A reply to SEP-SL General Secretary, Deepal Jayasekara: The struggle of the SEP left faction

By Nandana Nannetti 

Nandana at a SEP demonstration 

The Socialist Equality Party, Sri Lanka, released three special documents on the World Socialist Web Site (WSWS) (Sinhala) last Friday,  06 May 2023. They are about the expulsion of the two comrades who worked in the leadership of the party, Sanjaya Jayasekera and Nandana Nannetti.

Among those articles, one is under the caption, “SEP Central Committee Resolution on the anti-Party Activities of Nandana Nannetti and Sanjay Jayasekera” and  another document by SEP General Secretary, Deepal Jayasekara  is captioned, ‘Letter to SEP members regarding the expulsion of Nandana Nannetti and Sanjaya Jayasekera’.  I am forwarding to publish herewith,  the letter that I sent to the party leadership in early January 2023, clarifying the issues arising from the above-mentioned Central Committee resolution, passed in November 2022, and exposing the true nature of the allegations therein. This reply of mine  was concealed from the membership by the party regime.

We are publishing this letter of reply in order  to expose the cheap scheming behavior of the party bureaucracy and to open the space for the necessary discussion to reverse these negative developments.

The regime’s suggestion that what has arisen is a disciplinary issue is an attempt to divert the cadre and the working class from the essential task of political preparation. In fact, on the contrary, there were prologed political differences between the party regime and the Left faction.

Chief among them are as follows:

  1. Rejection of the left group’s request for a political assessment about party cadres  deserting the party even under the most favorable conditions within the class struggle.
  2. Not taking forward the struggle to solve the problems related to the growing disregard for principles, anti-intellectualism, backwardness, theoretical and political poverty in the articles of the Sinhala section of the World Socialist Web Site and pragmatism.


  • Aligning the party with the Rajapaksa government’s reactionary racist campaign, disregarding the SEP left faction’s opposition to the forced cremation of bodies of Muslim victims of Covid-19.
  • Derailment from issues of principle and revolutionary tradition: For example, the regime subverted the political position proposed by the Left faction that the party should oppose the persecution of Ranjan Ramanayake (the whistleblower and then a  Member of parliament from the United National Party) by the government supported by the Buddhist establishment, stating that such a stance is  pandering to the middle classes. 
  1. The leadership’s  role in confusing  the perspective of the International Committee that the self-determination of the oppressed nations could only be achieved under the dictatorship of the working class, and the far-reaching cosequence of these distortions to the unity of the woring class across ethnic divisions. 
  2.  The leadership’s position that the party or the class was not ready for a political general strike during the teachers’ struggle.
  3. Backing off from the campaign, initiated by the international committee, that the schools should not open until the safety of students is assured during the Covid period.
  4. Endeavours of the Left faction to base the party on the policy of the International Committee in respect of genuine action committees. Also, the left faction objected to the party deceiving themselves by writing reports about non-existing action  committees, instead of taking a genuine struggle forward within the working class to build action committees; the left faction raised objections when the bureacracy  knowingly worked to disband the once vibrant and genuine action committee, the ‘Action Committee for the Defence of Freedom of Art and Expression’, and for the bureaucracy misusing  its name. 
  5. The turn of the bureaucracy, in building the party and developing the website (WSWS) to meet that end, to propagandist substitutes like collecting social media ‘likes’, instead of actively engaging in developing the theoretical and political analysis and persuading the working class into accepting it.
  6.  The art sub-committee of the editorial board has been dissolved for many years, thereby preventing the discussions on art criticism and cultural essays by the Sri Lanka section and, thus, negecting  the contributions  by the party in those areas.
  7. Suppressing political, theoretical and organizational disagreements in party councils from locale councils and political committee to membership meetings in an authoritarian and bureaucratic manner, contrary to the principles of democratic centralism. Prohibiting party comrades from discussing political and organizational issues between party regional locales. The opposition of the left faction to the party’s submission to the needs of an undemocratic bureaucracy which ignores the party’s constitution and traditions.
  8. Rejection by the Left faction of the leadership’s tendency to ally itself with the pseudo-left on several occasions.
  9. The left faction’s  opposition and  taking actions against the party bureacrcay’s sectarian and destructive practice  in making room for the middle class and the pseudo-left to take over the command of the mass struggles, without actively intervening in giving a revolutionary socialist leadership to the massive workers’ and popular struggles that arose in Sri Lanka in 2022, as a peak in the phenomenon of the resurgence of the class struggles globally.

Our faction is ready to discuss the political content of these issues in detail in the future.

Therefore, we believe that the document that follows contains important lessons for the workers and the oppressed. This is because the entire working class is faced with the critical historical challenge of solving the crisis of the revolutionary leadership of the world working class, especially that of  Sri Lanka and South Asia.


Dear Comrade Jayasekara,

Regarding your letter dated November 19, 2022 informing that I have been expelled from the party.

The party leadership has taken a decision which is politically and morally unacceptable, which ignores the principles of the Fourth International and the constitution of the party itself. I express my objection regarding this decision and, demand for taking steps to correct it.

