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Sinhala nationalists fume as JVP visits India

The Janatha Vimukthi Peramuna (JVP) and coalition National People’s Power (NPP) continued to elicit much controversy with Sinhala nationalists fuming over the discussions and stance taken by the leader Anura Kumara Dissanayake during his recent visit to India, as he continues to rise in popularity ahead of the presidential polls.

Earlier this month, party leader Anura Kumara Dissanayake, met with India’s External Affairs Minister Dr. S. Jaishankar, after the party was invited to discussion in Delhi for the first time.

The visit is seen as a significant outreach by Delhi to the leftist politician, ahead of widely expected presidential polls in Sri Lanka later this year and marks a possible change of heart from the JVP’s fiercely anti-India rhetoric that came to define its politics in the 1980s.

Several government and ruling members of parliament held press briefings last week critiquing various aspects of the visits. Still, most of them zoned in the JVP’s stance which had predominantly been anti-India. 

Justice Minister Wijeyadasa Rajapaksa yesterday told reporters in Colombo that “If the JVP has gone to India with the notion that they would be the next party that would govern Sri Lanka, then they are only an arm for providing contracts and business opportunities.”

“The past has shown us through historical accounts how the JVP opposed the Indo-Lanka Accord. It was the JVP that led to the uprising, where they killed so many monks, lit up over 500 transformers, destroyed garment factories, and much more. All of this to weaken the country.”

Meanwhile, the chief incumbent of the Mihintale Raja Maha Viharaya Walahahengunawewe Dhammaratana went on to tell reporters in Colombo that if Muslim and Tamil preschoolers were taught Sinhala and if Sinhalese preschoolers were taught Tamil, then “there would not be a need to have a 13th Amendment in the first place.” He said the parliament was full of "zombies" and individuals who are in a state of "coma." He added that the President's program of giving away land title and water to the North was to secure his voter base. 

Referring to Dissanayake’s recent visit to India he questioned the JVP’s stance on India keeping Trincomalee oil tanks. “Did you take or give an election bribe of $10 million from Indian businessmen? What did you say about Adani’s renewable energy project which is looting?”

Sri Lanka Podu Jana Peraumna (SLPP) MP Lalith Warna Kumara told reporters that it was shameful the JVP had turned on its heels regarding its stance on India after just one visit to India. “I remember those days when you said Maysoor Dhal you’d have your mouth slit, the same for Bombay Onion. It was frowned upon to even say those words when in a grocery store. The JVP would have your mouths slit, that was the stance of the JVP then,” he told reporters. “Dissanayake has proved that is not the JVP. Today only Lal Kantha of the JVP has maintained the party’s position.”

Kumara likened the outfit Dissanayake wore during his meeting with the Indian foreign minister to resembling Rohana Wijeweera and said that “the day Aruna becomes President, will be the day he commits suicide, because of all the lies he keeps telling.” 

He asked if this is the kind of leaders, the youth of this country wish to bring to power. “Dissanayake mentioned Amul, so we wish to know if are they going to Amul lands. Vijitha Herath recently told a media briefing that it's going to be 50/50. But we don't understand this 50/50 rhetoric. Have people forgotten that it was this party that burnt Tata buses simply because it was Indian?”

Nationalist politician Udaya Gammanpila, leader of Pivithuru Hela Urumaya, welcomed the JVP move adding that the JVP banned all Indian products and this change was appreciated. 

Meanwhile, Wimal Weerawansa, another nationalist and leader of a JVP-breakaway party said the latest Indian invitation to the Marxist party is to sign the Economic and Technology Co-operation Agreement (ETCA) deal which is opposed by the majority of Sri Lankans.

“While Dissanayake is visiting the Amul factory, his party members are collecting signatures in protest of bringing Amul investments to Sri Lanka,” Weerawansa told a gathering. “In which era have we seen such theatrics?”

He referred to the ECTA deal stating that his party was able to stop the deal from going forward, however under Dissanayake, the deal is being given a new lease on life. “ECTA will deprive Sri Lankans of job opportunities. Earlier this was not the case and no Indian could take up a job that a Sri Lankan could do. But all of this will change when ECTA deal comes into force.”


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