Is it possible for the JVP to utilize the perceived split to re-build the party, which has experienced a series of debilitating setbacks at Parliamentary, Provincial Council and the recently concluded Local Government elections? The JVP, which contested the LG polls on its own, failed to secure at least one council, though it campaigned vigorously in the provinces.
Authoritative government sources told ‘The Island’ that the so-called split had given an unexpected political boost to the bankrupt JVP and an opportunity to flex its muscles. Citing recent media coverage received by the rebel JVP group, both in the local and international press, sources said that the party had taken the centre-stage in the ongoing Opposition campaign against the government.
“State intelligence services are inquiring into various developments to thwart possible attempts to undermine political stability. We are also concerned about possible external factors, including substantial funding made available through interested parties,” a senior official said. Asked whether the government could prove a conspiracy on the part of the JVP, the official pointed out that in spite of the much discussed split, the Inter-University Students’ Federation (IUSF) and ‘We are Sri Lankans’ had been relentlessly campaigning against the government. The so-called rebel faction recently formed another front, ‘Youth for Change’, to rally Opposition elements opposed to the government, sources said. In spite of the Amarasinghe and Gunaratnam camps exchanging words, the IUSF, ‘We are Sri Lankans’ and for Change’ had launched large scale protests in Colombo on Jan. 5 and Jan. 9 at the behest of the rebels.
Government sources said that while the IUSF had taken on the government over Higher Education Minister S. B’s controversial Quality Assurance, Accreditation and Qualification Frame Bill, aimed at regulating ‘private universities’, ‘We are Sri Lankans’ and ‘Youth for Change’ pushed for a common political front against the government, which could accommodate those supportive of the LTTE’s eelam project. Asked whether the two organizations were under scrutiny, sources said that the government wouldn’t interfere in their right to engage in political activity, as long as they didn’t resort to violence.
The police on Jan. 5 thwarted an attempt by the IUSF to march on Temple Trees to protest against an alleged bomb attack directed at a statue erected at the Sri Jayewardenepura University in memory of those students who sacrificed their lives during struggles against successive governments.
Defence sources said that only those opposed to the government benefited from damages caused to the statue, by exploiting the situation to march on Temple Trees.
On Jan. 9 ‘Youth for Change’ launched a protest march demanding the immediate release of Lalith Kumar Weeraraj and Kugan Murugananthan — who went missing in the Jaffna peninsula on Dec. 9th.
According to the rebel faction, the missing men had been campaigning in the north, on behalf of missing Tamil speaking people. The rebel group had blamed government agents for the abductions, a charge denied by authorities.
The families of the two men recently petitioned the United Nations mission in Colombo to pressure the government over the issue.
Sources alleged that those engaged in the ongoing protests were planning to step up their campaign in the run-up to the UN Human Rights Council sessions in Geneva in the last week of February. Sources asserted that the ongoing crisis in the UNP had paved the way for the rebel group to present itself as the most active political element against the government. Unfortunately, the UNP seemes to be blind to the JVP’s strategy.
Commenting on the media frenzy caused by the role played by Premakumar Gunaratnam alias Kumar Mahattaya in the rebel wing, sources revealed that ongoing inquiries revealed that those active in the so-called rebel or Reformist group were all known hands and Kumar Mahattaya’s function still remained unclear.
Sources alleged that the JVP could be using the rebel faction to establish contact with ex-LTTE cadres and those supportive of the group, including foreign elements.