You have accused me of openly violating the Bolshevik principles upon which the party is based and stated that I have been expelled accordingly. As stated in your letter, “..political theoretical or organizational differences should be discussed only within the party.” Can you say that you, who is hurling this accusation at me, was the one who is responsible for preventing such a discussion? The leadership did not allow a discussion. My letters were not discussed. There were no replies to them. No. The PC said that it was a shame to discuss them. In the last CC that I participated in, I requested to schedule a discussion on this and requested that I should be given 45 minutes to forward my opinion. No one except Comrade Sanjaya approved it. To answer a mountain of accusations, I was given only the 5 minutes time which was given to all the others. You introduced it to the membership as democracy. Earlier, the International Committee intervened and adjourned the conference, but the leadership deliberately prevented the development of a discussion. Only a single membership meeting was held during the 3 months. It too was filled with distortions, insults and slander.

The letters I wrote were concealed from the membership and, certain facts in those letters were misrepresented to try and mislead the members. finally, you banned my membership on June 18, 2022 in a very conspiratorial manner. After squandering five months without any investigation or discussion, I was expelled from the party. This is a result of a conspiracy.

I informed you, when the conspiracy was launched in Ambalangoda Local. Refer the letter I sent you on May 19, 2022. Instead of looking into it and solving the problem, you implemented a plan to ban my membership. On June 18, my membership was suspended because I stated that machinations were used in the 3rd Congress and in its preparation. All I asked for was a discussion.

You have completely ignored the struggle that Sanjay, myself and other members waged unceasingly demanding in writing and verbally for a discussion. You consciously worked to isolate us by spreading among the members that we are not ready for a discussion.

Therefore, your allegation that I have publicly criticized the comrades in the party leadership ignoring the Bolshevik tradition of discussing internal issues, is extremely fraudulent and hypocritical. You cite as an example the defensive measures I took against the attempts of comrades Marlon and Rohantha to implicate Sanjay and me with the CIA. But you have nothing to say about making those implications. No inquiry was held. You are now trying to defend this sinister act.

The “News Atlas” had argued that Gotagogama activist Chamara Jeevantha Dedduwage, who had worked as a volunteer at PAFFREL between 2009-2020, and had CIA connections because of his service to the above organization. So the “News Atlas” argued that, the Gotagogama was an American regime change scheme. Dedduwage was a Sanjay’s FB friend. Marlon distributed the relevant video to the local members through WhatsApp and used it to spread the predatory propaganda that Sanjay had CIA connections. Sanjay put a stop to this effort with a very clear analysis on 17th July 2022 on this video.

However later, Rohantha spread these allegations against both Sanjaya and myself. I had no space to answer, not just because of the party ban, but also because that I was convinced by experience that these actions would be approved by the party leadership. For example, in the 3rd Congress, Rohantha made an absurd and conspiratorial statement, that I was chasing away those who are joining the party, accusing them of being police spies. This absurd conspiratorial statement against me was defended by the leadership by its silence.

So, the FB was the only alternative available to me to explain matters to party members and workers to protect myself from this dangerous witch hunt. Now you continue the witch hunt from the other side. You say that Nandana has made false accusations against these comrades and exposed them and the party to a witch hunt. I wrote that people who do such things can even kill me. Now you are distorting that statement too and making it seem like I am exposing the party to a witch hunt.

However, comrade Jayasekera, truth cannot be concealed forever. Especially under the present conditions of the class struggle, if the party leadership is not prepared to be corrected, it is unavoidable that the truth will stand up against it. But this is what you are saying: “We will destroy you in every way, you must allow it. That is what discipline is.” For the working class, discipline is the understanding gained through genuine democratic discussion to act on the perspectives needed to liberate itself from capitalism. It is the way to open space for that.

You don’t accept this. When allowed to speak (only 5 minutes! We asked for time to explain things!) you angrily say that you are talking about a democracy instead of the issue. That’s what you say to the members, but you don’t see the damage the lack of democratic discussion has done to the party. 

Your letter further says that I condemned the party for publishing the statements made by party comrades on the World Socialist Web Site, as statements made by workers. Are you saying that I should approve your actions when you are presenting a Central Committee member of the party as an ordinary plantation worker, or when you are posting a photograph of hundreds of workers of another organization introducing it as a photograph of the Health Action Committee, to deceive the World Socialist Web Site, the Party and society and risk tarnishing the reputation of the WSWS and the movement? How many reports have you written to WSWS about action committees which have never been in existence on the earth? Should the damage to the site be tolerated? Can you explain the role of these actions in the development of the class consciousness of the working class? 

Do you think that, instead of struggling to win over the workers, what you are doing in your search for unprincipled survival strategies, foreign to Marxism and the International committee is justifiable?

I can clearly say that these disregards were behind the party’s passive policy during the days of the struggle that emerged from April, were flowing from ignorance of the policies that the ICFI has called forth for the fifth phase. This needs to be discussed. According to you, such a discussion is possible in the party only under one condition. That is to justify whatever the leadership is doing or not doing. There is no room to discuss these issues based on the policy of the International Committee. You do not present a single political reason for the expulsion of Sanjay and me. That is, behind our expulsion is the need to avoid discussion of political issues needed to achieve objectives. 

