A Statue to Commemorate Mrs Bandaranaike.The most illustrious Lady of our time
Posted on December 14th, 2010

Dr Sudath Gunasekara. One time Secretary to Mrs Sirimavo Bandaranaike. 10.12.2010.

 Every one knows that Mrs Sirimavo Bandaranayaike was the first woman Prime Minister in the world. No one can refute that. In that context she was the greatest and the most illustrious Lady ever born in this resplendent Island. I do not think any one will disagree or quarrel with me for this statement. On account of that alone she has made history by creating a world record which any one will not be able to break on any day. It is irreversible for ever. That alone makes her a national heroine who should be remembered and adored by all Sri Lankans for ever irrespective of their politics.

 She became the Prime Minister on 21st July 1960 and carried forward the socio-cultural revolution launched by her husband S.W.R.D in 1956. S.W.R.D’s untimely assassination within three years and five months robed him as well as the country of the historic role he was destined to play for mankind.

 Although the credit for that turning point in the history of our country goes to him it was Sirimavo who really took off the flight that crash landed with SWRD’s untimely death in September 1959. When she took over the reigns of the nation’s leadership in 1960 it was like a wrecked and rudderless ship on high seas. No one thought she could steer it in the correct direction. As D.B. Dhanapala the veteran journalist of our time wrote in his book Among Those Present

“No one thought she will do it, but today no one doubts that she had done it” better than any other man or woman.

 I had the rare privilege of reading the Encyclopedia of Social Science at the University of Cambridge when I was doing my post graduate work in 1982 and you will be surprised to hear that in that book she caries the longest and the most colourful account on any contemporary leader of this country. Then again when once I attended an International Film Festival in Czechoslovakia in May 1991 and I told the audience that I come from Sri Lanka this was how they reacted.

 “Oh you come from the Land of Bandaranaike. How is your Queen Sirimavo Bandaranaike”?

 Remember at that time she was not even the leader of he opposition and she was at home deprived of her civil rights also in 1980 by the JRJ Government. Furthermore she was the only Sri Lankan leader I think who had a wax statue in the famous Madame Tussauds Art Museum in Landon

 I mentioned these three events just to tell my readers how this great Lady was regarded and respected by the outside world.

 It is common knowledge how she spearheaded the social revolution that was set in motion in 1956 and how she put this Island in high heavens in the world map in the years that followed.  Everybody knows how she handled the Non-Aligned Conference in 1976. The 1972 Republican Constitution, Non-aligned Foreign policy, settling the Sino- Indian war in 1962, taming the Marxist giants like NM, Peter Khenaman, Colvin, Lesli, and Dr Wickramasinha (which even SWRD could not do), handling the 1962 coup and the JVP insurrections of 1971, Sirima- Sastri Pact and how she resolved the Kachchative issue were shining jewels in her crown. Above all her dominating personality and character, simplicity, the captivating smile and the devotion to religion, like Viharamaha Devi, which has made her the ideal “ƒ”¹…”Symbol of a Sinhala Buddhist Mahopasika’ of our time, has elevated her above all others, both men and women, in contemporary society.

 She became the Prime minister thrice in this country and dominated and illuminated the political stage for 40 years which no one else had done. She set the rhythm for the women of the world to be followed by all others like Indira Gandhi. Margaret Thatcher, Golda Meyer, Benazi Bhutto, Corazon Akino and Shia Kalida. Thereby she carved a permanent niche for all women the world over.

 She made history irreversible and created a legend unparalleled and thus became a legendary woman not only in Sri Lanka but in the whole world.

 But it is unfortunate and shameful too that we as a nation have not been able to recognize her role and show our gratefulness to this most uncommon and Great Lady even though 10 years have now passed after her death in  December 2000. What a shame for a nation that boasts of a religious legacy which teaches us even to venerate a tree that helped Gautama Buddha to attain Supreme Enlightenment. Lord Buddha himself set this example for others to follow by paying respect to the Bo tree for seven days with Animisa lochana puja.

 Therefore I call upon the government to erect a statue near the Parliament to commemorate this great personality at least now, without further delay. Even Thondaman, an immigrant south Indian labour leader has a statue made for him, in front of the old Parliament, within few months of his death during President Chandrika Kumaratunga’s time.   

 I was happy to listen to the President Rajapaksa the other day when he said that he will carry forward her policies. I hope at least he will erect a statue to remember this Great Mother of Lanka at least before the next death anniversary in the most prominent and appropriate place, in the Kotte Parliamentary complex.

 She is a Daughter of Lanka who should be honoured not only at the Parliament Complex but also in every village and town. As for me I regard her as the greatest Lady this country has ever produced because for me she is simply a Legend. Most women in this world shine on the achievements of their husbands or their children. But Sirimavo made history on her own achievements.

I met her for the first time as the Prime Minister when I was only the Deputy Director of Small Industries in 1976. I organized the Handicrafts Exhibition for the 1976 Non-Aligned Conference and ever since I have had a very intimate relationship with her. Then in 1994 when I was Secretary to the Ministry of Technical education, she called me home and appointed me as her Secretary. That is how she remembered people.

 I am not a political fanatic as many people are in this country. But going by the Buddha’s noble word we must respect the one who is respect worthy, “ƒ”¹…”Pujaca Pujaniyanam’ irrespective of their political colour, ethnicity or ideology.

