‘Shotgun Somay’ fires a popgun warning

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Somawansa Amarasinghe Somawansa Amarasinghe

History is replete with people short in stature, but with lofty ambitions, who have had an indelible impact on the world. Even in an era that has seen the evaporation of countless racial and gender stereotypes, short people are routinely portrayed in popular media as jealous, conniving liars, aspiring to achieve their ends by any means.

Hey, remember that Somawansa Amarasinghe guy? You know the shadowy tiny, old man who had been lurking behind the Janatha Vimukthi Peramuna (JVP) even when in exile. He was indeed a sort of elusive Scarlet Pimpernel, not in heroic sense, but still with quite a dubious reputation for insurrectionary violence.

At first glance, one would sum him up as a mild-mannered, little man trying to survive on a modest state pension. But looks can be deceptive. Amarasinghe, a junior technocrat in the service of the state,  joined  the JVP in 1969. On April 5, 1971, at the outbreak of the first JVP insurrection, he was assigned the perilous task of abducting the then Prime Minister Sirimavo Bandaranaike. After the attempt failed, he was captured. In 1974, he was sentenced for two years in prison.

He became a Politburo Member of the JVP in 1984. Of 14 members of the caucus, he was the only one who curiously survived the second JVP insurrection (1987-89). He fled the country, and led the party from exile for a number of years.

He returned to the country briefly in 2001, but left on December 5, 2001, on the day the general election was held. He returned in 2004 and continued to lead the party until February 2, 2014, when he handed over the leadership to Anura Kumara Dissanayake.

In a surprise move, Amarasinghe announced recently that he was resigning from the party and was planning to form one of his own. He slammed the JVP leadership, saying that the party had been intentionally been delaying the process of building socialism in the country.

He attributed the main reason for his leaving the party was that the members were tilted towards supporting the Maithripala Sirisena faction. Yet, very perplexingly in virtually the same breath he is supporting the very side he accuses his erstwhile comrades. So he began staging a fast-unto-death protest in order to resurrect an issue that has been laid to rest.

His ‘protest satyagraha’ in Independence Square calls for an investigation into the activities in the form of a conspiracy that had taken place at ‘Temple Trees’ on January 9,the folowing morning of the presidential election, this year. He has insisted that the authorities commence an investigation, and bring those guilty to book. He called off the fast, and as usual is more alive than most of his revolutionary comrades.

At the time analysts suspected that the alleged foiled coup attempt announced by certain members of the new administration appeared to be a figment of their imaginations. How come many responsible politicians and officials failed to observe any hobgoblins behind the bushes when they arrived at Temple Trees on the morning of the elections. One analyst quipped that the dawn conspiracy theory must surely have been caused by hallucinations triggered by excessive tankards of caffeine compounded by the victory euphoria.  

 After all, investigations conducted by the CID had come to an end since there was no sufficient evidence found to file a lawsuit against the inquiry of its main witch-hunted suspects. Naturally the CID could not have charged anyone over such baseless allegations.  Heavyweight politicians of the Common Opposition should have got their facts correct before they began spewing out all kinds of unsubstantiated hearsay and drivel.

And on the subject of conspiracy theories, no one man has been accused of hatching so many of them and being able to survive as long as Amarasinghe has. Certainly, he has been accused of the biggest betrayals in the history of this nation’s political history. These are some excerpts from statements of Srimathi Wijeweera, wife of the slain JVP leader Rohana Wijeweera: “Somawansa Amarasinghe was known to have defrauded party funds and a charge to this effect made by Nandana Marasinghe resulted in the latter being killed.” Srimathi claims that Somawansa Amarasinghe ‘because of this reason’ was part of ‘the assassination clique who inhumanely killed Nandana Marasinghe.’

She goes on to state: “In November 1989, the army took my husband into custody whilst we were residing at Ulapane. It was Somawansa Amarasinghe who betrayed the leadership of the active party to the political military and police unit set up by R. Premadasa and Ranjan Wijeyratne to annihilate the JVP.”

What beggars’ belief is how a man branded as a traitor to a revolutionary cause, who allegedly betrayed his comrades was elevated to the party’s highest position when the movement was de-proscribed.  Even after his announcement to quit the JVP, its leaders were bending over backwards in a futile attempt to make him change his mind. 

JVP Propaganda Secretary Vijitha Herath noted that: “Comrade Amerasinghe had shared certain thoughts, but that he had not yet given clear reasons for his actions.”We as the party do not endorse his exit.” Herath explained that Somawansa is an integral part of the JVP. “We need him for his experience and vision,” he said.

But the billion buck question is why Amarasinghe has taken a sudden solicitous hankering for President Sirisena’s safety? Perhaps he knows something that no one else knows about a conspiracy he is holding out as a bargaining chip! After all, this sawn-off shotgun knows more about failed coups and assassinations than any other person in this nation.  
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