AKD's overseas visits

-By Virgil

(Lanka-e-News -18.June.2024, 11.30 PM) “Travel makes one modest. You see what a tiny place you occupy in the world.” ~Gustav Flaubert  

In comparison to the other politicians in Sri Lanka today, Anura Kumara Dissanayake (AKD) was not very well known to the world community. In the books of the West, he might have been an alien figure and a little known political leader in the East. Being head of the Janatha Vimukthi Peramuna (JVP), an acknowledged left-wing, Marxist political party that engineered two unsuccessful attempts at the overthrow of two democratically elected governments may not be an attractive element in his resume. The history of the JVP, whose economic theories are based on Marxist principles, is not a well-meaning story for the modern day political field in which capitalism and quasi-capitalism is the driving force of the twenty first century's world economy.

But Aragalaya-22 changed all that. Apart from opening eyes of the rural and urban Sri Lanka, it helped greatly to expose the glaring inabilities and weaknesses of the systems engineered and run by the status quo to overcome crisis after crisis in the country. Failure of those attempts lay at the bottom of a new movement which later has become a mass eruption to oust the incumbent President of the country; it moved to open a barren field for the wise and able men and women to choose a strategically planned and plotted method of galvanizing an enlightened national consciousness. A bankrupt nation looked to a figure and a political movement that could deliver them from sufferance and brutality of class-differences. By this time the JVP had already formed a coalition which is now known as the National People's Power (NPP). The JVP is an integral part of it; but the NPP has managed to embrace fresh ideas; fresh strategies and fresh approaches to economic principles and political power.

Instead of the 'barrel of the gun', the NPP adopted a totally democratic tool and means of capturing power, at the end of the line where people stand to cast their ballot. It is indeed a remarkably singular transformation; a silent revolution of ideas and ideals! This transformation did not occur in a flash. It took some time but the pace at which it did happen was not all that long nor too short. A political movement that began its journey through inglorious struggles, a party whose hierarchical leadership that spent a fair amount of its initial stages in the dark jungles in the country simply cannot turn itself into a thoroughly democratic organization without introspective sub-journeys.

But the country's economic collapse, its exposure of ceaseless corruption and financial dishonesty of our politicians paved the way for an alternative people's party to emerge. An unequivocal rejection of the sociopolitical status quo, its mindless callousness in which it held the most vulnerable segment of the people and the emerging evidence of the rot that the charlatans of politics ran the country down this road has produced another potential reality: an NPP government and an NPP President.

Yet, while this scenario is playing its role exclusively within the shores of the Island, Anura Kumara Dissanayake, the leader of the NPP remained an enigmatic leader in the minds of the leaders in the international arena. Enigmatic in the sense of being relatively unknown, relatively seldom talked about but certainly known in the capacity as an electrifying speaker in the vernacular language. Various ambassadors, High Commissioners and other emissaries representing the West, East, North and South of the globe placed inside Colombo had not placed any emphasis on this AKD, nor on his new party, NPP.

The central message of the NPP is unobtrusively clear, yet its echo in the skies outside Sri Lanka was absent, non-existent. Who is this guy? Who is the leader of the National People's Power? Who is AKD? They had to answer this question. Not only did they have to, they had no alternative and they had to do it in an unforgettable way so that the there is no room for rumors and innuendos. With a less-than- forceful orator and an illogical conversationalist, the NPP would not have gone anywhere considerable. But they do have AKD.

The most attractive trait of AKD is not his oratorical skill; not his skills in managing a very difficult campaign strategy; not his evident knowledge of most basic subjects the country needs to address as a struggling economy. His greatest asset and his most remarkable trait is his authenticity and empathy. That quality of simplicity and oozing authenticity comes out in most one-on-one interviews and conversations. That humbleness and simplicity, instead of being a weakness as some arrogant and self-centered narcissistic men and women would display every now and then, remains AKD's strength and force. Never in his political life should AKD consider shedding it in exchange for being too busy or too preoccupied with 'greater' burdens to bear.

AKD chose a crafty strategy to appeal to the international arena by undertaking to meet his compatriots living in the West and the East. The whole purpose of his visits to the United States of America, Sweden, Italy, France, South Korea and some other countries was not solely to meet the Sri Lankan Diaspora. When he meets his own countrymen, it's not only the Diaspora whose interest he stirs. He certainly stirs the minds and inquisitiveness of the leaders of those countries. Their representatives placed in Sri Lanka send their opinions, views and assessments back to their Ministries of Foreign affairs and State respectively. That process creates a sequence that would continue up and down their own line Ministries. Anura Kumara Dissanayake who was an enigma or even an unknown quantity becomes a real man in flesh and blood. They have no option but to take note of him; they have to follow his itinerary, not item by item, but minimally an overall eye on the various travels and stops of the man.

As for AKD, it is a very prudent way to market himself as a leader that each of these countries would have to reckon with. Instead of one bird, he manages to kill many with the same single stone. However, in my humble assessment, AKD's most significant visit was the one he made to our closest neighbor, India. India has her eyes and ears open to Sri Lanka for more reasons than one could reason out. India's Research and Analysis Wing (RAW), her own CIA and her presence in the country is no fresh, breaking news. RAW's undiluted interest in our relative conduct vis-à-vis China cannot be minimized. Its engagement with local elites and the commoners as well cannot be understated. RAW is not only powerful, it's clever, crafty and could be decisive in a moment of truth. Surely, they had more than a cursory interest in advising India's central government on the validity and relevance of AKD in Sri Lankan politics.

Likewise, the West and other countries too would have been advised profusely by their advisory personnel located in their embassies in Colombo. AKD achieved the purpose of becoming more than 'known' in the ruling circles of the countries he visited. AKD did not let them down; nor did he let down our own men and women living in these far away places in the globe.  There might have been secondary reasons for his overseas visits- fundraising, alluring the Diaspora to come back and cast their votes, encourage some of the more affluent ones to come back and invest in their motherland so on and so forth. But the greatest investment that our Diaspora could make is their commitment to make it sure that the leaders of those countries realize that AKD is for real.

-By Virgil

The writer can be contacted at [email protected]         

Virgil's Collection

by     (2024-06-18 19:20:49)

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