Sunday, 26 September 2010

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Security News | Sundayobserver.lk - Sri Lanka
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SWRD's vision lives on

Today is the 52nd death anniversary of the founder leader of the Sri Lanka Freedom Party Premier S.W.R.D. Bandaranaike. As an epoch making national leader, statesman, intellectual and the "Silver tongued orator of Asia", his stature stands high above the leaders this country had during the past two centuries.

S.W.R.D. Bandaranaike

S.W.R.D's brilliant career was stopped by the bullets of an assassin on a day like today. The whole country mourned his death. People in long queues lined up from old Parliament up to Bambalapitiya in four rows for a number of days to pay their respects, when the remains were lying at the Galle Face Parliament building.

When his funeral took place at Horagolla, people flocked and a sea of heads were seen at all open spaces and hundreds if not thousands of his admirers, mostly the common folk from every nook and corner of the country climbed trees to view the last journey of that great son of Sri Lanka.

S.W.R.D was born as the only son of Sir Solomon Dias Bandaranaike who epitomised the local class of elites who had been subservient to the British Raj not only being their local servants but also went on to imitate the colonial masters in their way of life, thinking and customs.

Masses

S.W.R.D a product of Oxford University excelled in education and returned to the country at the time that the national resurgence led by Anagarika Dharmapala was taking place. In utter contrast to his father Sir Soloman, S.W.R.D chose to work for the masses and donned the national dress woven in handloom with thread he had spun in his own charaka at home.

In the 1940s he formed the Sinhala Maha Sabha and on the eve of independence agreed to merge it with the National Congress of D. S. Senanayake to form the UNP. In the first Government of Premier Senanayake, S.W.R.D was appointed Local Government, and Health Minister and the Leader of the House.

But very soon S.W.R.D was to be disappointed with the policies D. S. Senanayake was pursuing. When the national (official) language policy issue came up Senanayake wished to retain English as the official language. S.W.R.D left the government with D. A. Rajapaksa and joined the Opposition. In 1951 he founded the SLFP that was the first political party to formulate the Middle Path and Non Alignment policies.

In 1956 the people rejected the UNP then led by Sir John Kotelawala and elected the Mahajana Eksath Peramuna, a coalition of the SLFP led by S.W.R.D and the VLSSP led by Philip Gunawardena. The landslide majority the MEP received in 1956 was the protest of the masses, the rural intelligentsia Sangha, Weda, Guru, Govi, Kamkaru the five major forces comprising Buddhist clergy, physicians, teachers, farmers and workers. Poets, writers, oriental scholars and artistes played a key role.

Socialist measures

S.W.R.D and Philip Gunawardena introduced several socialist measures from 1956 such as the Paddy Lands Act, nationalisation of the Colombo Port was the domain of foreign companies, nationalisation of the bus transport and formation of the Ceylon Transport Board. By 1958 the right wing of the MEP, especially those in the SLFP were scheming against S.W.R.D and they insisted on the ouster of Philip Gunawardena. Philip and his cabinet colleague William de Silva crossed over to the Opposition. When they crossed over Phillip said in Parliament, "Prime Minister, your life is in danger".

The right wing plotted as predicted, Minister of Health Wimala Wijewardena and Mapitigama Buddharakkhita were the forces that headed the plot with others of the SLFP right wing. Somarama Thera, a renegade bhikkhu shot Premier Bandaranaike at his Rosmead Place residence and S.W.R.D was rushed to hospital. He succumbed to the injuries after undergoing surgery.

"A foolish man in the robes of a bhikkhu shot me. Take pity on him" were the last words, of the great son of Sri Lanka S.W.R.D.

Fifty-two years later, today, the SLFP continues to be the major political party representing all sections of people from the North to the South. It is led today by another great son of the soil President Mahinda Rajapaksa, son of D. A. Rajapaksa who was the closest associate and friend of S.W.R.D.

 

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