Reincarnation of Varadraja Perumal’s defunct Cabinet Minister
By H.LD Mahindapala
The Twentieth century, it is safe to say, has made all of us into deep historical pessimists – The End of History and the Last man – Francis Fukuyama
One of the primary tasks of a creative and path-breaking political scientist is to demystify and demythologise the hidden past to raise the consciousness of a shared / common political domain to progress into a better and a new world, leaving the misery of the failed past. To achieve this objective, they must be blessed with a holistically integrated intellect with a critical capacity to grasp and understand the new realities that rise constantly as opportunities to carve new paths to the world of tomorrow. But the stupid political scientists will continue to find excuses and theories for the failed past to resuscitate, justify or glorify the political criminals who misled the people into inescapable depths of death, destruction and despair.
I regret to say that my long-time friend Dayan Jayatilleka, who never ceases to advertise himself as a political scientist extraordinaire, has revealed that he belongs to the latter category of political scientists as demonstrated in his latest outburst against the Sinhala-Buddhists, regurgitating the hackneyed theoretical concoctions that had not taken him or his fellow-travellers anywhere.
In his latest tirade against the Sinhala-Buddhists in the Financial Times, shedding buckets of tears for Tamil “grievances and aspirations”, he has returned to his original ideological base locked in cock-eyed theories that formed the basis of Varatharaja Perumal’s state that was dead at birth. He snaked out of it and meandered for a while in the sober world of hard realities which eventually manifested itself in full measure in the last Presidential election. (November 19, 2019). In fact, he was an integral part of it initially. He was a leading light in Gotabaya Rajapaksa’s viyathmaga. But then came the tempting offer of an ambassadorship in the Yahapalanaya administration and he jumped into it breaking all known Sri Lankan records in high-jumping. He must be excused because this kind of high-jumping is built into his genes.
I also gathered that before going on his mission to Moscow he rushed to Prime Minister Mahinda Rajapaksa and assured him that he would work for ‘Pohottuwa’ underhand, betraying his sworn commitment to serve the Yahapalanaya regime. In other words, he was acting according to his genetic make-up of being an “Under..” (no, I do not want to mention the obnoxious word for reasons he knows best) doing underhand deals!
Before I dig my teeth into the meat of his latest attack on Sinhala-Buddhists, it is necessary to highlight that no one can beat Dayan Jayatilleka’s extraordinary capacity to stooge those in power disguised as ‘political science’. The unscrupulous jumps he makes from one side to another is projected by him as the quintessence of political science computed at the highest cerebral level.
He began his career in stooging as a Cabinet Minister in Varadaraja Perumal’s Cabinet. But Perumal was a stooge of India. And, ipso facto, that makes Dayan a stooge of India. Of course, this was done in the name of political science, with a bit Gramsci, Lenin and Marx thrown in for good measure. Then he veered away from Perumal and gravitated towards President Ranasinghe Premadasa. They were two extremes in the inter-ethnic equation. The somersault he made from Perumal to Premadasa deserves an Olympian medal. But it was one of the few good ‘scientific’ decisions he ever made.
He has also kept one foot in NGOs. He was in fact the master of ceremonies for the award given to Paikiasothy Saravanamuttu by Jehan Perera – a Tweedledumbo scratching the back of Tweedledingo, with the blessings of Dayan presiding over the ceremonies. Of course, all this was done in the name of ‘political science’. He thinks that his capacity to rationalise each jump into various camps is ‘political science’. It is his political science that made him one of the leading lights in Gotabaya Rajapaksa’s viyathmaga. It is the same political scientist who is now attacking Gotabaya.
Now in his latest outburst in the Financial Times, reviving the myths of Tamil ‘demands, grievances and aspirations’, he has turned against his idol of yesterday, Gotabaya. He condemns the triumph of Gotabaya as ‘armed Dharmapalism’, echoing Isaac Deutsche’s ‘Prophet Armed: Trotsky.’ But he was quite happy to continue under ‘armed Dharmapala’ until he was recalled. Then when he was recalled he saw his world tumbling down. If he was a man of principles dead against ‘armed Dharmapalaism’ why didn’t he send in his resignation immediately from Moscow saying he will not serve ‘the Sinhala Hard Right’/ ‘Sinhala ultranationalist unilateralism’, which is aiming to “for the first time….. end of Tamil political history’ the end of history of a specifically Tamil politics, the politics of power-sharing at the centre and autonomy at the periphery, damned in the President’s discourse (Parliament Jan 2020) as ‘political agendas founded on race…playing the role of king maker…the influence of extremism’?
But he stayed on hoping that he could continue to represent President Gotabaya — the ‘Sinhala Hard Right’, the ‘armed Dharmapala’ even though he knew that Gotabaya had acknowledged his debt to the ‘Sinhala Hard Right’ / ‘armed Dharmapalism’ for his victory. As a ‘political scientist’ he should have known what he meant and resigned instantly to prove that he was a man of principles, if he has any. He did not resign. He was with ‘the Sinhala Hard Right’ until he was recalled. And when he was thrown out of Moscow, leaving him without a job, he went bananas. If, however, he was asked to continue he would have taken the first trans-Siberian train to Vladivostok – the other end of Russia – proclaiming all the way across the vast tracts of the largest land mass in Asia, as loud as he can, that any rise of any shade of Prabhakaranism and the Vadukoddian ideology was contrary to the principles of his theoretical dodo, Gramsci and his latter-day idol, Gotabaya.
