Why the JVP knocked Wimal
off his pedestal
With husband Wimal spinning a web
around his party it seems Spiderman
has given the Weerawansa a tip or two
For long, the JVP's now dethroned spokesman
Wimal Weerawansa was not only a political
kingpin; able to pull strings, influence the
UPFA administration, give employment to
close associates at government institutions
in mere seconds and to remove them, but also
the unofficial leader of the JVP.
So powerful was he that his fall came as an
incredible shock, caused by the very party
that elevated him to such heights. The
cadres and the average citizen always felt
that there was no JVP without the
charismatic presence of Weerawansa only to
realise that the JVP adopts its own pruning
techniques and practices them well.
As fate would have it, not only does
Weerawansa find himself in the political
fringes, shamed and exposed for his covert
links with the government both political and
business that precipitated his fall.
But the JVP insiders who have pledged
allegiance to the current leadership feel
that Weerawansa simply overestimated his own
popularity and hijacked the party's opinion
for years without understanding that there
would be a day of reckoning for him.
Parallel political organisation
It is given that the JVP that now criticises
Weerawansa for creating a 'parallel
political organisation,' namely the National
Patriotic Movement (NPM), does allow and
promote the concept of 'infiltration'
through affiliated organisations. It is
largely through those arms that the party
affiliated unions increase membership and
all sectors get invaded.
It is simply that two things happened
simultaneously. Weerawansa was indeed
building himself to the level of national
leadership from within the JVP and was no
longer happy to pay second fiddle in a party
that he believed was dependent on his
personality and oratorical skills. Likewise,
the Somawansa led old guard felt
sufficiently threatened by the growing
popularity of the younger politician and
felt the need to curb him. But it could not
be done suddenly without risking a massive
split and losing party cadres who might feel
Weerawansa was a wronged man.
For his part, Wimal Weerawansa for a while
had been playing into their hands. If anyone
provided the party hierarchy with reasons
for expulsion, it was Weerawansa himself.
For a man who prides himself for being a
smart player, today Weerawansa is made to
grapple with reality and pay a huge
political price, with fresh charges
including 'fictionalising the party' being
framed against him by the JVP's decision
making body, the Central Committee.
Pricey mobile telephone
The fall from grace, originally stemmed from
Weerawansa's alleged business links with the
government. This newspaper from time to time
highlighted some of those incidents
including his involvement with the
vanaspathi issue which the President no less
had mentioned and how he came to own a
pricey mobile telephone which was a 'gift'
for a business favour done to a businessman.
Then there was the sexual harassment charge
levelled against Weerawansa by a former Lake
House employee who was sent on punishment
transfer after she complained over the
Besides, there was a charge that the JVP was
politically worried about - according to a
senior politburo member from the Amarasinghe
camp - the life-style of the Weerawansa
family. He notes that the party policy was
'frugal living' for members and especially
office bearers and that the life-style and
the associated opulence of the Weerawansa
family with trips to
Disneyland and Hollywood
questioned by the membership.
"We have been defenceless at times. Some
newspapers have been slandering Weerawansa
and the JVP for all his faults. But we have
to admit that where his extravagant
life-style was concerned, there was some
credence to those theories," adds the party
Part of the problem
And party General Secretary, Tilvin Silva
appeared on private television and openly
claimed Wimal's spouse Shirsha Udayanthi to
be part of the problem. "That lady obviously
has political ambitions. She has been trying
to do various things and we have warned
Weerawansa against the conduct of his wife.
This is not the UPFA or the UNP. Our
political example is different, and this
applies to our families as well," Silva
Now, besides framing fresh charges, the JVP
believes that their spokesman has gone well
beyond the 'limits of decency' to try and
patch up. He insists: "We tried to bring him
back. We gave him an opportunity to explain.
He only answered some charges and simply
avoided answering others. This is the end of
the road. He will die a natural death
As if to illustrate this point, when
Weerawansa conducted a press conference on
May 7 at the National Library Auditorium, a
tense situation arose when Western
Provincial Councilor Priyantha Bellana and
Sabaragamuwa Provincial Councillor
Priyanjith Vitharana got entangled with
other members in the audience.
A JVP Madagama Pradeshiya Sabha Member,
Umarau Lebbe Kiyas alleged that there was a
conspiracy against the 'true' JVP, angrily
claiming that he was brought to the media
conference for the 'purported' reason of
attending a conference on sugar cane
cultivation in Moneragala in which he was
interested as a Moneragala representative.
Trying to 'buy them'
A fuming Kiyas alleged that there were many
JVP volunteers who worked for the party
without accepting any money, but the group
that organised the media meeting was trying
to 'buy them.'
