POPULATION

Entire population of indian origin upcountry tamil people is currently estimated as 1.5 millian. out of this .75 millian people live outside tea estates and elswhere in the country.only 50% of the people live and work at tea estates and this containes of 3800 families.in 1950 ,six decades ago 90% of above population lived and dependants of tea estates . because of lower wage and poor living conditions people are try to find works outside tea estats and distracted from tea industry.if this tendancy continues in for another five decades there going to be hardley any single workers family going to be left inside in a tea estate.

a tea estate with dwelings

a tea estate with dwelings

it is so cold

it is so cold
there is no way out

sun set pictures near galle

sun set pictures near galle

perspective

perspective
imbulpitiya tea estate near nawalapitiya from the distance

new developments

new developments
after 1972when the parliament passed land ceiling act the hill country border plantations were divided into small portions given to sinhala peasants colonnialising the plantation districts.

workers children.....it is difficult to smile

workers children.....it is difficult to smile

Tuesday, March 16, 2021

UPCOUNTRY PEOPLE DEVELOPMENT RESEARCH FOUNDATION

COUNTRY PEOPLE DEVELOPMENT RESEARCH FOUNDATION

Monday, March 30, 2020

  1.  வடபகுதி இந்திய வம்சாவழி மக்கள்
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    இக்கட்டுரை யாழ் பல்கலைக்கழக கலைபீட மாணவர்களால் 1980இல் வெளிக்கொணரப்பட்ட பொதிகை ஆண்டு மலரில் வர்த்தகமானி 1ம் வருட மாணவர் மா. நாகராஜா எழுதிய கட்டுரை.
    அண்மைக் காலங்களில் ஏற்பட்டுவரு பல மாற்றங்கள், குறிப்பாகப் பொருளாதார, சமூக, அரசியல் மாற்றங்கள் இலங்கையிலுள்ள பல்வேறினங்களிடையேயும் மாற்றங்களை ஏற்படுத்தியுள்ளன. இந்நிலையில் இலங்கையில் வாழும் இந்திய வம்சாவளித் தமிழின மக்களையும் ஒரு தேசிய இனமாகக் கணிக்கும் நிலேப்பாடு பலப்படுத்தப்பட்டு வருகின்றது. இவ்வாறு தேசிய இனமாகக் கணிக்கும்பொழுது அது பெரும்பாலும் இலங்கையில் மலையகத்தில் வாழும் பெருந்தோட்டத் தொழில்புரியும் இந்திய வம்சாவளித் தமிழின மக்களையே குறிப்பிடுவதாக அமைகின்றது. அதே சமயத்தில் இலங்கையின் ஏனைய பிரதேசங்களில், குறிப்பாக இலங்கையின் வடபகுதியில் வாழும், இந்திய வம்சாவளித் தமிழின மக்களைப் பற்றிச் சில குறிப்புகளை சுட்டிக்காட்டவேண்டிய சூழ்நிலையொன்று உருவாகியுள்ளது. இவ்வடபகுதியில் இம் மக்கள் எத்தகைய பொருளாதார அடிப்படையையும், எவ்வாறான சமூக இருத்தலையும், அரசியல் அமைப்புக்களையும் இலக்கியப் பரிமாணங்களையும் கொண்டுளனர் என்பதனை ஒரு மேலோட்டமா பார்வையில் இக்கட்டுரை ஆராய்கின்றது

    வடபகுதியின் இந்திய வம்சாவளித் தமிழின மக்களை இரு பிரிவுகளின் அடிப்படையில் பிரித்து ஆராய்ந்து பார்க்கலாம் அப்பிரிவினை அவர்களின் குடியேற்ற காலத்தின் அடிப்படையில் பிரிக்கலாம்.
    1. தென்னிந்தியாவில் ஏற்பட்ட வரட்சியின் பாதிப்பினால் நேரடியாக யாழ்ப்பாணம் போன்ற பிரதேசங்களில் குடியேறிய இந்திய வம்சாவளித் தமிழின மக்கள்.

    2. மலையகத்தில் ஏற்படுத்தப்பட்ட, காணிச் சுவீகரிப்புப் போன்றவற்றினுல் பாதிப்படைந்து மலையகத்திலிருந்து இடம் பெயர்ந்து வவுனியா, மன்னர், கிளிநொச்சி போன்ற பிரதேசங்களில் குடியேறிய இந்திய வம்சாவளித் தமிழின மக்கள்.
    இப்பகுதிகளில் வசிக்கும் இம்மக்களின் வாழ்க்கையினைப் பொருளாதார அடிப்பபடைத் தேவையிலிருந்தே இனம் காண வேண்டியதாகின்றது. உண்மையில் அதுவே அடிப்படையாக அமைகின்றது அத்துடன் இவர்களிடமும் வர்க்க முரண்பாடு காணப்படுகின்றது. இவ்வர்க்க முரண்பாடு இந்தியாவிலிருந்து வரும்போதே உடன் இந்த வர்க்க முரண்பாடாகும். ஏனெனில் இந் தியாவிலிருந்து வந்த ஒரு சாரார் கூலித் தொழிலாளர்களாகவே வந்தனர். இக் கூலித் தொழிலாளர்களில் ஒரு பகுதியினர் மலையகத்துப் பெருந்தோட்டத்திற்கு இடம் பெயர்ந்தனர். ஏனையோர் உதிரிகளாக வடக்கு, கிழக்குப் பகுதிகளில் நகர்ந்தனர். இந்திய மலையாளிகள் தனிநபர்களாகவே இங்கு வந்தனர். இதனுல் இங்குள்ள சமூகங்களுடன் இணேவது அவர்களுக்கு இலகுவானதாக அமைந்தது. ஏனையவர்கள் குடும் பங்களாகவே இங்கு வந்தனர். இவர்களைச் சுரண்டப்படும் வர்க்கத்திற்குள்ளேயே அடக்கப்படவேண்டியதாகும். பிறிதொரு சாரார் சிறு தொகையினராக இருந்தாலும், இலங்கையின் பொருளாதாரத்தைச் சுரண்டுவதற்காக இந்தியாவிலிருந்து நேரடியாகவே மூலதனத்துடன், இங்கு வந்தவர்களாகும். இவர்களைச் சுரண்டும் வர்க்கத்திற்குள் உள்ளடக்கப்படவேண்டியதாகும். எனவே இலங்கையில் வாழும் இந்திய வம்சாவளித் தமிழின மக்களிடையேயும் வர்க்க முரண்பாடுகள் தொடக்க காலத்திலிருந்தே இருந்து வந்துள்ளன.