You say that the expulsion was done purely on disciplinary issues. From what political issues, are these disciplinary issues have erupted? 

We are the revolutionary political party of the working class. A person who accepts that the profound problems arising in such a party are divorced from politics, is a very poor revolutionary. It is necessary to discuss and resolve these issues in a very fraternal and genuine manner. Avoiding such discussions is the easiest and most destructive path. Therefore, I suggest a proper investigation and a full discussion with the assistance of the ICFI representatives. I am ready to explain these issues in depth to the international committee. Besides, I request you to not to assume that you will be able to avoid these issues by keeping me out of the party. Allow me to state that even if I am kept out of the party, I will use all my strength to uphold the perspectives of the international committee.

You have said that “According to the International Committee, we have entered a period of uprising and that the 4-month long struggle from April was betrayed by the pseudo-left.”

You worked to stay away from it right from the beginning of the ‘struggle’. Despite the intervention of the International Committee, the leadership continued to respond in a tepid manner. As you did not believe that such a struggle could arise, you did petty work without any preparation or discussion. Now you refer to them as a Great Interventions.

The party now says the ‘Struggle’ was betrayed by the pseudo-Left. What did it gain from it? And, is it enough? Is it the maximum or the minimum? What should have been done? What needs to be improved and corrected? What was missing? You do not have an assessment and, this dismissal is a proof that you are not ready to have this essential discussion.

In the events of 2012, comrade Dave said that if there were as many cadres as in Sri Lanka, the situation would have changed. Events similar to the events in Egypt unfolded here as well. Comrade Dave mentioned that our Congress is similar to the Bolshevik Congress of 1917 in the same sense. You took the meaning of it as to mean that, ‘we had worked like Lenin’s Bolshevik Party, and received a certificate for that from North’. But you have saved only a trifle of a lesson like, “we worked, but the pseudo left betrayed “.

If we had not intervened and formed the Colombo Action Committee, I firmly say that the party would not have a powerful example of the practical validity of the perspectives compiled through the intervention of the International Committee. 

SEP presented an important perspective and programme under the direction of the International Committee. However, We missed the opportunity to intervene in Gotagogama and discuss these perspectives with hundreds of thousand people by maintaining the position that we are not intervening without our party name. It is not through a miracle that Sanjaya got the opportunity through a small left-wing group that expected the party’s intervention to the ‘Aragalaya’ (struggle )- as the mobilization was popularly known- for a discussion and we were able to win a group from them soon. It was a result of the principled struggle that the party has been leading for a long time. We won them over by intervening in the ‘Aragalaya’ for the perspectives developed by the party. Some of the comrades among them had known the party for decades and had come across its literature.

As Sanjay and Nandana represent “an expression of hostile class pressure exerting on the party that has percolated through middle class sections to divert the party away from the struggle to build revolutionary leadership of the working class and for weakening the party”, in your letter, you are calling for a ferocious fight against it. This is an unexplained provocative statement. You have not given thought as to how this fight will be fought by expelling both of them from the party without any discussion or disciplinary investigation. The party should be freed from this policy which misleads the membership and thereby weakens the party. You continue to distort the party constitution in a very dangerous way. It confuses the membership and jeopardizes the future of the party. At times you completely ignore the constitution and at other times use it in a way to mean what you want when you feel it is in your favor.

Quoting paragraph (b) of the section 10 of the party constitution, your letter says that it includes, “..if a member has violated the decisions of a ..board of which he is a member, or has acted in a manner that can be considered harmful to the interests of the SEP and the working class… censuring and suspension for a period not exceeding three months or expulsion from the membership”. I accept this.

However, according to paragraph (d), a disciplinary investigation must be conducted and the member must be informed in writing that an investigation will be conducted. A member has the right to appear before the board to defend himself against all charges before the disciplinary decision is made. You have put all this in the rubbish bin and have concealed this passage from the members. Thus, I say that you are violating the provisions of the constitution regarding the protection of the interests of the party and the working class. A cadre trained in this way would not understand the tasks of the party. Not only the membership but also the working class have the right to know from which political interests you are resorting to such scams.

I would like to end this letter with a warning given by Comrade Dave to the Political Committee of the Sri Lankan section on 8th March, 1990.

“If we examine the problems of the Revolutionary Communist League, it will become clear that the dangers we have identified within the party’s recent experiences generally arise from the failure to base itself firmly on the experience of the national and international movement, including its own party.

“You develop practice without examining their relationship to the overall prior experience of the movement. To the extent that the RCL fails to take root within these historical experiences, it is being driven away from the International Committee by class pressure. We are by no means saying that this is an irreversible continuum or a dominant feature of RCL work.”

“But, as Trotsky said 50 years ago, shortly before his death, ‘Every scratch has the potential to fester. If we don’t disinfect the wound early, there is a danger of festering and spreading and even death. If we think that the party is 98 percent correct and only 2 percent is wrong, it is a mistake. … “…for the Marxist, in so far as his policy conforms to the profound historical continuities by constantly seeking to influence the course of objective historical development, these efforts can achieve considerable success.” (Chronology) 


Nandana Nannetti. 


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