The JVP old guard now justifies the ouster
of Weerawansa with a few examples. The
opulent lifestyle, the business links,
creating an alternate political group with a
hidden agenda and for hijacking party
opinion. What is openly not stated are the
specific charges of corruption, a fact that
the JVP is still keen to conceal given that
the party's reputation would take a further
nosedive if details were divulged.
Then enters former presidential candidate
and party frontliner Nandana Gunathileka.
This MP, a slight misfit amongst the fire
breathing Marxists slowly aligned himself to
the SLFP and began gradually fading out of
the JVP. To facilitate the move, he also
appearing in parliament only to have his
Weerawansa who habitually pounces on those
who defected or went against JVP's ideology
with absolute contempt showed magnanimity
towards defector Gunathileka throughout.
Crucial budget vote
Then came the December 14, 2007 crucial
budget vote, fought with the same intensity
as any actual election. That's when
Weerawansa elected to throw a lifeline in
government's way and put a smile on the
President's brother and advisor, Basil
Rajapakse's otherwise worried face. In order
to do that, he did battle at the opposition
lobby and locked horns with K. D. Lalkantha
and Anura Kumara Dissanayake.
The last minute change of stance, the JVP
owed to Weerawansa. And the resultant
deterioration of the JVP's popularity given
that the Marxists' shamelessly hitched their
wagon to a government that increased the tax
burden on the masses.
And now, the JVP is ready to go all out to
isolate Wimal Weerawansa as the party feels
there was no point in negotiating with a
Despite the high profile state of the
dissident, well informed party sources said,
"We can't turn a blind eye to his private
deals with the Rajapakse administration."
And added: "They want to run the JVP by
remote control through Weerawansa. We can't
ignore the threat posed to the party by
A top JVP official said that out of the
party's 37-member parliamentary group 10 had
challenged the party's authority and claimed
that the first defector was Kalutara
District MP Nandana Gunathileka who has
since then worked not only with the
government but also with Weerawansa to break
Eastern election campaign
What's more, the JVP now accuses Weerawansa
of plotting to have Trincomalee MP Jayantha
Wijesekera in remand with a view to
destroying the party's eastern election
Come May 27, the JVP will also hold its
fifth party convention at the Sugathadasa
Indoor Stadium, ahead of schedule with a
view to officially clipping Weerawansa's
Not only him, insiders say that the party
will zero in on Piyasiri Wijenayake,
Jayantha Samaraweera and Achala Suranga
Jagoda who are aiding Weerawansa to attempt
capturing the party leadership.
The JVP is furious with Wijenayake
particularly for launching an ambitious
signature collection campaign from other
dissidents for a petition to be submitted to
the Secretary General of Parliament,
Dhammika Kitulegoda requesting their
salaries not be credited to the JVP party
account from the date of receipt. The JVP
accuses that all these decisions are taken
at the Borella headquarters of the National
Patriotic Movement (NPM).
Revealing party strategy
And firing salvos is party General
Secretary, Tilvin Silva who accuses
Weerawansa of revealing party strategy to
the government and making the JVP
politically vulnerable as well as allowing
the SLFP-led ruling coalition to manipulate
party opinion in its favour using Weerawansa.
He has repeatedly accused Weerawansa by now,
of being engineered by the government to
revolt with the hope that Weerawansa would
be able to break the party.
It is not just Silva's belief but also of
the party's that having survived two bloody
crackdowns in 1971 and 1987-1989, that the
defection of a handful led by a single
personality would create a dent. "What
happened to the other leftist parties in Sri
Lanka won't happen to us. Others simply
allow the parties to decline. The JVP has
always emerged stronger. We need cadres who
love this country, not those who seek
self-glorification," adds a JVP frontliner.
And he concludes: "The problem with
Weerawansa and his politically ambitious
wife Shirsha was that they sought to control
the party. They wanted to live unlike other
members, and this was their downfall. They
forgot they were in a truly Marxist outfit.
We have no reason to risk a party's
political future and its reputation built
over years, for a handful of politicians
full of self importance."
Fresh charges against Wimal
As divisions become more apparent and the
two camps stand firmly apart, JVP dissident
group leader Wimal Weerawansa is now facing
fresh charges in addition to the charges
framed against him by the party's Central
JVP frontliner and group leader aspirant, MP
Anura Kumara Dissanayake on Monday told the
media that Weerawansa now faced fresh
charges in addition to questions on his
conduct and breach of confidence.
Accordingly, Dissanayake claims that
Weerawansa had exposed an internal matter to
the outside, used parliament as a forum to
attack his party without settling matters
from within and had seriously breached party
discipline by factionalising the party.