    இங்கு வடபகுதியில் வசிக்கும் நிரந்தர இந்திய வம்சாவளித் தமிழின மக்களின் அடிப்படை வாழ்க்கை அமைப்பில் வர்க்க முரண்பாட்டுடன், சாதி அமைப்பு முறை யில் சில எச்சங்களும் காணப்படுகின்றன. இங்கு நகர சுத்திகரிப்புப் போன்ற தொழில்களைச் செய்யும் இந்திய வம்சாவளித் தமிழினமக்கள் இந்தியாவிலிருந்துவந்த ஹரிஜன மக்களாவர். இங்கும் அவர்கள் தமது பாரம்பரியத் தொழிலையே செய்கின்றனர். நாடு மாத்திரம், பெயர்ந்துள்ளனர். அத் துடன் இந்தியாவில் எப்படியயன சமூக மட்டத்தில் அடக்கப்பட்டு, ஒடுக்கப்பட்டு, நசுக்கப்பட்டு, ஏமாற்றப்பட்டு, வஞ்சிக்கப்பட்டு, சுரண்டப்ட்டார்களோ அதிலிருந்து எள்ளளவும் அவர்கள் நிலை வடபகுதியிலும் மாறவில்லை. அதேவிதமான அடக்குமுறை தான் இங்கும் பயன்படுகிறது. அத்துடன் பிராஜா உரிமையற்ற மக்களாக இருப்பதனால் பொருளாதார ரீதியில் அதிகளவில் தாக்கப்படுகின்றனர்.

    இந்த ஹரிஜன மக்களைவிட, மற்ற இனக் கீழ்மட்ட வகுப்பினர், இங்கு பல் வேறு தொழில்களைச் செய்கின்றனர். அவர்களும் இங்கு கூலித் தொழிலாளர் களாகவே இருப்பதுடன் உதிரிகளாகவே உள்ளனர். நிரந்தரமான இக்கூலித் தொழி லாளர்களின் பொருளாதாரம் அடிப்படைத் தேவையைப் பூர்த்திசெய்யமுடியாத மட்டத்திலேயே காணப்படுகின்றது. அடிப்படைத் தேவையைப் பூர்த்திசெய்துகொள்வதற்கான போராட்டம் முடிந்தபாடில்லை. இதனால் சுரண்டப்படும் தன்மை மிக அதிகளவில் இவர்கள் மீது பிரயோகிக்கப்படுகின்றது.

    அடிப்படைத் தேவையில் ஒன்றான குடியிருப்புக்கள் நிரந்தரமானவையாகவோ, உரிமையுடையனவாகவோ காணப்படுவதில்லை. அத்துடன் அடிக்கடி இடம்பெயர்ந்து தான் இவ்வம்சாவளி மக்கள் வசிக்கின்றார்கள். மலையகத்து மக்களுடைய வாழ்விடங்கள் எந்த மாதிரியான உள்ளடக்கத்தைக் கொண்டு காணப்படுகின்றனவோ, கிட்டத் தட்ட அதே மாதிரியான நெருக்கமான இடப் பற்றாக்குறை கொண்ட இருண்ட வாழ்விட வசதிகளையே இவர்களும் கொண் டிருக்கிருர்கள். அத்துடன் இவ்வம்சாவளி மக்கள் இப்பிரதேசத்தை நிரந்தரமான வாழ்விடப் பிரதேசமாகக் கொள்ளவில்லை. ஏனெனில், இப்பிரதேசத்தின் இலங்கை வம்சாவளித் தமிழின மக்களுடன் இன்னமும் வேறுபட்டே காணப்படுகின்றனர். இங்கு தமிழ்மொழி பேசப்பட்டாலும் இதனையும் அந்நியப் பிரதேசமாகவே கருதுகின்றனர். அத்துடன் அரசியல் ரீதியிலான இனப் பிரச்சினை, இனக் கலவரங்களினால் வடபகுதியையும் நிரந்தரமற்ற வாழ்விடப் பிரதேசமாகக் கருதி, இந்தியா செல்லவே பலர் விரும்புவதனுல் இலங்கைப் பிரஜாவுரிமை பற்றிய விபரங்களில் அதிக அக்கறை கொள்வதில்லை. இதனால் இங்கிருக்கும் வரை எப்படியாவது எத்தொழிலைச் செய்தாவது இருந்துவிட்டு, இற க் கும் நாளுக்காக இந்தியா செல்வோம் என்னும் மனப்பாங்கு அவர்களின் அடிப்படை வாழ்விடப் போராட்டத்தை இன்னமும் முடிந்தபாடாக இல்லை" இந்நிலையில் சொந்தக் காணி பெற்றுக்கொள்வதை நினைத்துப் பார்க்கமுடியாது.

    மேலும் வடபகுதியில் இந்திய வம்சாவளித் தமிழின மக்கள் தொழில் ரீதியில் இழிவுக் கூலி மட்டத்திலும் பார்க்கக் குறைவான கூலியையே பெற்றுக்கொள்கின்றனர். ஒரு சாரார் ஒரளவு வருமானம் பெற்றாலும் அப்படைத் தேவைகளும் போதுமானதாகவில்லை. வரத்தக நிறுவனங்களில் வேலைசெய்யும் கணக்குப்பிள்ளை, தச்சுவேலை செய்வோர். நகைத் தொழிலாளர் போன்ருேர் இம்மட்டத்தவர்களாவர். இதனைவிடக் கடைகளில் சிப்பந்திகளாகவும், வீடுகளில் வேலைக்காரர்களாகவும் தொழில்புரியும் நபர்கள், மலையகத்திலிருந்து வந்த இந்திய வம்சாவளித் தமிழின மக்களாவர். இவர்கள் ஏனைய தொழில் புரியும் வடபகுதியில் வாழும் நிரந்தரமான இந்திய வம்சாவளி மக்களிலும் பார்க்க வேறுபட்ட நிலைப்பாடுகளைக் கொண்டுள்ளனர். அதாவது நிரந்தரமான இந்திய வம்சாவளித் தமிழின மக்கள் இப்பிரதேசத்தின் மக்களுடன் தொழில் ரீதியில் சார்ந்திருக்கும் தன்மை காணப்பட சிப்பந்தி ஊழியர்கள், வீட்டு வேலைக்காரர்கள் இப் பிரதேசத்தின் மக்களுக்குக் கீழ்ப்பட்டு அடிமைகளாக வாழும் துர்ப்பாக்கியம் காணப்படுகின்றது. அதே சமயத்தில் இந்திய வம்சாவளிப் பிராமணர்கள் இப்பிரதேசத்தின் மதிப்பிற்குரிய மக்களாக இங்குள்ள பிராமணர்களிலும் பார்க்க மேம்பாடுடையவர்கள் எனப் போற்றப்படுகிறர்கள். இதில் வியப்படைவதற்கு ஒன்றுமில்லை. இதற்குக் காரணம் இங்குள்ள சாதிக் கருத்துக்களே. அரசாங்கத் தொழில்களைப் பொறுத்தவரையில் பிரஜாவுரிமையற்ற காரணத்தினுல் புறக்கணிக்கப்படுகின்றனர்.

    மொத்தத்தில் வடபகுதியில் வாழும் இந்திய வம்சாவளித் தமிழின் மக்கள், அடிப்படையில் போதியளவு உணவு, நிரந்தர இருப்பிட, உடை, வசதிகனையோ, கொண்டிருக்கவில்லை. தொழில் ரீதியிலும், சாதி அமைப்பிலும் மிகவும் அடிமட்டங் களைக் கொண்டிருப்பதனல் அவர்களில் பெரும்பாலோரின் வாழ்ககை இன்னமும் அடிமட்டத்து உயிர் வாழ் தற்கான போராட்டமாகவே உள்ளது. இதற்குப் பிரஜாவுரிமையற்றவர்கள் என்பதும், பிரதேச மக்களுடன் இன்னமும் ஒரு மட்டத்திலானவர்கள் என்ற நிலைப்பாடும் இல்லாதவர்களாகும்.

