|PNM retains Weerawansa as
Even when he was among party
favourites, Wimal Weerawansa was a strong supporter of the
Patriotic National Movement (PNM). In fact, he was the General
Secretary of the movement. According to PNM Chairman Dr.
Gunadasa Amarasekara, Weerawansa is still the General Secretary
and will remain so.
In the meantime, the dissident group has expressed its their
intention to form a new political movement with the support of
the PNM. In an interview with The Nation, Dr. Amarasekara
explained the role of the PNM and the ideology behind the
However, it was apparent that the PNM disseminates an ideology,
which is in contrast to the JVP ideology that Weerawansa claims
he still adheres to. Therefore, the questions arise whether two
groups believing in contrasting ideologies can work together as
one political force. Yet, stranger things have happened in this
country and only time will tell the future of the JVP and Wimal
Following are excerpts of the interview with Dr. Amarasekara:
Q: What is the ideology behind the PNM?
A: “Our ideology is something called a Nationalistic
Ideology. What we want to do is to collect all the nationalistic
forces and present an ideology to the people based on a kind of
civilisational consciousness. We tried to achieve a
civilisational ideology, which cuts across all these political
lines. Till we achieved independence there was no national
liberation struggle, unlike in India. As a result, we never had
a national ideology. After 50 years of independence we have not
been able to build a national ideology.”
Q: Do you mean to say that Marxist socialist theories failed
because they were not built on a national ideology?
A: Yes, the pity of it is that they took it in a very
simplistic manner. They never understood – probably at that time
there was no thinking on these lines.
Q: What brought forth the formation of a movement such as the
A: The JVP would never have come up if not for the 1956
change. It was the 1956 change that took politics to the rural
masses. The main change was that politics was taken to the rural
masses. Up to that time, politics was ruled by the elitist class
in Colombo. For the first time, S.W.R.D. Bandaranaike and other
nationalist forces took politics to the rural masses. Prior to
that, there was another event of great importance – 1944 free
education. For the first time, C.W.W. Kannangara took English
education to the masses and created a form of intelligentsia.
Bandaranaike took politics to the rural areas. These were the
two events that gave rise to the JVP, who came from those
classes in the rural area. They are called the ‘Children of
What constitutes the JVP is the rural youth. If after ’56, the
SLFP had a vision, if they knew where they were going, then, if
they had changed the economic policy and political policy and
had vision and acted and looked after the children of that
intelligentsia, the JVP would not have come up as a political
force. What happened was after ’56, the SLFP never acted with a
vision. As soon as they came to power they didn’t know where
they were going, they had a simplistic vision as well. They
never realised that if they had acted properly with a vision,
the youth would not have banded to form a JVP. After ’56, the
rural youth had some access to education, they were aware of
their political crisis but they were not looked after. They were
really a frustrated underprivileged class and also with petty
bourgeois ambitions. A semi educated rural youth who knew that
they should have a place in the sun. The onus goes to the SLFP.
Q: How do you perceive the 1971 insurrection?
A: By 1971, Rohana Wijeweera, who was a bit of a romantic,
thought he could get hold of the rural chaps. However, after the
failure of the ’71 insurgency, he matured and decided to enter
the political stream. In ’83 as they were making a mark, J.R.
Jayewardene banned the party, which was a great mistake. When
they were banned on one completely false pretext, they were
blamed for the Black July even though they had nothing to do
with that. As a result, the JVP went underground and resorted to
insurrections and violence.
Q: Do you call them Marxists?
A: I wouldn’t call them a Marxist party. They may use some
Marxist slogans and so on. Whatever it is, Marxism is a humanist
ideology. Of course, it never succeeded in the West and it was
taken by Lenin in Russia and Mao and those versions are not
Marxist. The way it ended up in Russia was Stalinist, an
anti-humanist dictatorial party in the name of Socialism. It was
the model that appealed to these boys: the dictatorial
anti-human Marxism of Stalin. The JVP has the Stalinist
ideology. I wouldn’t call it a Marxist ideology. You can see the
JVP after J.R., once again they entered the democratic
mainstream. During the insurrection of ‘87 they displayed
utterly inhuman and despicable behaviour. One could say that
they had no access to democratic means and had to resort to
violence. Then they once again entered the democratic stream and
banded up with SLFP.
Q: How do you perceive the rift within the JVP today?
A: Where the break up is concerned, I feel that it is a
clash of ideologies. As usual, the personalities maybe involved.
This is definitely a clash of ideologies because basically as I
told you, the JVP believes in revolution and though they have
entered the democratic process, I don’t think they have much
faith in the democratic process. I think they are basically in
that Stalinist frame of mind: That socialism can be pushed down
the throat. However, Wimal Weerawansa belongs to a new
generation. He is not a man who was involved in the insurrection
of ’87-89, he was a man who joined the party as a school boy.
And I think he was exposed to much of these debates,
intellectual debates and discussions. Probably he was also
influenced like that. He happens to believe in the democratic
process and believes in our national ideology.
In fact, I knew that at some stage that could happen, that these
two ideologies can’t go together. It had to happen at some
stage. And I think it has happened. I think what is preferable
is for Wimal to take over the party and get the party to agree
with him and in that context I think it is a very good thing
that happened. Somawansa’s faction must rethink and adjust
themselves. They must rethink because of the fate that the
Marxists have suffered in this country. Somawansa must think
Q: What is the future of the JVP ?
A: I think, if they are going to have a future they must
rethink where they have gone wrong. Some ideological change is