 As I wrote in 1996 in the supplement issued on her 80th birth day, by the Ceylon Daily News (April 17th)

 “Chiselled on granite and embossed with golden letters the name of Sirimavo Bandaranaike will remain immortal as the most illustrious and celebrated daughter of mother Lanka as long as the sun and the moon shall last”.

 It is a tragedy that the whole nation has failed in its onerous duty by this great personality up to date. What an ungrateful bunch of people we are to have completely forgotten the mother of the Party and the mother of the Nation as well? Above all the SLFP and all the politicians who enjoy the plums of political power gained under that banner should be ashamed for not doing their duty by this Great Lady for whom they owe so much for all what they enjoy today. Most of these men and women who are in power would have been unheard and unseen if not for her sacrifices.

 If she did not consent to lead the party in 1960 after it had been ruined by people like Dahanayaka there would not have been a SLFP at all for these people to enjoy the luxuries of political office. It is true that it was SWRD with his astute and unsurpassed statesmanship, who founded the SLFP and brought it to power in 1956 under the banner of the MEP. But there would not have been a SLFP today if not for Mrs Bandaranaike who resurrected it in 1960 from the grave and built it up for forty long years under her able, magnetic and charismatic leadership, having lost everything including even her civil rights for seven years.

8 Responses to “A Statue to Commemorate Mrs Bandaranaike.The most illustrious Lady of our time”

  1. M.S.MUdali Says:

    But the great woman lost her rights under the DHARMISHTTA rule.

    Every woman and man must be proud of her for the attempts and accomplishements to bring peace in the country.

  2. Sajith Says:

    There were long queues for bread and everything. People were starving during her rule. They are basmati rice and entertained foreigners when the country was starving. Not to mention 1971 and standardisation. Some people have short memories.

  3. TERRENCE DE SILVA Says:

    MSMUdali & Sajith – I TOTALLY AGREE WITH YOU – ITS FOR THE PEOPLE AND ITS MASSES TO REMEMBER AND SHOW ITS GRATITUDE BY NOT ERECTING A STATUE TO HAVE THE CROWS DEPOSIT THEIR UNKIND DROPPINGS & NOT FOR CERTAIN ELITE TO REMEMBERAFTER ALL THESE YEARS THE PERSONAL FAVOURS GANTED ONLY TO THEM.

    I CERTAINLY REMEMBER THE DAYS OF FORCED MANIOC (MANOKKA) & BATTALA AND THE LONG QUEUES IN THE SUN & RAIN FOR STAPLE FOOD ITEMS, THE COUPON REDDI DAYS, WITH NO IMPORTS, NO APPLES & GRAPES FREELY AVAILABLE. THE FAVOURED & THE ELITE HAVE VERY SHORT MEMORIES. AGREED 1ST WORLD’S WOMAN PRIME MINISTER – MAY SHE REST IN PEACE!

  4. jayt Says:

    She had more bad than good. If she had less bad and more good, then she could have received excellent points for being proud of Sinhalese heritage, but what went wrong with her she promoted dictatorship under the influence of some local and foreign groups making foundation for criminal politics and division of Sinhalese.

  5. M.S.MUdali Says:

    SAJITH:
    I saw the queues in Jaffna and never see them in my Vavuniya. Standardization was good for the Tamils except Jaffna. Standerdization affected Sinhala students in Colombo, Matara and Kandy also. But Tamil racist politicians like Amirthalingam cried that it was brought in against the Tamils. Jaffna problem is not Tamil problem!

    But she allowed favoritism which caused many mess in public administration.

    IMF refused loans to SLFP regime at that time and no rain for more than 4 years. Those caused many food problems but Jaffna Chilli farmers bagged millions. That is why Hector Kobbekaduwa got more votes in Jaffna.

    Now the same forces work again Rajapasa too.

  6. Sajith Says:

    Don’t be foolish Mudali. Can a human function without its head? Standardisation very badly affected Jaffna students and their parents, brothers, sisters. Most educated LTTE supporters at that time were affected by it. No standardisation no war. No Sirima no war. I will never forgive her for keeping me in the long queue for bread when she and her family ate basmati rice. Curse them. They ruined the country. Father, mother, son, daughter, sons in law and now grandson. All greedy, immoral, power hungry people. Hora-golla perfectly matches them. Horagonnu.

  7. ranjit Says:

    I surely agree with Sajith’s last comment.She maybe a good lady for DR.Sudath because he was the secretary and wouldnt have waited in queues like us to buy bread or anything. She did more bad things than good things but she is not something special to erect statues in every village and town as you says.Country have so much things to do not erecting statues of politicos. Because of Bandaranayakas we are suffereing today and all this divisions and mistrust is beacuse of them. Let’s talk about something good for the country rather than talking good about any individual.All polticians are same in this whole world rarely you get a good one.

  8. M.S.MUdali Says:

    The story of the standardization affacted less than 100 or 200 students in Jaffna but more than 500 Tamil students benefitted from the same thing from the areas outside of Jaffna district.

    Why did not you mention the establishment of the University of Jaffna by the same SiriMavo?

    Tamils outside of Jaffna never forgive Jaffna selfish morons for creating useless war of 30 years.

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