    இவ்வம்சாவளி மக்களின் சமூகவுணர்வு இவர்களின் பொருளாதார நிலைப்பாடுகளி ஞலும், பிரதேசத் தமிழ் இன மக்களின் செயற்பாடுகளினலும் உருவாக்கப்படுகின்றது. இவ்வடிப்படைப் பொருளாதார அமைப்பு இலங்கையிலும், இந்தியாவிலேயும் ஒரேமாதிரியாகக் காணப்படுகின்றது. ஏனெனில் சர்வதேச ரீதியில் முதலாளித் துவ ஏகாதிபத்தியமும், அதனுடைய கால னித்துவக் கொள்கையும், இவர்களின் சமூக உணர்வுகளில் பாதிப்பை ஏற்படுத்தின. பின்னர் ஏற்படும் மாற்றங்களுக்குப் பிரதேச மக்களின் செயற்பாடும் காரணமாக அமைகின்றது.

    இவர்கள், இங்கே வடபகுதியில் அநாதரவான நிலைமையையே அடிப்படையாகக் கொண்டுள்ளனர். இச்சமூகம், பல்வேறு சாதி, தொழில், குழுக்களாகப் பிரிந்து, பிரதேச மக்களுடன் சேரமுடியாத சமூகப் பிரிவுணர்வுகளுடன், அரசியல் ரீதியில் பிரஜாவுரிமை அற்றவர்களாக, நாடு அற் றவர்களாகத் தவறுசெய்த கைதி போன்ற குற்றவுணர்வுடனும், தாழ்வு மனப்பான்மையுடனும் இருப்பதைக் காணலாம். இவ்வுணர்வுகள் பிரதேச மக்களிலிருந்து பிரிந்து வாழும் மனப்போக்கையே பிரதிபலிக்கின் றன. உதாரணமாக, ஒரு சம்பவத்தில் அவன் குற்றவாளியாயிருந்து, பிரதேச மக் களிற் பல ரா ல் தாக்கப்படும்பொழுது தான் நாடற்றவன் என்பதினல், "அடித்தால் யாரும் தட்டிக்கேட்பதற்கு முடியாது, அதுதான் பலர் சேர்ந்து அடிக்கிறார்கள்" எனக் கருதுகின்ருன். உண்மையில் அச்சம் பவத்தித்கு யார் பொறுப்பாக, குற்றவாளி யாக இருந்தாலும், இவ்வாறே தாக்கப்படுவார்கள் என்பதனை அவன் உணர்வதில்லை. இது அவனிடமுள்ள தாழ்வுமனப்பான்மை யினுல் ஏற்பட்டதாகும்.

    இத்தாழ்வு மனப்பான்மை மாத்திர மல்ல, அவர்களிடமுள்ள மரபு ரீதியிலான புழக்கவழக்கங்கள்கூட அருகிவருகின்றன, ன்கவிடப்படுகின்றன. இதற்குக் காரணம் விருப்பமின்மை என்பதல்ல. அவர்களின் அடிப்படைத் தேவையின் உக்கிரமான போராட்டமும், பிரதேசச் சூழலும் மரபுகளைப் போற்றுவதற்கோ அல்லது பின் பற்றுவதற்கோ இடமளிப்பதில்லை. அத்துடன் அவற்றைக் கைக்கொண்டாலும் பல பிரதேசப் பழக்கவழக்கங்களையும் கையாண்டிருப்பதைக் காணலாம்.

    இம்மக்களின் குடும்ப உறவுகள் சிதைவடைந்தே காணப்படுகின்றன. இந்தியாவிலிருந்து வரும்யொழுதே கணவனைப் பிரிந்து வந்த மனைவி, மனைவியைப் பிரிந்துவந்த கணவன், சகோதரர்களைப் பிரிந்து வந்தவர்கள், உறவினர்களைப் பிரிந்து வந்தவர்கள் என்ற நிலைதான் காணப்பட்டது. இங்கு வந்த பின்னர், இங்கு வந்த சாதி உறவுகளுக்குள் புதிய உறவுகள் ஏற்படுத்தப்ப டன. அவ்வுறவுகளின் சேர்க்கைகள் பின் னர் மீண்டும் உடைந்து, குடும்ப நபர்கள் தனித்தனியாகப் பிரிந்து வாழும் தன்மை ஏற்பட்டது. இதனல் அவர்களின் குடும்ப உறவுகள் இறுக்கமான பாசப் பிணைப்புகளைக் கொண்டிருக்கவில்லை. திருமண உறவுகளின் எதிர்பார்ப்புக்கள் இவர்களிடம் அதிகளவு ஆர்வத்திற்குரியதாக, இலட்சியமானதாக, கனவு காணக்கூடியதாக அமைந்திருக்கவில்லை. ஆண் பெண் திருமண உறவுகளை அவதானிக்கும்போது பல வேறுபாடுகளைக் காண முடியும் வயோதிபமடைந்த ஆண், வயது குறைந்த பெண்ணைத் திருமணம் செய்யும்போது அவனுடைய முதல் மனைவி பிறிதொரு நபருடன் வாழும்பொழுதும் மூத்த மகனே அல்லது மகளோ தன்னுடைய குழந்தைகளுடன் தகப்பனின் இத்திருமணத்தை நடத்திவை பார்கள். அது மாத்திரமல்ல, சாதியை பாதுகாக்கப் பெண்களுக்கு இளம் வயதிலும் திருமணம் செய்யப்படும், சிறுவர்களும் இதற்கு விதிவிலக்கல்ல. பெரும்பாலும் வாலிபப் பருவம் வந்தவுடன் திருமணங்கள் முடிந்துவிடும். அவை காதல் திருமணங்கள் என்றோ பெற்றோர்கள்  பார்த்தவை என்றே, சீதனம் பெற்றுக்கொண்டோ நடைபெறுபவையல்ல. மாறாக அப்போதிருந்த சூழ்நிலையின் வசதியில் இவை முடித்துவிடப்படுகின்றன. இதனுல் திருமணம் என்ற சொல்லின் அர்த்தமும், அவற் றுக்கான விளக்கங்களும் இவர்களின் திரு மண விடயங்களில் இவர்களினால் ஆராயப்படுவதில்லை. அவை பற்றி அக்கறை செலுத்தப்படுவதுமில்லை. இத்துரதிர்ஷ்டங்களுக்கு யார் பொறுப்பாளிகள்? அத்துடன் இந்திய வம்சாவளித் தமிழின மக்கள், இப் பிரதேச மக்களுடன் மேற்கொள்ளுகின்ற திருமண உறவுகளும் ஒருபக்கச் சார்புடை யதே ஆகும். அதாவது இவ்வம்சாவளி மக் களின் ஆண்கள் தான் இலங்கை வம்சாவளிப் பெண்களைத் திருமணம் செய்கின்றனர். பிரதேச இலங்கை வம்சாவளி ஆண் கள் இந்திய வம்சாவளிப் பெண்களைத் திருமணம் செய்துகொள்வதில்லை. ஏனெனில் இங்கு நிலப்பிரபுத்துவத்தின், சொத்துடைமையின் எச்ச சொச்சங்கள் பெண்களுக்குச் சீதனப் பொருளாகக் காணப்படுகின்றது. இதனால் இந்திய வம்சாவளித் தமிழினத்தின் ஆண்கள் பிரதேசத்தின் இலங்கை வம்சாவளிப் பெண்களைச் சீதனம் இன்றி, அல்லது குறைந்தளவில் சீதனம் பெற்றுத் திருமணம் செய்கின்றனர். இவை இலங்கைப் பிரஜை உரிமை பெறுவதற்காகவும் நடைபெறலாம். ஆனால் இத்திருமணங்கனை எடுத்துப்பார்த்தாலும் அ வை சிதைந்து போன உறவுகளிலிருந்தே ஏற்படுகின்றன. பொருளாதார வசதி குறைந்த குடும்பங்கள் ஆண் துணையற்ற குடும்பங்கள், விதவைகள், கீழ்மட்டத்துப் பெண்களாகவே அமைந்திருக்கின்றன. அதே சமயத்தில் பிரதேச இலங்கை வம்சாவளி ஆண்கள் இந்திய வம்சாவளிப் பெண்களைத திருமணம் செய்துகொள்ளாமைக்கு அவையே காரணங்களாகவுள்ளன. திருமணம் செய்வதாக இருந்தால் சீதனம் இவர்களால் கொடுக்க முடியாது. அத்துடன் திருமணம் நடை பெற்றாலும் அடிமட்ட இலங்கை வம்சாவளி ஆண்களுக்கும், மனைவி அற்றவர்களுக்கும் வயோதிபம் அடைந்தவர்களுக்கும் மட்டுமே நடைபெறும். ஆகவே, இல்வினத்தைப் பொறுத்தமட்டில் திருமணம், விருப்பங்களையோ, ஆசைகளையோ பொறுத்ததல்ல. மாறாகப் பொருளாதாரங்களைப் பொறுத்ததாகும்.