Dissanayake interestingly noted that
Weerawansa would soon be replaced as
parliamentary group leader and a fresh
appointment would be made shortly by the
party's decision-making body, the Central
Wimal Weerawansa: A profile
Full name: Weerasangilige Wimal Weerawansa
Aliases: Wimalasiri Gamlath and Wanshanatha
Address: No: 570/5, Siyambalape,
Mawaramandiya, Kadawatha. (former) No 26 B,
Eight Lane, Ananda Balika Mawatha, Pita
Kotte (former) 198/19, Panchikawatte Road,
Colombo 10. (office) 163/6/1,Vimukthi
Mawatha, Pittugala, Malabe (disclosed
Date of birth:
March 7, 1970
Occupation: JVP parliamentarian for Colombo
Civil status: Married. Wife: Ranasinghe
Mudiyanselage Shirsha Udayanthi
Date of birth:
February 1, 1967
NIC No: 675320233V
Children: Son - Wibhuthi Wishwajith
Weerawansa (8) Daughter - Wimasha Wishwadari
Haunts: No. 14, Modarawatte, Palena,
Weligama; "Savithri," Makewita, Malegoda,
Matara; No. 59, Rit Rit Park, Kekanadura,
Associates: Members of the JVP politburo,
Central Committee members and other active
members of the JVP.
Passport No: M1691301
NIC No: 700670805V
Position in the party: Propaganda Secretary
of the JVP; Politburo member of the JVP; Co-ordinating
secretary of the JVP for Western Province
Members of Parliament representing Colombo
since 2000. Currently functions as Group
Leader of the JVP in parliament.
Personal description: Height: 5' 4"
Appearance: Slim and bearded. Hair parted in
the middle and combed backwards.
Educational Qualifications: Was admitted as
a student of Tissa Central College,
Kalutara on January 1, 1977. Sat for his
G.C.E. O/L Examination in 1986 and passed
obtaining 2 Distinctions (D), 3 Credit
passes (C) and 3 Ordinary passes (S). After
passing the G.C. E. (O/L) Examination in
1986, he attended the G.C.E. (A/L) classes.
He studied in the Arts Stream at Tissa
Central, Kalutara. On
April 30,1989, the school principal terminated his studentship on
the grounds of prolonged absence from
classes. In 1998, he submitted an
application to sit for one subject (English
language) at the G.C.E. (O/L) Examination,
but failed to turn up at the examination
March 9, 1990, he obtained his school-
leaving certificate (No. 204716) from Tissa
Central College, Kalutara.
Family background: Father - Weerasangilige
Podineris. Was a dancing teacher at
Velapura Maha Vidyalaya, Kalutara.
Professional drummer and dancer who had
performed with Niththawala Gunaya Gurunnase.
Podineris Gurunnase received the Kala
Wibhushana award from President Ranasinghe
Premadasa for his contribution to the
performing arts. It has been falsely
publicised that he died on
May 22, 1992
whereas he actually passed away a decade
Mother: Wadachcharige Salie - residing at
59, Rit Rit Park, Kekanadura, Matara.
Brother: Sarath Weerawansa. Represented
Matara Municipal Council from 1997 to 2002.
Currently functions as a full time JVP
Elder sisters: Weerasangilige Sumanawathie.
Married to Wadachcharige Hemasiri, a
carpenter by profession. They live at "Savithri,"
Makewita, Malegoda, Matara.
Younger sister: Chandani Weerawansa.
Unemployed. Lives with the mother at the
Younger sister: NilaniWeerawansa.
Unemployed. Resides at the Kekanadura
Involvements: Published articles in pro-JVP
periodicals Lakdiva and Hiru in order to
propagate the policies of the JVP.
Functioned as the president of the Peoples'
Movement for Freedom (Nidahasa Udesa Janatha
Viyaparaya). At the general elections held
on August 16, 1994, contested the Matara
District as a candidate of the Sri Lanka
Progressive Front (SLPF) and polled 302
votes. Participated in the summit meeting of
the JVP held on May 15,1995 at the Tangalle
Urban Council hall where he was appointed
propaganda secretary of the JVP. At the
local government elections held on March
21,1997, he submitted his nomination papers
to contest the Colombo District and was
elected a member of the Colombo Municipal
Council (CMC) by obtaining the ration of
preferential votes. He unsuccessfully
contested the Western Provincial Council (WPC)
elections on the JVP ticket for the Colombo
District. The JVP hierarchy nevertheless
appointed him as a member of the WPC.
Successfully contested the general elections
held on October 10, 2000 on the JVP ticket
for Colombo District and was elected. He
obtained 13,284 preferential votes.
Successfully contested the general elections
held on December 5, 2002 on the JVP ticket
for the Colombo District and was elected,
obtaining 19,128 preferential votes. In
2004, he once again was elected to
parliament polling the second highest
preferential votes from the entire Colombo
District, coming second to UNP Leader, Ranil
Wickremesinghe. Active member of Patriotic
National Movement (PNM).