C. P. DE SILVA AND DUDLEYMarch 24, 2014, 12:00 pm
Namel Weeramuni, Attorney-at-Law, one time Deputy Legal Draftsman and a Solicitor, who had three Law firms in London and was a gentleman par-excellence, told me a very, very interesting story about CP de Silva and Dudley Senanayake. This story was confirmed by R. Jayapriya De Silva, Attorney-at-Law and a nephew of CP De Silva
CP de Silva, who should have taken oaths as the Prime Minister of this country after the death of Bandaranaike, was prevented from doing so, as he was in the UK being treated for poisoning. The powers behind the throne and the feudal hierarchy of the SLFP would have been very pleased that he was dying in the UK having consumed a glass of milk, originally handed over to Bandaranaike. This was on the 24th of August 1959, a month and two days before Bandaranaike was shot.
After the demise of Bandaranaike, the SLFP hierarchy met Sir Oliver Goonetillake. Sir Oliver was considered a maestro in Machiavellian machinations, which suited the political climate of Sri Lanka. CP De Silva, a mathematician and the man trusted most by Bandaranaike appointed CP as the Leader of the House and he acted as Prime Minister. Though he was convalescing in hospital, he had consented to lead the party and be the Prime Minister but when the group met Sir Oliver he quite casually asked them ‘Do You want to appoint a ‘Haliya’ as the Prime Minister." All those who met Sri Oliver, including the Muslims endorsed the statement made by Sir Oliver, and one of the most eminent and most suitable men to lead the SLFP was kicked out as others, who were less learned, less educated, less popular and corrupt, felt that they were more superior than CP, only because they considered themselves of a higher caste and CP belonged to a low caste. Bandaranaike, who came to power in order to oust the cast hegemony of the UNP and won because the oppressed classes thought of voting out the UNP. UNP stalwarts considered themselves superior mainly because of their notion of superiority hung on a thin thread called the caste system in Sri Lanka.
Mrs. Bandaranaike, who revolted against the Paddy Lands Act and who detested Philip Gunawardena for his socialist ideas, went against her kitchen politics and embraced the Samasamajist and the Communist and formed a coalition, which CP De Silva and others disliked. Yet, CP de Silva remained and acted on behalf of Mrs. Bandaranaike as the Acting Prime Minister. He was virtually the Prime Minister as Mrs. Bandaranaike was in the Senate. The conservative sources aligned themselves to oust the coalition government which was formed in 1964. JR Jayawardene, only second to Sir Oliver indulging in Machiavellian state craft, started negotiating with CP De Silva to vote against the press bill. Though there were discussions, nothing was being finalized. One day, CP De Silva, knowing very well the political notoriety of JRJ, asked JR Jayawardene "if I do crossover, what position would I get. Under the present set up, I am the Acting Prime Minister. By crossing over surely, you will not appoint me as the Prime Minister?" JR, who had a running battle with Dudley Senanayake, wanted to kill two birds with one stone, Sirimavo Bandaranaike and Dudley Senanayake, promptly agreed to make him the Prime Minister of the country, in the event they were able to form a Government. When JR reported this matter to Dudley, Dudley was furious. He asked JR, as told to me by Rukman Senanayake, "how did you get the authority to give an undertaking on behalf of the party, when I am still the leader of the UNP"? To make a long story short, the coalition was defeated in Parliament and Mrs. Bandaranaike had to call for elections. When Dudley Senanayake’s government came to power after a strenuous battle, where leading monks like Devamottawe Amarawansa and Meetiyagoda Gunarante both were from non-Goigama Amarapura Nikaya were the leading speakers on the UNP platform. When it was clear that the coalition (Hath Havula) of the UNP led by Dudley Senanayake could form a government and before the Governor General called Dudley Senanayake to form a government, CP de Silva got a call from Dudley Senanayake. Dudley had told CP, as he remembered the undertaking given by JR and as Dudley had not rescinded the promise, Dudley without asking anyone lifted the receiver and had spoken to CP. He has said "as there was an undertaking given by J. R. Jayawardene that in the event we form a government, you could become the Prime Minister of that Government, it is my duty to offer you the Premiership of the newly formed coalition and I and my party will give our unstinted support for your new government." CP de Silva, another great man, politely declined the offer made by Dudley Senanayake and said "Sir, people have voted for you and their expectation is for you to become the Prime Minister of this country for the fourth time. It will be a great honour for me to work under you. What the SLFP denied me when I was the rightful heir, you have offered to me, where I have no right to accept it, except for the promise given by JR. We will work together and make this country a haven for everybody."
