Lanka Sama Samaja Party, 73 not out

The Lanka Sama Samaja Party, the first Lankan political party was founded on December 18, 1935, by Philip Gunawardena, Dr. N. M. Perera, Dr. Colvin R. de Silva, Leslie Gunawardena, Dr. S. A. Wickrekmasinghe and Edmond Samarakkody, united in their staunch opposition to the British colonial administration.

They were joined by Doric de Souza, Bernard de Soysa, S. C. C. Antonipillai, V. Karalasingham, Selina Perera, Vivienne Gunawardena, P. Kandiah, A. Vaidialingham, Peter Keuneman, Hector Abayawardena, Bala Tampo, N. Sanmugathasan and Osmand Jayaratne, among others. There were others like William de Silva, T. B. Subasinghe and some others who began their political life in the LSSP, moved to other political parties and made significant contributions.

Before the LSSP was founded, Dr. S. A. Wickremasinghe contested the Morawaka seat and represented it in the State Council in 1931. He again gained the same seat in the second State Council in 1936. Philip Gunawardena and Dr. N. M. Perera represented the Avissawella and Ruwanwella seats respectively. Leslie Gunawardena lost to Sir Susantha de Fonseka at Panadura.

The opponent to Dr. N. M. Perera was the first woman elected to the second State Council, Mrs. Adline Molamure, the daughter of John Middeniya. She was elected unopposed to the Ruwanwella seat in 1931. From February 22, 1936 onwards, Dr. N. M. Perera represented Ruwanwella and Yatiyantota seats in turn without a break until he lost in 1977, when the United National Party led by J. R. Jayewardena won the general election with a five sixth majority in the Parliament, without leaving even a seat to the LSSP.

The founders of this party were political giants in the entire modern history of this country. They were extraordinary in stature and intellect. They were virtually born with the ethic of disciplined hard work and abundance of selfless generosity. Their Left movement was joined by personalities of high quality during the Second World War as well as in the last phase of colonial rule.

It was philip Gunawardena who suggested the name of Dr. Colvin R. de Silva as the president of the party, Vernon Gunasekera was made the secretary of the party. The colour red was made its colour.

After some time in 1939 some members of the party were expelled from the party on differences of opinion. They were, a founder of the party, Dr. S. A. Wickremasinghe, M. G. Mendis , a co-secretary of the Party and trade union leader, K. Ramanathan , the editor of the party journal, Ariyawansa Gunasekera, A. Waidyalingam and Ven. Udakendawela Saranankara Thera. They were followed by some others who formed an organization calltd Socialist Circle. In 1943 it was renamed the Communist Party of Sri Lanka.

When the Second World War commenced, the Board of Ministers in Sri Lanka decided to extend its support to the British. The LSSP condemned the war as an imperial struggle and opposed it for imposing burdens on the people by supporting the war. They even organized strikes in the plantation sector. The planters requested the government to take stern action against LSSP leaders. As a result the colonial government took immediate action and arrested Dr. N. M. Perera and Philip Gunawardena on June 18, 1940. Some time earlier Edmond Samarakkody was arrested. The LSSP was banned and its press was also sealed. After another month some other members of the party, such as Reggie Perera and Selina Perera, were arrested. The remaining LSSPers continued with ensuring the progress of the party despite any obstacles, printed their party journal ‘Samasamajaya’ in a secret place and distributed it. Henry Peiris was its editors at the time.

At this juncture, all the LSSP leaders who were arrested broke Bogambara jail and fled to India. It is proper to state here that Indika, the eldest son was born to Philip and Kusuma in India. These abscondents formed the Bolshevik Leninist Party of India, Ceylon and Burma and later formed another party called ‘Bolshevik Leninist Party of India’.

After all these LSSP abscondents in India were arrested and brought back to this country, Dr. N. M. Perera and Philip Gunawardena were sentenced to six months’ rigorous imprisonment for breaking jail. The others were released and the proscription on the party was lifted.

However, a group led by Doric de Souza which was in the country when Dr. N. M. Perera and others were absconding in India, formed the Bolshevik Leninist Party. In this situation there arose two factions in the LSSP. Philip Gunawardena said in public that Doric de Souza was a police spy. When some personalities attempted to unify the two factions, the Doric de Souza faction laid down a condition that Philip Gunawardena should apologize in public for accusations he made that Doric De Souza was a police spy. It was not responded to by Philip Gunawardena and the division in the party aggravated.

The LSSP and the Bolshevik Leninist Party contested the general election held in 1947 separately under a no-contest pact between them. At this election the UNP put forward 98 candidates, LSSP 28, CP 13 and the Bolshevik Party 10 and the Tamil Congress also contested some seats in the Northern and Eastern Provinces. The Ceylon Indian Congress contested in the plantations. There was a large number of independents in the fray.

Of the 95 seats, the UNP won 42 seats. The LSSP won 10 seats, the BLP won five seats and the CP won three seats. Altogether the Leftists gained 18 seats becoming the leading opposition. Dr. N. M. Perera of the LSSP became the Leader of the Opposition in Parliament.

Seventy three long years have elapsed from the day these political giants engaged in their activities, originating with the Suriyamal Movement, a few years before the commencement of the Second World War. Philip Gunawardena, Dr. N. M. Perera and Dr. Colvin R. de Silva and a few others of their calibre were exemplary personalities in the legislature. They easily outperformed every one else in substance and in show.

They spearheaded the working class movement. They sustained a strong opposition in Parliament. However, the leadership of the LSSP and the CP is no more. They were not power- crazy. They did everything on principles. They failed to win political advantages on their own terms.

The Mahajana Eksath Peramuna under the leadership of S. W. R. D. Bandaranaike in 1956 never would have come to power without the support of the LSSP and CP. In 1970 Mrs. Sirima Bandaranaike would never have come to power without the support of these two parties. In 1994 Mrs. Chandrika Bandaranaike Kumaratunge also would have not come to power without the support of these two parties. In 1977 the UNP would have not come to power with such a majority if Mrs. Bandaranaike had contested the elections with a no-contest pact with these two parties. Mahinda Rajapaksa came to power in 2005 with the assistance of the leftists, particularly the Janatha Vimukthi Peramuna.

Furthermore, if the LSSP and the CP had been with the MEP government, the plotters would not have been able to gun down Mr. Bandaranaike and W. Dahanayake would have never been the caretaker Prime Minister and the history of the country would have taken a different course altogether.

www island.lk

Copyright©Upali Newspapers Limited.

Hosted by


Upali Newspapers Limited, 223, Bloemendhal Road, Colombo 13, Sri Lanka, Tel +940112497500