    மேலும் இம்மக்களுக்கு எவ்வித பாதுகாப்பும் இல்லாமையினல் குடும்பத்தில் உள்ள சகலரும் தொழில்களில் ஈடுபடும் நிலை உள்ளது. சிறுவர்கள் தங்களுக்குரிய குணவியல்புகளைக் கொண்டிருப்பதில்லை. மாறாகச் சிறு வயதில் சமூகப் பாதுகாப்பின்மையினல் வெம்பி முதியவர்கள் ஆகிவிடு கின்றனர். அவர்களுக்குரிய கல்வி வசதி கிடைப்பதில்லை. பெற்றோர்கள் அக்கறை செலுத்துவதில்லை. சில பாடசாலைகள் இவர்களுக்கு அனுமதி வழங்குவதில்லை. படித்தும் பயன் இல்லை என்பதனல் சிறு வயதிலேயே தொழிலுக்கு அனுப்பப்படுகின் றனர். அத்துடன் ஆண்களுக்கு நிகராகப் பெண்களும் தொழிலுக்குப் போகின்றனர், எனவே பொருளாதாரத் தேவை அவர்கள்

    எல்லோரையும் உழைக்கும் நிர்ப்பந்தத்திற் குள் தள்ளிவிடுகிறது. இதனல் இவ் இந்திய வம்சாவளி மக்களின் சமூக உணர்வானது இந்தப் பிரதேசத்தைத் தனக்குச் சொந்த மானது என்னும் மனப்பான்மையை ஏற் படுத்தவில்லை. அத்துடன் இவர்களிடம் எம் பொழுதுமே விரக்தி மனப்பான்மையே காணப்படுடுறது. தாங்கள் தனிமைப்பட்டவர்கள் என்பதாகவும், தாங்கள் பின்தங்கியவர்கள் என்பதாகவும் கருதுகின்றனர். இவர்களைச் சிங்கப்பூர், மலேசியா போன்ற நாடுகளில் வாழும் இந்திய வம்சாவளியின ருடன் ஒப்பிட்டுப் பார்க்கும்போது, அந் நாடுகளின் இந்திய வம்சாவளியினர், அந் நாட்டின் பிரஜாவுரிமை பெற்றிருப்பதுடன் தொழில் வாய்ப்பு, கல்வி வாய்ப்பு என்பன கிடைப்பதஞல் அந்நாடுகளைத் தங்களுடைய சொந்த நாடாகவே கருதுகின்றனர். அவர்கள் பொருளாதார நிலையும் உயர்வானது. ஆனல் அவ்வுணைர்வு வடபகுதியில் வாழும் இந்திய வம்சாமளியினரிடம் இல்லாதிருப்பதைக் குறித்து வியப்படைவதற்கொன்றுமில்லை.

    இவ்வின மக்களிடமிருந்து கலையுணர்வுகளையும் செயற்பாடுகளையும் எதிர்பார்க்கமுடியாது. இற்றைவரைக்கும் வடபகுதி இந்திய வம்சாவளி மக்களால் படைக்கப்பட்ட எந்தவித நாவ்லகளேயோ, சிறுகதைகளையோ, வேறு இலக்கிய வடிவங்களையோ இனங்காணமுடியாது. ஆனால் மலையகத்து இந்திய வம்சாவளி மக்களிடமிருந்து பல்வேறு இலக்கிய வடிவங்கள் தோன்றியிருப்பதை அறிந்துகொள்ளமுடியும். ஏனெனில் அவர்களும் பிரஜரவுரிமை அற்றவர்களாக இருந்தாலும், பொருளா தார ரீதியில் ஓர் அடிப்படையான அமைப்பையும், தங்களுக்கிடையில் தங்களையே அங்கீகரித்துக்கொள்ளும் பலமான சமூக அமைப்பையும் கொண்டுள்ளதால் கலை, இலக்கிய வடிவங்கள் உருவெடுக்கின்றன. ஆனால் வடபகுதி இந்திய வம்சாவளித் தமிழின மக்கள் ஓர் அடிப்படையான பொருளாதாரத்தையோ தங்களுக்குள் தங்களையே அங்கீகரிக்கும் செயற்பாட்டையோ கொண் டிருக்கமுடியாத அளவில் உதிரிகளாகக் காணப்படுவதே அதற்குக் காரணமாகும்

