The audience present at the NPM manifesto launch
As the country’s political arena is taking new turns with the upcoming Presidential Polls, several candidates – amateur and senior- have expressed their interests. It’s in this backdrop that the National Peoples Movement (NPM) has been established to attract professionals in order to make a change. The Movement believes that existing politician-centred culture has led Sri Lanka to the cusp of irreversible deterioration in every single aspect of society. This includes everything from culture, agriculture, industrial, business, education, judiciary and so on. The Movement however identifies itself as a non-political establishment, but would field candidates who would adopt their values in his or her manifesto.
Dr. Vinya Ariyaratne addressing the gathering during the NPM manifesto launch
- The Movement however identifies itself as a non-political establishment
- NPM will identify and train individuals who will contest through a political party aligned with the Movement
- Dr. Ariyaratne further said that they want to engage with professionals
Deshodaya – National Awakening
Speaking to the Daily Mirror, NPM Leader Dr. Vinya Ariyaratne said that they have felt the need to bring about a change in the political system over the past 10 years. “Even though we are against this present form of divisive party politics, we want to promote more inclusive, participatory, political system based on devolution of power to the community level. For this purpose the National Awakening programme, also know as Deshodaya, was initiated. The main objective is to find a new political system for the country based on the concept of devolution of power to the village level and consensual politics.”
As a voluntary movement, the Sarvodaya Movement has trained many volunteers to take the lead in socio-economic, political and environmental issues among a variety of others. “If a village doesn’t have water, our volunteers organise the community and alert the relevant local government authority,” he continued. “We have a Government that has money and it’s mandatory for the regime to allocate these resources, This is a political intervention because you are demanding. The primary responsibility is on the state. So young people are now trained to be Deshodaya leaders to be advocates for democracy and accountability. Youth want to get involved in peace and reconciliation and are connected to the Sarvodaya Shanthi Sena. At a national level we have professionals who are volunteers and they include lawyers, environmental specialists, bankers etc, who will volunteer for specific activities and trainings,” he added.
The main objective is to find a new political system for the country based on the concept of devolution of power to the village level and consensual politics
He further said that Deshodaya also has what is called the shadow Pradeshiya Sabhas. “This is where we get citizens to form a PS and evaluate budgets, engage with the PS chairman and members. This model is working very well in most areas. There are provisions in the local Government act where they need to get the opinion of the citizens. Every Local Government authority should also have a citizen’s charter. This is a practical compact between citizens of that area and the Local Government authority. These are things we can already do without even waiting for a change in the system,” he stressed.
Objectives of NPM
To be an active force to empower citizens, Build a pragmatic national agenda and road map considering Sri Lanka’s culture, natural resources and strategic placement, Establish a people centric Constitution through a consultative, participatory and transparent process, Take immediate measures in national security and proactively promote national unity, ethnic and religious harmony and reconciliation, Develop a new political leadership and political culture to build the nation by identifying the most suitable individuals to run for Government.
Dr. Ariyaratne further said that during the next two and a half months, they want to engage with professionals and obtain their views on how we could move forward as a nation. “We are saying that NPM is not a party involved in an electoral process. We try to identify good leaders, through a party system that is already there. On the other hand, all policies and aspirations of the people should be institutionalised in a Constitution - the basic law of the land. So far Constitutional changes have taken place to serve the interests of individual parties, not the interests of the people. So can there be a transparent, consultative process? Now we are collecting people’s views and at the same time addressing their Constitutional illiteracy because they also need to understand what sovereignty is. On the other hand we need more women participation. We try to identify good leaders, through a party system that already exists. We will field candidates, but it will be a separate legal entity and a party. It will be the vision-keeper, moral force, research arm, trainer and those not interested in running for office can be in this platform to contribute to nation-building,” he continued.
So far Constitutional changes have taken place to serve the interests of individual parties, not the interests of the people
NPM’s engagement in the political process
- The NPM will identify and train individuals who will then contest through a registered political party aligned with the Movement,
- This political party is not yet represented in Parliament and has not been corrupted by the current party system,
- The identification and nomination process will be democratic and transparent,
- Candidates will reflect the diversity of Sri Lanka, age, gender, ethnicity, religion and vocations,
The Deshodaya Path
The Deshodaya Movement will open opportunities for individuals, families, village communities and the urban community as a whole to participate in this total non-violent transformation. The first step will be to build a compassionate Sri Lanka at an individual level. This will be followed at the family and community level while the fourth step would be to build a Compassionate Sri Lanka as one nation. These four steps will then be followed by a fifth step where the people of the nation will have a clear manifesto of principles and a programme for good governance.
These principles and the programme could be implemented by democratically chosen people’s leaders from bottom up : village to district, district to national level and from national to international level. In this process there will be no space for power or party politics at any level. As such, the Movement aims to push the party political system to history.