Sunday Observer Online


Sunday, 25 September 2016





Marriage Proposals
Government Gazette

57th death Anniversary of S.W.R.D. Bandaranaike falls tomorrow :

Remembering a noble statesman

Sri Lanka Freedom Party founder and one-time Prime Minister S.W.R.D. Bandaranaike personified the generation that led the cultural transition of his country from a European colony to a free South Asian nation.

Born in 1899 with the proverbial silver spoon in his mouth, S.W.R.D. Bandaranaike received an Anglican Church baptism and his godfather was the British Colonial Governor of the day, Joseph West Ridgeway.

In keeping with the colonial lifestyle of his father, Maha Mudaliyar Solomon Dias Bandaranaike, the laird of Horagolla, Solomon Jr. was bestowed the middle names of West Ridgeway.

His mother was Ezlynn Obeysekera, a member of the low-country nobility. Young Bandaranaike had his early education at S. Thomas’ College, Colombo. After a brilliant academic career at the Oxford University, England he returned to Ceylon as a Barrister-at-Law. Elected to the Maradana Ward of the Colombo Municipal Council defeating the then undisputed labour leader A.E. Gunasinghe, Bandaranaike plunged headlong into national politics. He was elected uncontested to the legislature as the member for Veyangoda under the Donoughmore Constitution.

He married Sirima Bandaranaike, the eldest daughter of Barnes Ratwatte Disawe of Mahawalathenna. The marriage was a union of the upcountry and low country nobility, which paved the path for Sirimavo, a housewife, to be the first woman Prime Minister in two daughters Sunethra and Chandrika and son Anura Bandaranaike.
Dressed in national fatigues enjoying the foreign aroma
The late premier’s body lies in state
A loving father with daughters Sunethra, Chandrika and son Anura

The Bandaranaike family has set the ground-breaking record with father and mother being Prime Ministers and one daughter also Prime Minister and first Woman Executive President of the country and the son, Leader of the Opposition and a brilliant speaker.

Bandaranaike was appointed Minister of Health and Local Government and Leader of the House in the first post independence government.

He crossed the floor in 1951, and later formed the Sri Lanka Freedom Party, which he said treads the middle path in politics. The year 1956 became the early turning point in post colonial Sri Lankan politics when various progressive forces were galvanised into a new political organisation, the Mahajana Eksath Peramuna (MEP) under Bandaranaike’s leadership.

It is a coalition of SLFP Marxist Guru Philip Gunawardene’s VLSSP and W. Dahanayake’s Basha Peramuna.
At a Buddhist temple
On a parade after the landslide victory

Donning the garb of the man in the street, with his flowing banian and cloth, Bandaranaike went around the country with his socialist program in which pride of place was given to the Sinhala Language, Buddhism and indigenous culture. Bandaranaike with his Sangha-Veda-Guru-Govi-Kamkaru ‘Pancha Maha Balavegaya’ fought the election in 1956 and secured a resounding victory. Master of the spoken word and a democrat at heart at difficult times he explained away that the country was undergoing a period of transition. His socialist government established diplomatic relations with Russia, China and Eastern European Communist countries. As pledged in his political manifesto his socialist government nationalised private bus companies and the Colombo Port. His record-breaking but short tenure as Prime Minister was punctuated with unending labour strikes, political conflicts and disputes among the irreconcilable political elements in the government. Soon, dissension set in when the two Marxist Ministers left the government due to internal conflict.

The United Bhikku Front which left no stone unturned to bring Bandaranaike to power found fault with him later and became the ardent enemy of the government. In the end it was a fight between the progressives and reactionaries in the government. Prime Minister Bandaranaike was shot dead on September 25, 1959 at his Rosemead Place residence by an assassin, who along with the main architect of the conspiracy to kill him, were prominent members of the United Bhikku Front. The Prime Minister succumbed to his injuries on the following day, September 26, 1959 – an unforgettable day in Sri Lankan politics.

The new cabinet with S.W.R.D. Bandaranaike as the Prime Minister


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