|Wednesday, 18 June 2003|
Seventy years of Anandasangaree, MP for Jaffna District
by Prof. Bertram Bastiampillai
Veerasingham Anandasangaree reached seventy years on June 15th this year. It is certainly a landmark in one's lifetime. Born at Point Pedro, he had his schooling in the Northern Peninsula and at Zahira College, Colombo.
Anandasangaree commenced his working life as a teacher at Ja-Ela and Ratmalana and then in Jaffna. Both as a student and teacher, his experience was varied. However by 1967 he took to the legal profession and practised till 1983. He entered parliament in 1970 and attributes his victory to his being a good teacher.
Nevertheless intrepid Anandasangaree remained inexorably drawn into the hurly burly of politics. Like to many an idealism enthused youth of the mid twentieth century socialism appealed to him.
He entered the political arena as a youth leaguer of the Lanka Sama Samaja Party. Anandasangaree spent a decade till 1965 as a young Sama Samajist and then joined the All Ceylon Tamil Congress in May, 1966 after a solid grounding in socialism. Later, he became a founder member of the Tamil Untied Front in May, 1972 which was transformed into the Tamil United Liberation Front in 1976. He found the attraction of politics inescapable in the turbulent eventful years of Tamil and national politics. These were years when ideologies remained fluid in politics.
Anandasangaree had been president of the Tamil Congress Youth Front and joint-Propaganda Secretary of the TULF from mid 1972 to mid 1983.
He had been elected to the Politburo of the Tamil Untied Liberation Front, and as a Senior Vice President of this popular front in 1993. By 1998, Anandasangaree had advanced to be Acting President of the TULF and remained so in a tumultuous period in Tamil political life till he was elected President on June 23, 2002. He continued to progress in politics, his calling.
Anandasangaree had a fruitful political career beginning his versatile activities in local government as chairman of the Village Council and Town Council, Kilinochchi with a long innings from 1965 extending to 1969. In 1970, he made his debut into national political activity on being elected to represent the Kilinochchi electorate. Elected again in July, 1977, Anandasangaree continuously represented Kilinochchi for 13 years since 1970 in Parliament.
He quit Parliament formed on the results of a criticised referendum rather than more democratically on the outcome of a general election.
Anandasangaree's active and lively career in politics was marked by victory and defeat and he learned to take gain and loss with equanimity, respectful of the wishes of the voter. This trait in his political life endeared him to the electorate.
No wonder, he won the Parliamentary election of October, 2000 and December, 2001 striding comfortable into the first place in the Jaffna Electoral District including Kilinochchi District, garnering a remarkable number of votes to emerge as the highest priority votes winner. He had established his acceptability to the voter beyond doubt, as a political leader of stature.
During a bustling political journey, Anandasangaree had attended a number of international conferences, participating in Parliamentary delegations to Britain, Zambia Norway and Chile, and international meetings in Austria, Bangkok and Jakarta. He enriched his experience and knowledge of democracy and legislatures using to profit the international gatherings. He had transformed himself into a politically professional leader.
During his career, Anandasangaree had conferred and discussed with eminent personalities national and political affairs. Dr. N.M. Perera, S.A. Wickramesinghe, Pieter Keuneman, Thondaman (Senior), Colvin R. De Silva, Vivienne Gunawardana, Sirimavo Bandaranaike, her son Anura Bandaranaike, Dudley Senanayake, J.R. Jeyewardene, R. Premadasa, A.C.S. Hameed, S.J.V. Chelvanayagam, M. Sivasithamparam, A. Amirthaligam, V.N. Navaratnam and several other "Contemporary Great" were those who enhanced Anandasangaree's understanding of men and matters. Anandasangaree is conversant in the national languages and heritage.
Anandasangaree's affable nature, his modest bearing despite his position or knowledge, his readiness to understand difficulties of citizens, his non-communal outlook, and his eager concern to help the disadvantaged or deprived endeared him to a flock of friends and followers alike.
He was firm in his beliefs but friendly and yet not pliant or compromising in character. Anandasangaree's sense of probity and equity are impeccable, a rare quality in many a public figure now.
He won the universal admiration and affection of all the members of the legislatures in which he served because of sincere commitment to wise policy and practice. As Anandasangaree chalks up three score and ten years many will gladly wish him many more years of an energetic and successful, blessed life.
His prudence and patience coupled with his intelligence and experience can embellish local politics and make it more judicious and palatable to all national communities.
Produced by Lake House