| by Dr Vickramabahu Karunaratne
(October 16, Colombo, Sri Lanka Guardian) Within the context of Local Government elections, it was a great step forward. The political tendency which included the Democratic Peoples Front, Nava Sama Samaja Party, Social democratic solidarity and other socialist groups did well to gain eight municipal councillors, with mobilization of over 30,000 votes. While the government maintained its hold in the rural areas with its Sinhala chauvinist campaign, towns are changing fast. The regime appears to be strong but it is withering away. The gun battle that killed a popular leader of the regime shows the intensity of the internal struggle. Bharatha Lakshman came into limelight as a young adjutant to Vijaya Kumaratunga. He became a provincial councillor of the United Socialist Alliance in 1988, facing the attacks of chauvinist killers. At that stage he stood for devolution of power. In recent times, though an adviser to the president, he was opposed to demolishing of houses of the poor people under the promise of new houses.He wanted to maintain his popularity among the urban poor while working for the president. Apart from that incident the clashes within the UPFA were non violent. That is the claim of government leaders.
The Left’s campaign
The left tendency was able to carry out a reasonable campaign among the workers who were dissatisfied with the government, firstly for not compensating for the rising prices and, secondly for attempting to take over provident fund savings. On the other hand the anger and hatred of Tamils for not taking concrete steps to solve the Tamil national problem, gave an impetus to the political campaign of the movement. Major partners of this democratic people’s movement accepted equality, autonomy and the right of self determination as the principles of a long standing solution to the Tamil national problem. On that basis the Tamil National Alliance also gave its support to the election campaign of the left. In effect, the election of eight councillors in the Colombo district represents the surge of the democratic movement lead by the working class organizations. After a long period of coalition politics, independent left leaders are now present in local bodies.
|Feature, Bharatha Lakshaman Premachandra, who was an adviser to the President was killed by an adviser of President;s brother and secretary defence.|
In addition to what was achieved by the independent left democratic alliance, in several places LSSP and pro CP people got elected outside the formal list of the UPFA. Now, these councillors are not strictly independent and they keep their connection with the coalition. But they could take an open critical stand in the coming period.
Though they have a tarnished history of supporting the genocide war of the government, one cannot rule out sincere attempts to take the correct path. It is essential to see what we could do together in the coming period. Anik Pituwa is a publication that supports this type of radicals within the LSSP and the CP. In the last issue, Anik Pituwa said it “was in favour of the parties of the Samajawaadi Janatha Peramuna (Socialist Alliance) LSSP, CP, and DLF contesting the Municipal Council elections as a separate entity without going under the leadership of the UPFA. This would have asserted their Left identity and, very significantly, they would have done better at the polls. However, the three parties decided otherwise.
In Kotte, nevertheless, the LSSP had decided to go it alone since it was unable to reach an agreement with the UPFA on the composition of the list. Anik Pituwa strongly supports the Kotte list put forward by the LSSP. We are also pleased that some progressive candidates from the SLFP have decided to stand for election on the LSSP list instead of the UPFA list. We urge voters to support the LSSP list in Kotte.”
This publication indicates clearly the dilemma of militants within old left parties. They have, at least partially, realized that the Mahinda regime represents the counter revolution and complete sell out to IMF and global powers. But they are hesitant to take bold steps, and to come out of the coalition. They believe that the masses who are under the spell of chauvinism of the Mahinda regime can be saved only by compromising with their beliefs and misconceptions. I do not take that view seriously. But if these councillors are prepared to join our democratic campaigns in the coming period then that should be considered seriously.