trade policy (not a red policy) Publish your education policy and talk about the independent commissions. People will start trust you and vote for JVP

    • Vishnu

      To create a new clean political culture and for the reconciliation process, and also control and eliminate the corrupted politician like Mahinda, JVP is deserved for more /and majority of the seats.
      Voters must decide whether they want to support a genuine clean politician or get attracted by Mahinda’s gimmicks (in order to get the sympathy of voters , now He- Mahinda says that he safeguarded the rogues , he and his family stolen the states wealth, now he realised his sins he committed, in future he says he will not commit any crimes.

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