    வடபகுதியின் இந்திய வம்சாவளித் தமிழின மக்களின் அரசியல் ரீதியான நடவடிக்கைகள் மிகவும் பின்தங்கியதான ஒரு செயற்பாட்டையே கொண்டிருக்கின்றது. பொருளாதார ரீதியிலான போராட்டங்களை அரசியல் ரீதியிலான போராட்டங்களாக மாற்றுவதற்கான எந்தவொரு நடவடிக்கையும் இவர்களால் நடாத்தப்படவில்லை. இங்கு தோற்றுவிக்கப்பட்ட சில அமைப்புக்கள் கூட அரசியல் ரீதியான நடவடிக்கைகளைக் கைக்கொள்ளவில்லை. மாறாகப் பொருளாதார நலன்களைக் குறுகிய வட்டத்திற்குள், குறித்த சமூகத்திற்கு மாத்திரம் நிறைவேற்றிக்கொள்வதற்கு உருவாக்கப்பட்டவையாகும். இதனால் இவ்வகை அமைப்புக்கள்கூட வெற்றிகரமாக இயங்கவில்லை. அத்துடன் அரசியல் ரீதியிலான சில நடவடிக்கைகளை இந்திய வம்சாவளித் தமிழின மக்களின் சில தனிப்பட்ட நபர்கள் பல்வேறு கொள்கைகளையுடைய பிரதேச ரீதியிலான கட்சிகளின் அடிமட் டத்து ஊழியர்களாகவே செயற்பட்டனர். குறிப்பாக இளைஞர்கள் சில அரசின் நிறுவனங்களில் மேல்மட்டச் செயற்பாடுகளி லும் அதிகளவு அக்கறையுடன் செயற்பட்டனர், நாடற்றவர்கள் என்பதனால் அரசியலில் பிரவேசிக்க முடியாத தன்மையினுல் பிரதேசத்தின் எந்தவொரு அரசியல் கட்சிகளும் இம்மக்கள் பால் எள்ளளவும் கவனம் செலுத்தவில்லை. அதே சமயத்தில் இவ் இந்திய வம்சாவளித் தமிழின மக்கள் இந்நாட்டின் அரசியலின் பாலும், இப்பிரதேச அரசியல் கட்சிகளின் பாலும், இங்குள்ள அரசியல் சூழ்நிலையிலும் அக்கறை செலுத்தாது, தென்னிந்திய7வின் பிரதேச ரீதியிலமைந்த கட்சிகளின் மீது அக்கறை கொண்டிருந்தனர். அங்குள்ள சூழ்நிலைகளிலேயே தங்களது கவனத்தைச் செலுத்தினர்.

    மேற்கூறிய நிலைமைகள், வடபிரதேசத் தில் (யாழ்க் குடாநாட்டில்) வாழும் இந் திய வம்சாவளித் தமிழின மக்களின் போக்குகளாகும். அதே சமயத்தில் இப்பிரதேசத்தின் ஏனைய இடங்களில் வாழும், குறிப்பாக வவுனியா, மன்னர், கிளிநொச்சி போன்ற இடங்களிலுள்ள இந்திய வம்சாவளித் தமிழின மக்கள் மலையகத்திலிருந்து குடியேறிய மக்களாகும். இம்மக்கள் பெருந்தோட்டத்தில் கூலிவேலை செய்தவர்கள் இங்கு விவசாயத் தொழிலைச் செய்கின்னர். அத்துடன் அத்துமீறிய காணிகளிலேயே பெருமளவு குடியேறியுள்ளனர். இங்கும் இம்மலையகத்து இந்திய வம்சாவளி மக்கள் குறிப்பிட்ட பிரதேசத்தின் இலங்கை மக்களுக்குக் கீழ்ப்பட்டவர்களாகே தொழில் செய்கின்றனர். இம்மலையக இந்திய வம்சாவளித் தமிழின மக்கள் கடின உழைப்பாளிகள் என்பதனலும், கல்வியறிவு அற்றவர்கள் என்பதனாலும், சொத்துடைமை அற்றவர்கள் என்பதனாலும் இவர்களை வடபகுதியின் வன்னிப்பகுதி செறிந்து கொண்டது. இவர்களினல் எந்தவிதமான பிரச்சினைகளும் தமக்கு ஏற்படாது என்பதனால் இப்பிரதேசங்களின் விவசாய நிலங்களில் கூலித் தொழிலாளர்களாக இவர்களைப் பயன்படுத்தப்பட்டனர். இங்கும் இம்மக்கள் அடிமட்டத் தேவைக்கான உயிர் போராட்டத்தையே நடத்துகின்றனர் இவர்களின் சமூக உணர்வும், செயற்ப பாடும் நிரந்தரமற்ற பாதுகாப்பின்மையை அடிப்படையாகக் கொண்டே காணப்படுகின்றது. ஆனால் யாழ்ப்பாணம் போன்ற பகுதிகளில் உதிரிகளாக வாழும் இந் இந்திய வம்சாவளித் தமிழினத்தவர்களை விட வன்னிப் பகுதிகளில் வாழும் இந்திய வம்சாவளித் தமிழின மக்கள் பயன்லயகத்தின் எவ்வாறு தொழில் ரீதியில் ஒன்றிணைந்திருந்தனரோ அதே போன்று இங்கேயும் விவசாயத்தின் கூலித் தொழிலாளர்களாக ஒன்றிணைந்துள்ளனர். இதனால் சில நடவடிக்கைகளை இவர்கள் துணிந்து மேற்கொள்ளமுடிகின்றது. இதனாற் தான் ,மலையகத்தில் வேரூன்றிய பெருந்தோட்ட தொழிற்சங்கங்கள் இப்பகுதிகளிலும் இம் மக்களினூடாகத் தொழிற்சங்க அமைப்புக்களை ஏற்படுத்தி அவை ஊடாக இப்பிரதேச மக்களின் வாழ்க்கையில் ஒரளவு அக் கறை செலுத்தும் செயற்பாடு அதிகரித்து வருகின்றது. இது நிரந்தரமான இந்திய வம்சாவளித் தமிழினத்திற்குள்ள நிலை மையைவிடச் சா த க ம ன ஒரம்சமாகும்.

    இவ்வடபகுதியின் இந்திய வம்சாவளித் தமிழின மக்களின் மத்தியில் இன்று இளைஞர்களின் செபற்பாட்டினூடாகப் புதிய தொரு விழிப்புணர்வு ஏற்பட்டுவருகின்றது. ஏனெனில் இல்விளைஞர்கள் இந்நாட்டில் பிறந்தவர்களினுதலினல் இந்நாட்டையே தங்களுடைய சொந்த நாடாகக் கருதுவதுடன் தங்களை ஒதுக்கிவைத்திருக்கும் நாடற்றவர்கள் என்னும் பிரச்சினையைத் தீர்ப்பதற்குப் பிரஜாவுரிமை பெற்ற இந்திய வம்சாவளி மக்களுடன் சேர்ந்து தங்களுக்குரிய பொருளாதாரச் செயற்பாடு களை மேற்கொள்வதற்கும், அதனை அரசியல் ரீதியான போராட்டமாக முன்வைத்துச் செல்வதுடன் மாத்திரம் இந்த நாட்டில் புதியதொரு சமுதாய மாற்றத்திற்கான நடவடிக்கைகளை மேற்கொள்வதற்காகவும். ஸ்தாபன ரீதியிலான அமைப்பு முறையை ஏற்படுத்த விழைகின்றனர். ஏனெனில் ஸ்தாபன அமைப்பே பிரதேச மக்களுடன் இணைவதற்கும், உறவுகளைப் பலப்படுத்துவதற்கும் ஒரு பாலமாக அமையும். இந்த ரீதியிலான மாற்ற உணர்வுகளே இன்று வளர்ந்துவரும் பேர்க்காகும். எனவே வட பகுதியின் இந்திய வம்சாவளித் தமிழினத்தின் விடிவும், மலையகத்து இந்திய வம்சாவளியினரின் விடிவும், பிரதேசத்தின் இலங்கை வம்சாவளியினரின் விடிவும், ஏன் இலங்கையில் வாழும் சுரண்டப்படும் வர்க் கங்களின் விடிவும் இளைய தலைமுறையின ரிடயே விடப்பட்டுள்ளது எனலாம்.
    "தமிழ் ஐக்கிய முண்ணணி ஆதரவாளர்கள் எல்லோருமே வகுப்புவாதிகள் அல்ல. ஆகவே வகுப்பு வாதிகள் மிகச் சிறுபான்மையினரே என்பது உறுதியாகவில்லையr ? இது மகிழ்ச்சிக்குரிய விடயமில்லையா” - சி. சிவசேகரம்.
    யாழ்ப்பாண வளாக 1977-ம் ஆண்டு 1 மாணவர் சங்க மாணவர்சங்க தேர்தலும் மலையகத் தமிழ் மாணவர்களும் (ஆவணங்களிலிருந்து).
    தொகுப்பு- மூக்கையா நடராஜா.
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    Tuesday, December 17, 2019

    The Pedro Estate in Nuwara Eliya.

