Only “Back to Senanaiksm” can prevent UNP marching to ‘Last post’ at its 75th mile post on road to Sirikotha
The wealthy Attygalle sisters of Madapatha married DS Senanayake’s brother, Sir John Kotalawale’s father and JR Jayewardene’s uncle whose fortunes were closely interwoven with the fortunes of the Attygalla fortune; their subsequent entrance to the political arena; their mutual admiration of and irritation with one another; resolving conflicts by themselves or through kinsfolk and children they dominated politics of the country for over seven decades.
The emergence of Senanayakes, Kotalawalas and Jayewardenes in Sri Lankan Politics, the source that initially financed their activities, and also the concealed hostility, enmity and rivalry for preeminence, and the prompt reconciliation among themselves, the three families formed and gave strength to the upper crust of the United National Party (UNP) hierarchy for many decades commencing early 20th Century and reaching its peak in 1952, to endure up to the end of last century.
‘Speaking at the foundation stone laying ceremony for a new hospital in Mahiyangana, the Prime Minister [Dudley Senanayake] said, “MD Banda said 70% of people from Bintenne are his relatives, but I would say all the people in Bintenne are my relatives….”
"Senanayake was the founder leader of the UNP, an alliance of the Ceylon National Congress (CNC), the Sinhala Maha Sabha and the Muslim League. Senanayake, the man with foresight sought to retain the Tamils and Muslims under one flag.mortgaging his house"
“My great-grandfather [Don Bartholomeus] lived in Mahiyangana.” Continuing he declared, “ … and because of this my father…took steps to restore Mahiyangana Dagoba…”’-The Daily Mirror - March 23, 1968
Senanayake family roots dates back to the Anuradhapura era in AD 253-266. Folklore says, the King sent a delegation from Mahiyangana with a Bo sapling to be planted at Attanagalle. The delegation on their way placed the sapling at a selected spot and retired for the night. The next morning, they found that the sapling had taken root, hence the name “Bodhi-tale”, place where the Bo sapling took root, which became “Bothale.”
One of DS Senanayake’s old teachers at S.Thomas’ College, wrote a congratulatory note to his pupil who took oaths as the Minister of Agriculture in the State Council in the1930s. The minister replied his former master, the late Rev. J. S. H. Edirisinghe, saying, “…if that pupil had learnt a tenth of all the master had laboured to knock into his head, he should today be a better minister”. Perhaps Rev. Edirisinghe had a unique way of ‘knocking things into the head’ of his pupil, who later became the first Prime Minister of Independent Ceylon. F R and D S Senanayake, were present at the right moment in history. End of WW II and end of Indian Independence struggle helped achieving Independence.
FR’s and DS’s philanthropy had no bounds. All his inheritance from his parents he spent in the service of the people. The YMBA premises in Borella were purchased by FR with the money raised by mortgaging his house. Another remarkable characteristic of Senanakes was that they worked paying no heed to creed, caste, community or race. Senanayakes with their keen sense of patriotism organised prohibition meetings throughout the country to save the people from the evils of liquor. FR also launched a journal called Amadyapa Mithraya, meaning friend of the teetotaler.
FR went on a pilgrimage to Buddha Gaya in December 1925 accompanied by his wife and family and his brother DS. There he took ill and passed away at the age of 42 years.
DS reaped the result of circumstances and the enormous endeavours of many who preceded him. Senanayake was the founder leader of the UNP, an alliance of the Ceylon National Congress (CNC), the Sinhala Maha Sabha and the Muslim League. Senanayake, the man with foresight sought to retain the Tamils and Muslims under one flag. His assessment was based purely on policy matters: he opposed with its aim of achieving full freedom from the British Empire, preferring Dominion status; he disagreed with the proposals of Congress favouring Swabhasha instead of English; and opening doors of CNC for Communist members. These disagreements motivated him to form a political party free from religious and racial divisions. DS stated publicly his wish to retire from Congress insisting that,
‘…they ought to speak for the whole country rather than a party functioning for political power of a section…’ - Excerpt from letter of resignation dated 22/12/1943.
Six years later on December 29, 1949, JR Jayewardene, moved a resolution at Kandy sessions of Congress, ‘…that the CNC … should now be dissolved’—Ceylon Daily News - 30/5/1949
By early 1946, DS was thinking of forming a new political movement that would stand for national harmony and of moderate views, an organisation acceptable to the minorities. Most of the Congress members and almost all in the State Council’s government associates accepted his invitation leading to the birth of UNP on September 6, 1946.
How they fared in Politics
Of all the Heads of State who guided Sri Lanka’s destinies, Kotalawala made the least impact on Sri Lankan history. It has fell on three heads irreversibly to change the course of nation’s history, and they were D S Senanayake, Bandaranaike and JR Jayawardene. For good or for bad, JR altered the economic landscape decisively, compelling everyone including the left and socialists to merely continue with the economic model handed down to them by him, and fattening on it. JR’s bequest to nation was not the economic model but a new Constitution. Leaders, who when in opposition would blame and fight against the Executive Presidency, being elected they had enjoyed the privileges it granted.
"A moderate, soft-spoken, patriotic young leadership is what the beleaguered party requires for the upliftment of the moral of membership and for its survival"
Ranks backing Sajith Premadasa presented a formidable opposition to Ranil Wickremesinghe faction since the November 2019 Presidential election which the party fared poorly. Ranil who commands a majority in the decision-making Working Committee will never give in to rebels. Only with the emergence of a new leader with the blessing of clergy and rank and file can rescue the grand old party from the present disastrous situation.
A moderate, soft-spoken, patriotic young leadership is what the beleaguered party requires for the upliftment of the moral of membership and for its survival. Someone who can boast of loyalty to the party, and not to individuals; one who can unite or invite dissents back to the fold; one who has won their hearts by maintaining neutrality during the conflict.
This article contained extracts from writer’s manuscript titled, “Attygalle Murder and Kotalawale ‘h.o.m.i.c.i.d.e’-1907” -- and Sub-titled, ‘Marriages of Kotalawale, Jayewardene and Senanayake to wealthy Attygalle sisters instituted UNP of Sri Lanka-’