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Pluripotent mobilisation

[Lakbima News, Monday, 4 January 2010 11:21 No Comment]

We do not know the outcome of the SF versus MR confrontation, though it looks like I have stated the candidate’s initials in priority order. What we do know is that 26 January will open up a new phase in the struggle of the people and the minorities for democracy, against graft, for justice and for devolution. Neither of these guys is going to deliver salvation unless their hands are forced; the election simply opens up the road for new forms of struggle with different flavours. It is the mobilisation of the people, not the generosity of these worthies that will determine outcomes.

18-3 The conclusion then is fairly simple, you and I and all of us must prepare to deal with a wide range of different outcomes, all of them challenging, therefore it is our strength and flexibility that will count. When I say “we” I refer to ordinary folk who want a free and decent life for themselves and their children and minority communities that want a fair deal. That is to say, challenged by uncertain outcomes we need to be pluripotent; like Caesar’s armies we need to be quick, flexible and able to deal with any challenge.

Every one of us started off as a single cell that multiplied into a small group of embryonic cells, pluripotent stem cells, with the potency to develop into livers, kidneys, muscles – even the half dead brain cells of some of my problematic friends in the diaspora. In recent times the ethical controversy about embryo destruction led to a multibillion-dollar research effort to grow pluripotent cells in the laboratory from skin and other tissue.

Bahu, Siritunga and Sivaji will not win the presidency, at best they will poll several tens of thousands of votes, but their campaigns are preparing these tens of thousands to understand, to be politically conscious and, to borrow the terminology, to take up responsibility as pluripotent political leaders with the ability to think on their feet and deal with evolving challenges. Strengthening the Bahu-Sivaji alliance among Tamil voters and Siritunga among Sinhalese voters offers a troika of opportunities that cuts across moribund ethnic lines. A hundred thousand votes for the troika will unleash sensational opportunities; and believe me, revolutionary possibilities within a couple of years.

Winning the toss

A degree in civil engineering followed by emigration seems to make one brain dead, at least this is the case with more than one of by friends in the Tamil diaspora; actually the ailment is widespread even in the far-left at home so it’s worth a little newsprint. Even Tamil candidate Sivajilingam is suffering from this ailment. Or is it that I am hopelessly bad at explaining a simple matter? Let me try one last time using a cricketing analogy.

Imagine the captain of a team. Win or lose the toss he is up against a nasty sledging opposition like the Australians. So should he say, ‘I don’t care if I win or lose the toss, I am going to boycott the toss, it matters nothing to me when we bat and when we bowl because the opposition is all nasty?’ Many a match has been won or lost on who batted and bowled on which pitch; which idiot would choose to face the fourth innings on a crumpling turf or be locked in combat with a master spinner like Murali on a sticky? One must tussle under the best possible conditions that one can contrive, must not one?

Tell me frankly, are the two propositions below so contradictory that it is not possible to see a logical flow between them?

Proposition 1: The track records of both SF and MR inspire no confidence, we can trust neither and the task is pluripotent mobilisation of the people themselves; whoever wins the election, our match to tame the winner goes on.

Proposition 2: Yes indeed SF is but MR’s erstwhile bloodhound and storm trooper, but if he can be used as a tool for regime change, which would in turn have a liberating effect on political space, let us do it. Let us win the toss and continue the match under the most favourable conditions.

One does not need a doctorate in Marxist dialectics to appreciate this simple dynamic. Advocating Proposition 2 does not make one a dirty traitor to the cause and a bum sucker of Fonseka. But if one can only think in fixed and formal categories and if atrophied brain cells refuse to churn, as is the case with some aging denizens of the Tamil diaspora and some rote-learned leftist kids at home, well that’s the response one gets. No more time to waste on them; but Sivaji seems to have contracted the same virus, that is more serious.

Sivaji versus Sampanthan

Sivaji flatly refuses to offer Sampanthan a compromise; Sampanthan is equally determined to throw his weight behind Fonseka; Gajendran still roams the graveyard of LTTE boycott politics. This is what I have been able to gather on the grapevine. No need to waste one’s breath on dinosaurs like Gajendran; hopefully hundreds of thousands of Tamil voters will give this nonsense a second burial on 26 January. TamilNet has been a good website but its refusal to break with outdated boycott politics may signal its swansong; it’s a pity if that happens.

The serious issue is not the diaspora, it is the divergence in the primary political space; the Sivaji-Sampanthan stand off. I am not an insider hence unaware how much of this is petty jealousies and angst, much renowned among Tamil groups. Politically, however, there is plenty of space for compromise and a win-win compromise it can be. Sivaji must stop being mule-headed and boycotting the toss; he must offer Sampanthan a compromise: “OK you can canvass second preference for regime change on my platform”. Sampanthan’s endorsement of his candidature, even by a nod, will bring him another 100,000 votes. And what’s in it for Sampanthan? He will do himself no good, nor make much headway endorsing Fonseka against a long established Tamil. However, doing it via a Sivaji posture will bring many second preference and even many more first preference (that is some may mark Sivaji second, a waste but it will happen) votes into Sampanthan’s (a.k.a. Fonseka’s) lap.

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