    The Pedro Estate in Nuwara Eliya.
    On a recent evening, Elizabeth Mary stood outside her line home on the Pedro Estate in Nuwara Eliya, occasionally batting flies from her hands and face.
    She pointed out a drain running across from her house that was filled with stagnant water. “It smells so bad,” she said. “Our surroundings are so unhygienic.”
    But she doesn’t have the time to press the management who controls the land to fix it. Although she has no children, she takes care of her 73-year-old mother, and cannot work.
    “If I work 24 days a month I will get around 9,000 Rupees,” she said. “So I work 6 days a week.”
    Ever since being brought to Sri Lanka by the British in the 1800s to work in the plantations, the lives of the people in the up-country have largely been defined by struggle.
    Up-Country Tamils, or Indian-origin Tamils, had their citizenship rights stripped from them in 1948. Successive governments have slowly granted citizenship to portions of the population through piece-meal political deals over the years, culminating in the Grant of Citizenship to Persons of Indian Origin Act of 2003, just 15 years ago.

    MP M. Thilakarajah, Nuwara Eliya District.
    Now, workers and community leaders say they are desperately trying to catch up to the rest of the country.
    “The government did not give any interest to these people. They were not citizens of Sri Lanka,” said Mylvaganam Thilakarajah, an MP from the Nuwara Eliya district who grew up on an estate himself. “So they have been neglected from education, health, roads and infrastructure, every area.”
    Those costs are physical: the tea estates have the highest rates of maternal mortality in the country and about 30 percent of children below 5 are underweight, according to the World Bank.
    Now as the battle in the country’s central highlands has turned to the immediate issues of the day – wages, housing, health, plumbing and clean water – the legacy of those citizenship battles persist.
    MP Thilakarajah said it’s hard to understand today’s issues without remembering the fight for the most basic right: being recognized as a citizen in the eyes of your state.
    He said the lives of the people in the up-country mirrors the lives of the plant they spend their lives tending.
    “A tea bush is actually a tree,” he said. “They only look like bushes because they have been kept like that. It’s like this with the people.”
    Stripped of rights
    The British colonizers began bringing labourers to Sri Lanka from South India in the 1820’s to work on the island’s coffee plantations. They were kept as captive labour, made to do the back-breaking work of clearing the jungles and starting Sri Lanka’s plantation economy from the ground.
    This brutal history is reflected in the landscape: most of the island’s cloud forests and upland jungles have been transformed by hand into neat, terraced estates. There’s a place near Haputale known in Tamil as “Crying Hills,” in memory of all the people who died there clearing the forests.
    For about a century, the Tamil estate workers did not have“any organization,” according to MP Thilakarajah. “There was not any political or trade union or anything,” he said in a recent interview.
    But in the 1920’s, inspired by Russian Revolution and political organising in India, Up-Country Tamils formed their first trade union, and began agitating for citizenship rights in the colonial state.
    Just before independence the number of Indian-origin Tamils working in and around the estates was about 11 percent of the total population.
    Soon after independence, though, Parliament passed two acts which would affect the lives of these communities for years to come: the Citizenship Act of 1948 and the Indian and Pakistani Residents Act of 1949.
    “Although these acts were ostensibly about clarifying who was a citizen of this new nation-state, they implicitly ensured that certain people, specifically Indian Tamils, would not become citizens,” writes Daniel Bass, an anthropologist who has extensively studied the Up-Country Tamil Community.
    “Before these acts were passed Up-Country Tamils had rights almost equal to any other person in colonial Ceylon,” he writes. “These two (acts) effectively deprived over one million Up-Country Tamils of their legal and civil citizenship.”
    The sad irony of this maneuver – or as many historians argue, part of the reason for it in the first place – is that the year before, Up-Country Tamils had elected seven Indian-origin Tamil MPs to Parliament.
    They had also helped to elect nine Marxist Sinhala MPs, which rattled the elitist political establishment.
    “Anti-Indian sentiments mingled with anti-communist feelings and made a combustive mix,” according to Bass. “Up-Country Tamils not only lost their political and civil citizenship, but also lost official recognition of their social and cultural citizenship.”
    “For the first 100 years we have been kept, and within 30 years we rose up: the first trade union, then the State Council, then Parliamentarians,” said MP Thilakarajah. “And then in 1948: deprived.”
    “It was a very pathetic period, 1948” he said.
    The long road to citizenship
    Nearly 20 years passed, and in 1964, Prime Minister Sirimavo Bandaranaike and Indian Prime Minister Lal Bahadur Shashtri tried to bring a political solution to the fact that nearly one million people of Indian origin were living in Sri Lanka’s highlands, unrecognized by any government.
    The Agreement on Persons of Indian Origin in Ceylon, signed in October, said that 300,000 Up-Country Tamils would be granted citizenship, while more than 500,000 would be “repatriated” back to India.
    The pact was widely criticized. S. J. V. Chelvanayakam, the prominent Tamil lawyer and politician, called it “an unprecedented move in international relations for half a million people to be treated as pawns in the game of power politics.”
    MP Thilakarajah, then growing up on the Medacombara Estate near Watagoda, remembers friends and neighbors leaving for India.
    After receiving an Indian passport from the high commission in Kandy, “from my village, they got a ticket to Tiruchirappalli from the railway station,” he said. “It meant from here, all the way to there, they traveled with one ticket.” But the agreement was implemented unevenly. Many Up-Country Tamils did not want to leave their livelihoods for homes they did not remember or never knew, and India was slow to repatriate the nearly half a million people.
    When the ferry service between Sri Lanka and India was shut down during the civil war, the agreement effectively ceased.
    By 2003, between 200,000 - 300,000 people of Indian origin were still stateless, according to a UN estimate. In that year Parliament passed the Grant of Citizenship to Persons of Indian Origin Act,which said that all stateless persons of Indian origin who had lived in Sri Lanka since October 1964, and their descendants, were eligible for citizenship.
    But MP Thilakarajah said that even after 2003, and even after an additional act passed in 2009 to address war refugees, the citizenship battle is not over.
    “Being a citizen means not only voting,” he said. “There are other rights too, no?”
    “Still we don’t have the public health sector to the estate plantation sector, which the other people are getting in the country, still the physical conditions are not the same on the estate schools,” he added. “So how can you say we are citizens of this country?”
    Professor Bass agreed.
    “Those decades of neglect and indifference are hard to combat and take a long time to undo,” he said in an interview.
    Always Sri Lankan
    Suppaya Rajasekaran is a 68-year-old teacher and local historian living in Watagoda. From his classroom one can hear the whistles of the train engines making their daily trips back and forth from Colombo to Badulla.
    “Even if you ask people around here about citizenship, they would say they do not know,” he said in a recent interview. “They think that they have always been Sri Lankan citizens.”
    That battle has been eclipsed by the urgent issues of the day, he said. The line homes where many people live do not have adequate plumbing or sewage, people don’t feel they are paid enough for the heavy labour they do in the fields every day, and the schools on the estates do not have the same resources as on other parts of the island. On top of that, Rajasekaran said, people are losing faith in the trade unions who have traditionally represented them in Colombo.
    “The trade unions are very selfish; they will not let anything good happen for these people,” he said“. They are leading happy lives by pointing out the difficulties of this vulnerable group.”
    With the local elections approaching, Rajasekaran said he is urging people in his community to vote independently. “I tell them: ‘Vote for a person who you think will do something good for you. We need someone to represent us,’” he said.
    At the Pedro Estate, Elizabeth Mary and her neighbours made their demands clear. They spoke of wages and sending their children to school so they might have a better life.
    “I will not let my children become tea pluckers,” said Vasantha Rani, who has worked for 34 years in the fields. “I want them to get good jobs and lead a better life. I do not want to see my children suffer.”
    But the question of citizenship appeared to be settled.
    “I don’t know about this citizenship,” Elizabeth Mary said. “I am Sri Lankan, I have always been Sri Lankan.”

