MEP revolution of 1956 and its custodians today
Posted on September 8th, 2022

Courtesy The Daily News

Prime Minister Dinesh Gunawardena engaged in religious observances at the sacred Katharagama Kiri Vehera.

Prime Minister Dinesh Gunawardena engaged in religious observances at the sacred Katharagama Kiri Vehera.

In the year the 66th anniversary of the political and social revolution ushered in by the historic victory of the Mahajana Eksath Peramuna (MEP) Government in 1956 is commemorated, some of the alliance partners have disintegrated and some new parties of fragmented groups have emerged. In this sad state of affairs where the main party of the MEP alliance, the Sri Lanka Freedom Party (SLFP) is fragmented into groups and scattered all over the political divide, one salient factor is the torch-bearer of the alliance, the MEP succeeded in holding the traditional adhishtana pooja and sathyakriya to bless the country and the people for the 28th consequent year at the sacred Katharagama Kiri Vehera earlier this week.

The 56’ anniversary is an occasion to recall the transformations brought about by the 1956 socio-political revolution and the achievements of the Government formed after the landslide victory of MEP in February 1956 General Elections. The S.W.R.D. Bandaranaike-led Government, in which the leader of former Viplavakari Sama Samaja Party (VLSSP) Philip Gunawardena played a major role, has been labeled by impartial commentators as the first Government to implement people-friendly policies. The main thrust of the 1956 victory was the result of the people’s power generated by the ‘Pancha Maha Balavegaya’ that comprised Sangha, Veda, Guru, Govi and Kamkaru, the five main segments of the society formed as a political force to topple the then West-inclined Government. The 1956 MEP Government represented the 2500 old religious and cultural heritage of Sri Lanka and brought in a cultural revolution in which indigenous values of the society were given the deserving recognition and the rightful share in governance.

The flag-bearer of the 1956 victory, the SLFP, is fragmented today and two offshoots announced establishment of new parties – one led by stalwarts Prof. G. L. Peiris and Dullas Alahapperuma and the other by former party leader Chandrika Bandaranaike Kumaratunga and Kumara Welgama–sadly, on the occasion of the SLFP anniversary last week.

Addressing the MEP cadres gathered at the adhishtana pooja and sathyakriya, party leader and Prime Minister Dinesh Gunawardena gave a solemn pledge to protect the unitary state, sovereignty and territorial integrity of the country, which was safeguarded by our forefathers for several centuries.

The pledge delivered by the Prime Minister to the vast gathering further promised to safeguard the Buddhism, the teachings of the Buddha and the Mahasangha as it was protected by the ancestors for over 2500 years and to protect environment, flora and fauna, forest and water resources and to make the country self-sufficient. They also pledged to protect the women and children, provide skills to the youth to strengthen them to reach their rightful place.

He said that the challenge for the Government would be to solve the current economic problems practically, going beyond the textbook theories. The leader of the MEP said that the opinion of the party is that a guarantee should be provided to the low-income groups in the country regarding the provision of essential food items. He stated that an operation consisting of good management principles was essential to solve the problems faced by other communities.

Prime Minister Dinesh Gunawardena said the MEP expected the process of drafting a new constitution and the Party was committed to protecting the mandate given to the Government by the people. He said that the MEP expected all those who were committed to the people’s mandate to give priority to the same. The Prime Minister stated his policy of participatory democracy in which more powers will be devolved to the Parliament and Local Government bodies by establishing a mixed system of elections of representatives in a constitutional amendment.

He said that directing the unemployed school leavers to practical vocational careers would be an additional challenge and that practical measures should be adopted moving away from traditional theories. He stressed that all efforts should be made to empower these youth as they are the future of the country and that the Pradeshiya Sabhas should also be utilized for this purpose. He said that in order to rebuild the economy, meet the rural demand and increase production from the local level upwards there is a need to work pragmatically with commitment and determination.

Speaking at the Adhishtana Poojawa and Satyakriya Ven. Kobawaka Dhamminda Thera, the incumbent of the Kiriwehera Rajamaha Vihara, stated that Prime Minister Dinesh Gunawardena has done a great service to the country for a long time, especially as the Leader of Mahajana Eksath Peramuna.

I pray that you, as the second citizen of the country, will have the strength to build this country as the most suitable person to hold the position of Prime Minister and we highly appreciate your decision to accept this great burden at this difficult time with the commitment and determination to uplift the country,” he said.

Ven. Kapugama Saranatissa Thera, Kataragama Abhinavaramadhipati who delivered a sermon at the adishtanapooja, said, The special quality we have seen from Dinesh Gunawardena is the sacrifice he makes by supporting the existing Government and the country whenever there is a disaster in the country and the people irrespective of the fact he is in the ruling party or in the Opposition. It is because of his love for the nation and the people that he makes such sacrifices for the sake of the country, regardless of race, religion and party.”

I think this quality came to him from his father Philip Gunawardena. Philip Gunawardena made great sacrifices for the nation and for the freedom of this country. Gunawardena’s generation is such a generation. At a time when this country is in a great disaster and no one is coming forward to take over the country, you came forward and took over a fire that was lit from all four corners,” he said.

Those who were present included, Ven. Omare Kassapa Thera, Anunayaka of Sri Rohana Parshwa of Shyamopali Maha Nikaya, Ven. Heelle Gnananda Thera Incumbent of the Vadasitikanda Rajamaha Vihara, Ven. Murutthettuve Ananda Thera Incumbent of Narahenpita Abhayarama, Ven. Kotahene Narada Thera Incumbent of Kotte Naga Vihara, Ven. KokawalaKosala Thera Incumbent of Sankhapala Raja MahaViharaya, Ven. Thangalle Gotama Thera, Ven. Malewana Dharmavijaya Thera, Ven. Madawalathanne Jinarathane Thera, Ven. Wagegoda Sheelananda Thera.

The other dignitaries including MEP General Secretary Tissa Yapa Jayawardena, Vice President Member of Parliament Sisira Jayakodi, Deputy Secretary Member of Parliament Yadamini Gunawardena, Minister Nimal Siripala de Silva, Deputy Speaker Ajith Rajapakshe, Members of Parliament Chamal Rajapaksa, Wimalaweera Dissanayake, Vijitha Berugoda, Shashindra Rajapaksa, Anupa Pasqual, Chamara Sampath and Rohana Dissanayake were present on this occasion.

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