Vijitha Herath claims JVP ideology cannot be destroyed

Despite intense speculation to the contrary, JVP front-liner Vijitha Herath vehemently denies any kind of fissures within the Marxist party in a wide ranging interview with The Nation this week.

By Rathindra Kuruwita
Following are excerpts:
Q: The Indian Prime Minister has said that he will attend the 2008 Independence Day celebrations only if a proposal to solve the ethnic conflict is presented to the President, by the APRC. What do you feel about that demand?
India or any other country does not have the right to tell us how we should settle our internal affairs. No one can tell us how and when we should do this and under what conditions. India or any other country cannot give us deadlines and say we should settle the ethnic conflict before this day. We should not give into such demands. Itís ironical that a foreign Prime Minister is trying to intimidate us on our Independence Day.

Then again, what can you expect from the APRC? It is dead. It is not an All Party Conference anymore, but a collective of the parties supporting the government. Also, the previous reports put forward by the APRC, directly violates the ĎMahinda Chintanaya.í That means that these proposals are against the wishes of the people. The President came in to power vouching a unitary state and people did not give power to dissolve power. So we are not impressed with the APRCís path. It should be dissolved.

Q: Wouldnít the participation of the Indian premier at our Independence Day celebrations be beneficial to the country?
We have no problems with his arrival. But, his visit is linked to unreasonable demands that are not permissible. What he should do is to strengthen the fight against terrorism and force the LTTE to accept a reasonable solution.

Q: You have continually opposed the proposals put forward by the APRC as a solution to the conflict in the North and East. What is your solution?
The JVP has a clear solution. We have always stood for democracy and equal distribution of economic resources. According to the JVP, the main cause for this problem is economic. Look at whatís happening today, Mahinda Rajapaksa is saying he is from Hambantota and, because of that, he is giving Hambantota an International Airport. What sort of mentality is this; this is the sort of action that has contributed to the birth of the ethnic conflict.

The Tamil people were discriminated by successive governments. Tamil youth were not able to get government jobs, obstacles were placed before them when entering the Universities and the government did not give them the resources they needed to fulfil their potential. Without solving the economic problems of the poor there will be no permanent solution to the ethnic conflict.

First of all, the LTTE should be defeated, militarily and ideologically. We should also establish democracy in the North and the East. We should give them a chance to participate in elections and allow them to be in control of their own destiny.

We are not saying we expect that these capitalistic regimes can offer that kind of long term solution. The capitalists always wanted to separate people according to their nationalities. So, at least we ask the government to implement democracy and defeat the LTTE. These things can be achieved within a unitary state.

Q: Do you think that the government will take any action against Mervyn Silva for his antics at the SLRC?
Mervyn Silva is a symbol of this corrupt government. We do not expect serious action will be taken against the non cabinet minister. The ministers in general have no morals or ethics. So how can we expect disciplinary action against Mervyn Silva?

Q: The UNP has said that the JVP is responsible for the price increase of commodities after the Budget?
That statement is absurd. Letís imagine that the Budget was defeated and the UNP came into power, will they be able to control the prices? The answer is no, they ruled the country from 1977 to 1994 and then again from 2002 to 2004, didnít the prices increase?
Both political parties are following a wrong economic path. If we look at any budget in the last 20 years, the main source of government income is taxes. We have become a nation of non-producers. The manufacturing sector is nearly dead, the government is not investing in industries and the UNP says it brought in investors but how many of these invested in manufacturing? Call centres do not contribute to long term economic development. Without increasing production economic development cannot be achieved.

Q: Nandana Gunathilake has claimed that there is a huge split in the JVP and the decision to abstain at the third reading was to prevent this from happening?
Over the years, some of our party members have given up their ideals and taken the easy path towards power and fortune. Almost everyone who does that predicts the end of the JVP, but that has not happened. The JVP is not based on an individual or two; it is based on an ideology. And ideologies can never be destroyed.
As we have explained before, the JVP abstained from voting to demonstrate our disapproval of both the UNP and the UPFA. While we cannot agree with this corrupt Budget, we definitely do not want to bring in an equally corrupt set of politicians into power. The JVP was the only party that stood firm in this storm while others trembled. We stood united and showed the nation who is the most disciplined political party.

Q: What can you say about the recent fall out between the JVP and the JHU?
Well, the JVP and the JHU are totally different political parties. In our view the JHU is a far right political party, they promote racism. But, on the other hand, our ideals are socialist therefore we always had disagreements.

Q: Did the JVP meet Basil Rajapaksa before the third voting?
No, we did not meet Basil before, during or after the Budget. We did not have any deal with this government.

Q: Do you believe that if the Budget was defeated that would have affected the military operations in the North?
Yes, we took that matter into consideration. We believe that we should defeat the LTTE and we saw that the UNP tried to disrupt the military action and indirectly help the LTTE. We do not want to see that happen.

Q: The JVP has claimed that it will build a national front to give the country a new leadership?
It is evident that neither the UNP or the SLFP can guide Sri Lanka to a better future, history has proven that. But, in those political parties, there are progressive elements that are disgusted with the present situation of the country.
Our aim is to unite these elements and bring them under one flag and bring that front into power.