|JVP dissident female firebrand reveals it all|
Dharma Dimuthu Attigalle is a politburo member of the JVP. She was one of the three said to be sacked by the Somawansa Faction of the party for supporting the dissident group led by Kumar Gunaratnam alias Kumar Mahattaya, the so called underground leader of the party. Better known by her alias name Krishanthi, she is one who survived the massive annihilation of JVPers by the UNP between 1987 and 90.
She says she is married to the revolution and dedicated to achieving the aim of socialism in Sri Lanka. Dimuthu, who is the leader of the women’s wing of the party, has not been seen in the frontline in the recent past. In this interview, Dimuthu describes her past, the party’s split, the future of the dissident group and answers all the rumours that have been doing the rounds in the party circles.
Q: What was the role you played in the JVP?
A: I am a full time member of the party. At the moment I am in the party’s politburo. I joined the party when I was a student at the Bandarawela Central College in the eighties. I became a fulltime member in 1988. When the party retreated in the aftermath of the assassination of Comrade Rohana Wijeweera, I was instructed by the party to join the teaching service. I was trained at Peradeniya Teacher Training College and worked as an English teacher till 1994. When the party resumed work in 1994, I came back.
Q: Do you have any other family members with political background?
A: No. My parents were from Ratnapura but we were brought up in Bandarawela. My elder sister lives in Australia while the younger sister is in Bangladesh. I have one younger brother. None of them engage in politics.
Q: What made you to take up politics?
A: Since my school days I have seen social injustices and I read lot of socialist books almost freely available in the country then. Apart from that there were many full time members in our Advanced Level classes. It was during the late eighties and we enjoyed student struggles. With the state suppression rising, we became more determined to take up this path.
Q: How do you see yourself coming up to today’s position in the women’s wing of the party?
A: I did not join the women’s wing of the party first, but worked as an ordinary member. After 1994, there was a need to revive the party’s women’s wing. I was entrusted with this task. On March 08, 1996 we officially launched the Socialist Women’s Union. I was the National Organiser of the SWU until 2009. By that time second level leaders of the SWU had come up to be able to take up that position and I requested the party to task me with other duties at District level organizing. I was officially appointed to the politburo in 2010.
Q: How do you explain the current situation in the party?
A: We always had ideological differences and debates within the party. We believe it is right to have such differences and debates for any living political movement. We always argued for what we believed was right and correct. When the party engaged in alliance politics and its stance on the national question were examples where we fought hard within the party. What occurred at the end was exploding this ideological dispute exploded out of the party circle and some our leaders took the crisis to the national media.
Q: Was there any fight to topple the incumbent leadership?
A: If there was such a need then the party members could have done that at the national convention in 2010. Then there was no such need or demand.
Q: How did the crisis affect the women’s wing of the party?
A: All those who had worked at the orgnaisational structural body are with us. Samanmali Gunasinghe is the National Organiser of the SWU. She alone is there with the bureaucratic group. Apart from that we commenced a new body by the name Women’s Movement for Liberation. All those who worked at the SWU except for a handful are with this movement now. We did not come out of the party. It was the bureaucratic group that had been pushed out. All the fulltimers are with us. We are the party.
Q: How can you describe yourself as the party?
A: Ownership of the party registered with the Elections Commissioner is with them. They have the sign board. We have the members. The party is with us. Party means the membership. Majority of members, activists are with us.
Q: You are not among the popular faces of the dissident group. Why?
A: It is not so. I did a lot of work after the split of the party. Only that I did not participate in the rounds of seminars and public lectures. The organization decides who should conduct them. That basically depends on the theme of the topic selected for seminars and lectures. I was holding district level meetings recently.
Q: The November Heroes Commemoration (Il Maha Viru Samaruwa) was one of the most important events for the dissidents. But you were not there. Why?
A: It was due to a personal obligation. I had to attend a family matter. I had obtained the party’s permission very much before they organized the Ill Maha Viru Samaruwa. I was abroad. I was in Bangladesh. My sister lives in Chittagong in Bangaldesh. Her husband works there. I returned on November 20.
Q: Is it only Bangladesh you visited during the recent visit. There were rumours that you were in Malaysia holding talks with members of the LTTE diaspora.
A: No. I left the country on November 3 on a Mihin Air flight. Its number was MJ 502. Anyone can make inquiries and check my itinerary.