Anura Kumara Dissanayake is presently in India. The head of the JVP/NPP alliance is actually on an official visit to India, at the invitation of the Indian government. Believe it or not, AKD – as he is popularly known – has in addition to holding discussions with Indian External Affairs Minister, Jaishankar, also held meetings with Indian Defence Advisor, Ajit Doval!
The JVP has come a long way from its initial foray into international analyses where in 1971 it saw Lanka’s only real proletarian worker group (the Indian Tamil estate workers) as Indian fifth columnists; it spoke of uprooting tea bushes and replanting these areas with potatoes.
In the late 1980s, the JVP warned the Sinhala electorate of Indian expansionism, and led a bloody revolt based on its opposition to the establishment of the Provincial Councils system. Today, the JVP has embraced Provincial Councils.
Last October, AKD was in the American heartland speaking to JVP/NPP supporters surrounded with American and Sri Lankan flags.
Prior to his leaving for the US, in a post on X, the JVP/NPP leader said, the US Ambassador Ms Chung visited him in his office to congratulate him on his forthcoming visit to the US.
At that meeting, the according to AKD’s post, the party leadership ‘drew the attention’ of the Ambassador, to the need for urgent mediation by the United Nations to prevent the ongoing humanitarian catastrophe resulting from the war between Israel and Palestine.
Not a condemnation of the genocide Israel is committing in Palestine, but “drawing attention of the US to the need for urgent mediation by the United Nations to prevent the ongoing humanitarian disaster due to the continuing war between Israel and Palestine...”
Apparently, the JVP has come a long way from its earlier stance on justice worldwide.
The invitation of the JVP/NPP leader to visit India, by the Indian government is an acknowledgement of ground realities in Lanka.
The party is growing in popularity. India needs to be in a position to avoid misunderstandings with a possible government-in-waiting - especially with a possible upcoming Presidential and Parliamentary election in Lanka due to be held later this year.
Meanwhile, AKD visited the US to meet party supporters last year. The US is well-known for its refusal to grant visas to radical Socialist political leaders. It even refused former President Mahinda Rajapaksa’s son Namal – a sitting Lankan MP – permission to visit the US in 2022.
In March 2022, Namal Rajapaksa in an interview with Reuters said he was not allowed to enter the United States despite having a valid visa.
AKD faced no such difficulties.
Even on the economic front, the vision of the NPP/JVP alliance appears to have changed, especially regarding its stance vis-à-vis the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund (IMF). Today, the alliance backs President Ranil Wickremesinghe’s efforts in seeking and implementing an IMF bailout to rescue the Lankan economy.
The JVP has come a long way from its earlier die-hard Marxist line. It appears to advocate a ‘flexible Marxism’ whatever that means. Via its new thrust, AKD and his JVP/NPP alliance seem to have become the darling among the Western powers.
A number of prominent members of the alliance are visiting Western capitals. With invitations from India and visits to the US, the alliance has stolen a march over political rival, Premadasa’s Samagi Jana Balawegaya (SJB) which continues to be embroiled with internal disputes.
But has the JVP/NPP alliance really changed? In the universities, students complain of strong-armed tactics used to force them into taking particular courses of action. Senior members of the alliance like Dr. Ms Harini Amarasuriya insist they will renegotiate the IMF deal.
The alliance knows well that agreements once signed, and financial help once accepted cannot be renegotiated. A withdrawal from such agreements will drag the country back to the mayhem and chaos of the 2022 era.
The question facing Lanka at the next poll is, whether we vote for a government or a President who will take us forward, or drag us back to the chaos of 2022.