His kinky obsession with Gramsci is as relevant to Sri Lanka as the authoritarian militarism of his most favoured political hero, Fidel Castro. Sri Lanka’s political and social achievements are far greater than those scored by both put together. Take, for instance, his baby doll, Gramsci. There isn’t a following for Gramsci even in Italy – his homeland. But Dayan is now fossicking desperately for Tamil Gramscis in Jaffna. In Moscow he would have noticed that no one gives a hoot to Gramsci. Gramsci was an Italian egg-head whose inedible theoretical spaghetti twisted round his head provided no relief to the hungry Italian workers in Mussolini’s jails. His negligible impact on the Italian workers’ movement did not go beyond the impact of the local Marxists at the Wellawatte Spinning and Weaving Mills. He failed to move the Italian workers to any meaningful political goal.
The Italians are reacting to Covid-19 more than to irrelevant Gramsci. But after he came back from Moscow Dayan has gone hysterical. Dayan is fossicking in Jaffna for Tamil Gramscis who will be totally irrelevant to either peninsula politics or national issues. His writing indicates that his knowledge of Gramsci makes him an exceptional ‘political scientist’. Our intellectuals are very good at dropping names of fashionable thinkers of the West. But they never pause to ask how relevant they are to ground realities of Sri Lanka. For instance, in the last presidential election was it Gramsci who determined the result or Buddha? They drop names to impress how clever they are. But how many of their theories have moved the nation beyond its cultural and spiritual base?
With his latest somersault Dayan has jumped into the camp of discombobulated jokers in the anti-national NGOs. His greatest achievement so far was his victory at UNHRC. Did he score that victory defending the bellicose Vadukoddian ideology or the peace-making state of Rajapaksa – the leading icon of Sinhala-Buddhism in contemporary times? He might try to come back saying that there is a fundamental difference between the Rajapaksa he served in Geneva and the Rajapaksa who has thrown him out now. But that will be all hogwash. He will only be splitting hairs trying to prove that there are two Rajapaksas, one of whom is not so Sinhala-Buddhistic as the other.
We are in a time when even the UNPers regret that they had swung to the ‘Hard Tamil Right’, giving ‘Ellam’ which runs parallel with Eelam, under Ranil Wickremesinghe, a leader rejected by his followers. The millions that voted for Gotabaya were not that stupid not to recognise the difference between the many shades of Prabhakaranism, including cock-eyed Dayanishitism, which pretends to be the kokatath thailya, and the Sinhala-Buddhist forces that took on the most formidable force ever launched by the Tamils, backed by Solheims, Millibands and the well-oiled machine of the Tamil Diaspora. Whether in the Vadukoddai War, or in electoral contest, or in confronting Erick Solheims and Millibands the Podi Appuhamys and Podi Nonas who voted with their feet knew that the Rajapaksas stood as defenders of Sinhala-Buddhism. If they knew it at that level how come our ‘political scientist’ didn’t know it? Why was he with the ‘armed Dharmapalas’ when they were buttering his bread? And why has he jumped once again to ‘armed Vadukoddians’ who committed the grievous crime against peace – the only community to do so?
His career has zig-zagged across the political compass in so many directions that it is difficult to locate him at any given place at any given time. He has been all over the place, justifying each position as the latest political science of a pundit whose infallibility exceeds that of the Pope. His unscrupulous tergiversations indicate clearly that he is for sale for the highest bidder. Dayan, as everyone knows, is the proverbial hound who is loyal to any master willing to let him lick the crumbs that fall off the table. Karl Manning was thinking of characters like Dayan when he said that the intellectual’s pen is always ready for sale.
Spinning his theoretical yarns as usual, pretending to be Marx XIV (or is it Gramsci II?) he has come swinging against Gota. This Pavlovian behaviourial pattern, salivating at the first sight of a bone thrown in his direction, is a clear indication of an incurable recidivist returning to his infantile days when he was a stooge of Varadraja Perumal who was a stooge of India.
I don’t have to ask him to get stuffed because his head is already stuffed with all the theoretical muck that justifies authoritarian Castro’s one-man regime and other left-wing characters of the Marxist left. He believes in his exaggerated greatness as if he is God’s gift to Sri Lanka. But only knowing people know (Singlish) that he has been juggling so many balls that he has come to point where he does not know whose ball he is juggling now. What is clear now is that he up for grabs for anyone who wants their balls to be juggled. He is now trending towards Sajith Premadasa. Soon he is likely to surface as the guru and ideologue of Premadasa. Will Premadasa abandon his other guru, Victor Ivan and hire Dayan. Or will he have both?
Victor Ivan theories didn’t take Sajith very far in the last election. The populist tampons and buns didn’t win. The people went for their spiritual and cultural values. How far will Dayan’s theories take Sajith?
To sum up, the grass that comes of the bull at the butt end of his anatomy has been more productive to the nation, down the ages, than the constipated theories that had come out of Dayana’s four-legged brain.
It’s time he started thinking on two legs.