Poisoning of C.P.De Silva
According to Jayapriya De Silva, a nephew of CP De Silva, no one knew why a glass of milk was brought and placed in the place where Bandaranaike sat, as the head of the Cabinet, at the Cabinet meeting. No one knew who was instrumental in bringing the glass of milk and why CP De Silva, who was the deputy, drank the glass of milk. After consuming the glass, CP felt the urge to go to the toilet. It was only after a considerable length of time, that the others discovered him fallen in the toilet. Bandaranaike made arrangements to send him to London, he was personally present at the Ratmalana Airport and was joking that CP would meet an array of beauties in London. A month and two days later Bandaranaike was shot dead. No one knows as to why there was no inquiry on the attempt at poisoning Bandaranaike and if there was an inquiry on the whole conspiracy behind the killing of Bandaranaike would have got exposed. Bandaranaike would have escaped the fatal shot fired by Somarama. But the fate of this country bequeathed that all those who were responsible or knew who was responsible for the attempt at poisoning the deputy leader of the SLFP, were not even mentioned even in a Kelapaththra or a kavi kole. No one was interested in finding the truth, as the victim was a ‘leader of the Halagama caste’.
Even today, you could see three photographs of three great people in the humble homes of the farmers of Polonnaruwa. They are the photographs of DS and Dudley Senanayake and C.P. de Silva, whom people still call Minneriya Deiyyo.
Dudley honoured his word and believed that others would always speak the truth to him whether they were politicians or bureaucrats. The officials knew the weakness of Dudley and misled him and said his purported green revolution was a tremendous success. Dudley believed his officials. At that time, one of the biggest attractions in the SLFP stage was comedian L. M. Perera who first acted in "Surathalee" and became a sensation. His main theme was the green revolution of Dudley He said when he turned on his ‘Echo’ radio to observe pansil he got nearly drowned as the Mahaweli waters came through the radio channel. When he switched off and switched on the radio after few minutes he got immersed in a bag full of paddy as ‘Dudley Paddy’ from the ‘Green Revolution’ was coming through the radio waves. Hinting how the officials used the Radio to propagate the green revolution based on false statistics. Mr. BJ Fernado who was one of the most respected Senior Lawyers told this story to one of his juniors who is now the Additional Solicitor General, Suhada Gamlath P.C . Dudley has summoned a few of his confidants to discuss the 1970 elections. He has said and admitted that ‘He and his government has been misled by the bureaucrats and the green revolution and the ‘Govi Hamudawa’ was a total failure and the Dudley’s Government was facing a crushing electoral defeat. JR Jayewardene who was in the inner circle said that he could overturn the election if he was given the chance to handle it.’ Dudley according to BJ Fernando had promptly replied, "I would rather expect a democratic defeat than an illusory victory by other means than the democratic process."
Present generation and Dudley Senanayake
There was a quiz’ show, organized by one of the premier television stations. A Schoolboy from a prominent boys’ school in Colombo came to the podium. The moderator told him that he would be given a topic and should speak for one minute on the subject. The moderator said you should speak about Dudley Senanayake for one minute. The boy said, "Dudley was a great Marxist politician and his son was D. S. Senanayake." Namel Weeramuni, who listened to the programme, said he was shocked beyond belief.
Last Updated Feb 27 2017 | 10:56 pm