- Sinhalese did not object to making Ceylon a Federal State as propounded by Bandaranaike but Tamils without exception opposed Federalism and supported a Unitary State
- Bandaranaike declared that ‘the majority of us feel that in view of the local conditions, particularly racial differences, the most satisfactory method to minimise and gradually remove such differences was a Federal System of Government.
- Bandaranaike said that in a Federal Government, each unit had complete power over itself yet they could stand united and had one or two assemblies to discuss matters affecting the whole country.
- Bandaranaike...in 1925 and formed a political party, named the Progressive National Party and advocated a Federal State in preference to a Unitary One.
S.W.R.D Bandaranaike as Prime Minister enacted the Sinhala Only Policy and declared in Parliament “We will finally emerge stronger, more mindful and truly progressive people than we have been hitherto”.
However, the Sinhala Only policy failed to unite the people but it had brought disunity, discord and pushed the Pearl of Asia into deep mire, drenched with thunderstorms and spread a flood of blood, throughout the country.
Bandaranaike the most constructive politician.
Though Bandaranaike allowed the country by his Sinhala Only Policy to soak in blood, he was the most constructive politician Sri Lanka has ever produced. During the period of the State Council, he attempted to legislate many progressive and constructive Bills. One of them was the Regional Councils Bill. That Bill was modified to give the Northern and Eastern Provinces Regional Councils.
Thus, the Bandaranaike-Chelvanayagam Pact was signed by the two leaders on 25.07.1957, granting among other matters, Regional Councils for the Northern and Eastern Provinces.
Opposition to the Bandaranaike-Chelvanayagam Pact was growing in the South. J.R. Jayewardene organised Kandy March in protest of the pact.
The procession to Kandy was stopped at Imbulgoda by the then Member of the Gampaha Electorate S.D. Bandaranayake.
Prophesy of Bandaranaike
Some of the politically motivated Buddhist Monks too were forcing the Prime Minister to abandon the Pact. In the presence of those Buddhist Monks the Prime Minister announced unilaterally the abrogation of the Pact. On that occasion, the Prime Minister was reported to have said prophetically to the Buddhist Monks,
“If you are against the Pact, I would certainly tear it up but it will endanger the future of the country, you have to think about it”.
The politically motivated Buddhist Monks never appreciated or understood the seriousness, effect of the prophetic statement of Prime Minister Bandaranaike.
Bandaranaike was a brilliant student of Christ College, Oxford. He returned to the Island in 1925 and formed a political party, named the Progressive National Party and advocated a Federal State in preference to a Unitary One.
His erstwhile friend, Dr. T. James Rutnam was the General Secretary of the Progressive National Party. He opposed the concept and wrote several articles in support of Unitary State.
Bandaranaike’s Federal formula and the Tamils’ opposition.
The Sinhalese did not object to making Ceylon a Federal State as propounded by Bandaranaike but the Tamils without exception opposed the federalism and supported a Unitary State
Bandaranaike declared that ‘the majority of us feel that in view of the local conditions, particularly racial differences, the most satisfactory method to minimise and gradually remove such differences was a Federal System of Government. Switzerland tended national unity. We feel that the present arrangement of nine provinces should remain and be the basis of the Federal System’.
Bandaranaike said that in a Federal Government, each unit had complete power over itself yet they could stand united and have one or two assemblies to discuss matters affecting the whole country. All self-governing dominions, Australia, South Africa and Canada had the same system. Switzerland was a small country but three races lived there, the French, Germans and Italians and the Federal form of Government was very successful in that country.
Thus, Switzerland afforded a better example for Ceylon.
Bandaranaike said that he opposed a Unitary Constitution for Ceylon and put forward the Federal Constitution as it was more suitable for conditions prevailing in Ceylon.
Languages in the Centre and Federal Units
He observed that it was easy at the Federal Centre to declare what languages should be the official languages. It was really in keeping with the federal form of Government where each unit could use one language for its work but the Federal Centre could use more than one language. Bandaranaike described the difficulties that could arise under a centralised system of Government.
He said that he knew no part of the world, where a Government was carried on under such conflicting circumstances as would be experienced in Ceylon.
Those would be the troubles if a centralised form of Government was introduced into countries with large communal differences.
A thousand and one objections
Thus, at the meeting held in Jaffna on 17.07.1926, presided by Dr. Isaac Thyambyah, Bandaranaike professed that:
“A thousand and one objections could be raised against the system but when the objections are dissipated, I am convinced that some form of Federal Government be the only solution”.
The present Government led by President Maithripala Sirisena and Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe is earnestly taking steps to make a New Constitution.
It is reliably believed that the President desires to fulfil the prophetic dream of Bandaranaike ‘that some form of Federal Government be the only answer to meet the demands of the Tamils.
Would there be a hope of spring that President Maithripala Sirisena could translate the Federal dream of Bandaranaike into action as the President himself fits to the prophetic poem of Rudyard Kipling titled If-:
If you can keep your head when all about you,
Are losing theirs and blaming it on you,
If you can trust yourself when all men doubt you,
But make allowance for their doubting too;
If you can wait and not be tired by waiting,
Or being lied about, don’t deal in lies,
Or being hated, don’t give way to hating,
And yet don’t look too good, nor talk too wise:
If you can dream—and not make dreams your master;
If you can think—and not make thoughts your aim;
If you can meet with Triumph and Disaster
And treat those two impostors just the same;
If you can bear to hear the truth you’ve spoken
Twisted by knaves to make a trap for fools,
Or watch the things you gave your life to, broken,
And stoop and build ’em up with worn-out tools:
If you can make one heap of all your winnings
And risk it on one turn of pitch-and-toss,
And lose, and start again at your beginnings
And never breathe a word about your loss;
If you can force your heart and nerve and sinew
To serve your turn long after they are gone,
And so hold on when there is nothing in you
Except the Will which says to them: ‘Hold on!’
If you can talk with crowds and keep your virtue,
Or walk with Kings—nor lose the common touch,
If neither foes nor loving friends can hurt you,
If all men count with you, but none too much;
If you can fill the unforgiving minute
With sixty seconds’ worth of distance run,
Yours is the Earth and everything that’s in it,
And—which is more—you’ll be a Man, my son!