    Wednesday, October 23, 2019

    *தோட்டத் தொழிலாளர்களின் உழைப்புச் சுரண்டலில் உருவாக்கப்பட்டு, உலக அரங்கில் ஆச்சரியக் குறியாய் நிமிர்ந்து நின்ற இலங்கைப் பெருந்தோட்டங்கள்; இன்று வலு விழந்து வளைந்து கூனிக்குறுகி கேள்விக் குறியாய் நிற்கின்றன.*

     தேயிலைப் பயிர்ச் செய்கையின் ஆரம்பக் கட்டம் படிப்படியாக வளர்ந்து பிரமாண்ட வளர்ச்சியைக் காட்டி, பெருந்தோட்ட கம்பனி பண முதலைகளுக்கு இலாபத்தை அள்ளிக் கொட்டுவதாகவும், தோட்டச் சிறையில் அடைக்கப்பட்ட கூலித் தொழிலாளர்களுக்கு வறுமையையும் ஏழ்மையையும் பரிசாக வழங்குவதாகவும் அமைந்திருந்தது.

    1871ம் ஆண்டில் இருந்த 995 பெருந்தோட்டங்கள் 1901 இல் 1857 ஆகின. 1921ம் ஆண்டாகியபோது 2367 ஆக உயர்ந்தன. 10 வருடங்களின் பின்னர் அவ்வெண்ணிக்கை 3288 ஆக அதிகரித்துப் போயின. பெருந்தோட்டம். என்றாலே, பணப் பயிர்களில் இருந்து செல்வத்தை அறுவடை செய்யக்கூடிய நிலை உருவாகியிருந்தது. வியர்வை சிந்தி, இரத்தம் சிந்தி அறுவடை செய்தவர்கள் தோட்டத் தொழிலாளர்கள் ஆயினும், அறுவடையின் பலாபலன்கள் அவர்களுக்கு எட்டாக் கனியாகவே இருந்தது. இன்று வரையிலும் அந்தக் கனி கைக்குக் கிட்டாமலேயே இருக்கின்றது.

    வர்க்க எழுச்சிகளும், உரிமைப் போராட்டங்களும் கால ஓட்டத் திசையினை தீர்மானித்திட, அதில் அகப்பட்ட பெருந்தோட்டங்கள் ஒரு கட்டத்தில் அரசுடமையாக்கப்பட்டன. ஆனால், அன்றைய ஆட்சியாளர்களால் தேயிலைத் தேசத்து மக்கள் நாடற்றவர்களாகினர். குடியுரிமை இழந்து போயினர். இரத்தச் சொந்தங்களைப் பிரிந்து வாடினர்.

    இலங்கை அரசியலிலும், பொருளாதார கொள்கையிலும் பிரிக்க முடியாத இடத்தைப் பிடித்திருந்த பெருந்தோட்டங்கள் 1992ம் ஆண்டு அன்றைய ஐக்கிய தேசியக் கட்சி அரசாங்கத்தின் ஜனாதிபதியாக ரணசிங்க பிரேமதாச இருந்தசமயம், தோட்டத் தொழிற்சங்கங்களினதும், மலையக அரசியற் தலைமைகளினதும் பூரண அனுசரணையுடனும், ஒத்தாசையுடனும் 22 பல்தேசியக் கம்பனிகளுக்கு 55 வருடங்களுக்கு குத்தகைக்கு விடப்பட்டன. உண்மையில் அதை ''தாரைவார்த்தனர்" என்று கூறுவதே பொருத்தமானதாகும். குத்தகைப் பணமாக 609.5 மில்லியன் ரூபாவை அன்றைய ஐக்கிய தேசியக் கட்சி அரசாங்கம் பெற்றுக் கொண்டது. பெற்றுக் கொண்ட இப்பணத்தில் அன்று தோட்டத் தொழிலாளர்களின் நலன் கருதிய எந்தவொரு வேலைத்திட்டமும் மேற்கொள்ளப்படவில்லை.

    அரச தோட்டங்கள் தனியார் தோட்டங்களாகின. அதே நேரம், பல்தேசிய கம்பனிகள் தங்களது சொந்தப் பெயர்களை மறைத்து போலியாக உள்ள பெயர்களை வைத்துக் கொண்டன. குறிப்பிட்டுச் சொன்னால், மஸ்கெலியா பிளான்டேஷனானது, போபர்ஸ் என்ட் வர்க்ஸ் கம்பனிக்கு உரித்தானது. மல்வத்த வெளிபிளான்டேஷனானது, மெஸ்கவ் கம்பனிக்கு உரித்தானது. இந்த இரு கம்பனிகளும் அமெரிக்காவிற்கு சொந்தமானது. அன்றைய ஐக்கிய தேசிய கட்சி அரசாங்கத்தின் துணையோடு அமெரிக்க ஏகாதிபத்தியத்தின் ஏகாதிபத்திய நிறுவன வர்க்கம் மலையகம் வரை ஊடுருவியிருந்தது. அன்றைய மலையக இடது சாரிகளின் எழுச்சியையூம் நசுக்கிக் கொண்டிருந்தது. இப்பெருந்தோட்டக் கம்பனிகள் பெருந்தோட்டங்களைக் கவனிக்காது கைவிட்டனர். பெருந்தோட்டங்கள் தந்த இலாபத்தினை பிறநாடுகளில் முதலீடு செய்து வேறு வகையிலும் இலாபத்தைத் தேடினர். இன்று வரையிலும் இந்த நிலைமையில் மாற்றமில்லை.

