SLFP: BORN TO PROSPER | Daily News

SLFP: BORN TO PROSPER

S. W. R. D. Bandaranaike
S. W. R. D. Bandaranaike

At Cabinet meetings, DS used his nephew (Sir Jon’s mother and DS’s sister-in-law happened to be sisters)Sir John Kotalawala to persecute Bandaranaike; if the trick boomerangs astute Bandaranaike would act cautiously for DS to put the blame on his loyal colleague Lionel [Sir John] to avert a poor reflection on his authority. Though artificially created by the Old warrior’s political skills, the hostility between Senanayake and Bandaranaike became worse as the Grand old man’s health condition deteriorated. He was grooming, as any father would do, his son, young Dudley Shelton to take over the ‘wheel’ after him

Young Solomon West, ‘Solla’ to his close acquaints founded a new party called the Progressive Nationalist Party [PNP] at the age of 27. His new party forwarded a programme advocating a Federal type power devolution for strengthening the system of rule in the island. The young Barrister in a further extension of his argument premised a Confederation of South East Asian nations headed by India. Writing a four-part article to Ceylon Morning Leader in 1920s Bandaranaike enlightened the readers on his unique political theory.

Solomon West Ridgeway Dias Bandaranaike came from the aristocratic privileged class of the low country. He was able to identify himself with the average oppressed man in a surprising way; the moderate liberal ideas which he fascinated as an Oxonian helped him to swiftly recognize himself with the desires and aspirations of the ordinary folk.

SWRD soon came to be linked with the island’s foremost political body of the Colonial period, the Ceylon National Congress [CNC] but had suspicions about CNC’s consumerist and reformist strategies which were unacceptable to him. In order to rest his thinking on political affairs of the nation before the people, and inspired by the Indian political model, he created the Sinhala Maha Sabha [SMS] in 1937, which, afterwards became the precursor to the Sri Lanka Freedom Party. Purpose of SMS was to promote Sinhalese culture and provide a platform for echoing community interests. At a Meeting held in Madampe in 1951, the Working Committee of the United National Party led by D S Senanayake rejected the proposals of the Sinhala Maha Sabha. This was one of the reasons for SWRD Bandaranaike to leave the UNP. Bandaranaike led nationalist factions within the government.

In the early 1950s, Prime Minister Don Stephen Senanayake astutely exploited the limitations of political forces unfavourable to him to transform his government into a stable entity from its weak combination a couple of years before. The main opposition, led by strong Marxists was divided into ideological clashes and personal differences.

Senanayake-Bandaranaike Cold-War

At Cabinet meetings, DS used his nephew (Sir Jon’s mother and DS’s sister-in-law happened to be sisters) Sir John Kotalawala to persecute Bandaranaike; if the trick boomerangs astute Bandaranaike would act cautiously for DS to put the blame on his loyal colleague Lionel (Sir John) to avert a poor reflection on his authority.

Though artificially created by the Old warrior’s political skills, the hostility between Senanayake and Bandaranaike became worse as the Grand old man’s health condition deteriorated. He was grooming, as any father would do, his son, young Dudley Shelton to take over the ‘wheel’ after him. SWRD by this time rose to the position of the Leader of the House and UNP’s second in command; but in reality, he was not satisfied, knowing that the Boss was conscientiously manoeuvring to promote the son to take over. SWRD demanded that he be appointed the Deputy PM, a position not provided by the Constitution, but if unofficially adopted he would automatically guide him to be the heir apparent. DS rejected the idea quoting the Constitution and that he would not grant. The writing was on the wall; the brilliant Barrister from Oxford soon realized the tragedy and what is in store for him.

In mid-1951 he finally made up his mind to leave the Party to which he contributed in a big way carrying his powerful Sinhala Maha Sabha’s [SMS] when DS sought to disband Ceylon National Congress [CNC] led by him and form a new political Party in 1946, mainly, for the purpose of preserving the minority support. DS’s CNC, Bandaranaike’s SMS and T B Jaya’s Muslim League [ML] agreed to join hands under the banner of UNP on September 6, 1946. However, SWRD never disbanded the Sinhala Maha Sabha identity but preserved it intact as a precautionary measure in readiness for any mysterious future developments. Bandaranaike quit the government of UNP, crossed the floor of the house with a few faithful colleagues creating the first major rift in the government and the UNP and used his SMS’ strong pedestal in launching a new political party just a day before President Maithripala Sirisena was born and named it Sri Lanka Freedom Party on September 2, 1951.

Sri Lanka Freedom Party is considered as having initiated in 1951 on a socialist economic programme at a time when the political landscape of Sri Lanka was marked by success and economic well-being. SLFP was customarily associated with Sinhala nationalist groups.

Crown Prince syndrome

It is an innate desire of every politician in the region to make his/her off-spring the crown prince. Senanayakes suffered from it in 1940s 50s, Bandaranaikes in 1970, 80s and Rajapaksa’s in 2010s and …? Apart from this inherent craving, DS Senanayake had other aspirations as well in attempting to frustrate the Siyane-Korale’s ancestral feudalists.

Since the formation of the new party in 1951, SLFP platforms stressed on appealing to the emotions of the Sinhala/ Buddhist nationalists masses in rural areas. On the sensitive issue of language, it adopted a “Sinhala only” policy in the mid-1950s though the party initially promoted employing Sinhala and Tamil as national languages. Bandaranaike relied upon the influential Buddhist monks to communicate its sentiments to the Southern villages. SWRD Became a champion among Sinhalese/Buddhist middle class, who disliked alleged minority domination of the civil service, Professions, Banking sector and commercial establishment since the British occupation. His disagreement with the free market policies of the UNP, nationalization of main enterprises, non-aligned foreign policy, the establishment of welfare measures, and equitable distribution of wealth helped him in winning the ‘common man’.

SLFP wins East LG polls

In a remarkable similarity to its victory five decades ago on February 18, 1968, the party succeeded at 2018 Local Government polls in East on February 10. At a by-election held to decide on an MP for two remaining years for Kalmunai seat in the Parliament with the disqualification of Mudaliar M S Kariapper, (who was found guilty of accepting a bribe) a senior politician in the East, SLFP nominated M C Ahamed, a Brother in law of Kariapper to contest it.

M S Kariapper who held the seat since 1947 on different parties was returned four times in the Muslim dominated town [68 per cent Muslims; 28 % Tamils; 2 % Sinhalese]. In 1947 M S Kariapper, Chairman of Kalmunai Town Council won by contesting under UNP. He lost in 1952, but regained it in 1956 with Federal Party. In 1960 March he chose Dahanayake’s LPP and lost with only Daha winning out of 100 seats his party contested. Kariapper lost again in July 1960 under All Ceylon Islamic United Front, his own new party. He was back as an independent candidate in 1965 to beat both his rivals from UNP and FP. With 23,300 voters at the by-election, Kalmunai went to polls in 1968, where Kariappar being deprived of Civic rights for seven years, his relative from SLFP created history by winning with a clear majority.

“Political parties may now and then answer popular ends, they are likely in the course of time and things, to become potent engines, by which cunning, ambitious, and unprincipled men will be enabled to subvert the power of the people and to usurp for themselves the reins of government, destroying afterwards the very engines which have lifted them to unjust dominion.” …George Washington — September 19, 1796

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