    தற்போது பல்தேசிய கம்பனி தனது கொழும்புத் தலைமையகத்தின் காரியாலயத்திற்கு 100 மில்லியன் ரூபாயை ஒதுக்குகிறது. கிரிக்கட் விளம்பரத்திற்காக மாத்திரம் வருடமொன்றிற்கு 25 மில்லியன் ரூபாயை ஒதுக்குகிறது. இங்கு தோட்டத் தொழிலாளர்களின் நிலை என்ன? அதுதான் நான் எழுத்துச் சமரின் ஆரம்பத்திலேயே கேள்விக்குறியில் தொடங்கினேன்.

    பல்தேசியக் கம்பனிகள் உடன்பட்டிருந்த உடன்படிக்கைகளை தற்போது மறந்துள்ளன. உதாரணமாக, ''கட்டாயமாவே 3 சதவீதம் மீள்பயிர்ச் செய்கை மேற்கொள்ளப்பட வேண்டும்." என்ற நிபந்தனை இருக்கின்ற பொழுது, ஆரம்பத்தில் மாத்திரம் (1992 - 1994) 0.3 சதவீதம் மீள்பயிர்ச் செய்கை மேற்கொள்ளப்பட்டது. பின்னர் அது கைவிடப்பட்டது.

    அது மட்டுமல்லாது, பெருந்தோட்டங்களில் காணப்பட்ட சவுக்கு மரங்கள், நீரை சேமிக்கும் வாகை மரங்கள், நம் நாட்டு தேசிய மரங்களை அழித்து விற்பனை செய்ததோடு, வெள்ளையர்களால் கொண்டு வரப்பட்ட தேப்பன்டைன், கம் ட்ரீஸ் போன்ற வர்த்தக மரங்களை நாட்டியதன் மூலம் பெருந்தோட்டம் பாலை நிலமாகிக் கொண்டிருக்கிறது. தோட்டத் தொழிலாளர்களின் சம்பள விடயத்தை (1999 இற்கு பின்னர்) நிபந்தனைகள் அடிப்படையில், முதலாளிமார் சம்மேளனம் மற்றும் தொழிற் சங்கங்களுக்கிடையில் கூட்டமைத்து நாட் கூலி சம்பள முறையைக் கொண்டு வந்து, தோட்டத் தொழிலாளர்களின் ஊதிய உரிமையையும் பறித்தெடுத்தனர்.

    தோட்டத் தொழிலாளர்களின் நாட்கூலியை அதிகரிக்க இரு வருடத்திற்கு ஒருமுறை அவர்களே ஒன்று கூடி அவர்களே முடிவெடுத்தும் கொள்கின்றனர். இதுதான் உறுதியும் அறுதியும் இறுதி முடிவாகிறது. அண்மையில் கூட்டு உடன்படிக்கை ஒன்றுகூடலில், பெருந்தோட்டம் நட்டத்தில் இயங்குவதாகக் கூறி இலங்கை அரசாங்கம், மலையக தலைமைகள், தொழிற்சங்கங்கள் என்பவற்றின் அரவணைப்புடன் தோட்டத் தொழிலாளர்களுக்கான நாட்சம்பளத்தை கம்பனி மட்டுப்படுத்தியது.

    2006 இற்கு பின்னர், இலங்கை தேயிலை ஏற்றுமதியில் பாரிய நட்டம் ஏற்பட்டபோது, தேயிலைத் தொழிற்றுறையும், இலங்கை அரசும் அதனை மீளக் கட்டி யெழுப்ப வேலைத்திட்டங்களை மேற்கொள்ளாததன் காரணத்தால் ''சிலோன் டீ'' யால் உலகச் சந்தையில் பிரகாசிக்க முடியாமல் போனது.

    1999ம் ஆண்டு, கூட்டு உடன்படிக்iயின் பிரகாரம் ஒரு தோட்டத் தொழிலாளியின் நாட்சம்பளம் 101 ரூபாயாக காணப்பட்டது. தற்போது அதாவது, 2019 இல் நாட் சம்பளம் 700 ரூபாயாகக் காணப்படுகிறது. ஆக, 20 வருடங்களில் 599 ரூபாய் மாத்திரமே அதிகரிக்கப்பட்டுள்ளது. ஒரு வருடத்திற்கு கிட்டத்தட்ட 30 ரூபாய் மாத்திரமே சம்பளம் அதிகரிக்கப்பட்டுள்ளது. ஆனால், வரி, வாழ்க்கைச் செலவு மற்றும் இதர செலவு என அனைத்தும் சம்பள உயர்வை விடபல மடங்கு அதிகரிக்கப்பட்டுள்ளது. கிட்டத்தட்ட நாளொன்றுக்கு 1 சதம் சம்பள உயர்வாக அதிகரிக்கப்பட்டதே இதுவரையில் மலையகத் தலைமைகளினதும், தொழிற் சங்கங்களினதும் பெரும் சாதனையாக இருக்கின்றது. இதற்கு வழிசமைத்துச் சென்றவர் ஐக்கிய தேசியக் கட்சி அரசாங்கத்தின் ரணசிங்க பிரேமதாச ஆவார்.

    இன்று பெருந்தோட்டக் கம்பனிகளானது தோட்டங்கள் நட்டத்தில் இயங்குவதாகக் கூறுகிறது. அத்தோட்டங்களை அரசாங்கத்திடம் மீளவழங்க கம்பனிகள் தயாரில்லை. அதற்கு பதிலாக ஆணைக்கொய்யா, கறுவா, கோப்பி, இறப்பர், செம்பனை, பழப்பயிர்கள், மரக்கறிகள், பூஞ்செடிகள் போன்ற மாற்றுப் பயிர்களை பயிரிட தயாராகி வருகின்றனர். ''கோப்பி அடிமைக்காலம் முடிந்தது! தேயிலை அடிமைக் காலம் முடியப் போகிறது! மீளவும் இந்தக் கொத்தடிமைக் காலத்துக்கே போகப் போகிறோமா? அல்லது எதிர்காலத்தை திருத்தி எழுதப் போகிறோமா?" என்ற கேள்வியை பெருந்தோட்டமக்களிடமே விட்டு விடுகிறேன்.

    மாற்று பயிர்ச் செய்கையோடு இணைந்த மற்றொருமாற்றுத் திட்டத்தையும் பல்தேசியக் கம்பனிகள் ஆரம்பிக்க 'ஸ்கெட்ச்' போட்டுள்ளது. அதாவது, மலை
    நாட்டு நீர் வளங்களை சுவீகரித்து இலாபம் பார்த்தல் ஆகும்.

    இது இவ்வாறிருக்க, இலங்கைப் பெருந்தோட்டத்தை நிர்வகிக்கும் முன்னணி நிறுவனமான அக்கரைப் பத்தனை மற்றும் கொட்டகலை பிளான்டேசன்கள் (நிஜப் பெயர் லென்கெம் நிறுவனம்) நட்டத்தில் இயங்குவதாகக் கூறிக்கொண்டு, தோட்டங்களை இனி பராமரிக்க முடியாது என்ற நொண்டி சாட்டை முன்வைக்கிறது. அதன் எதிர் விளைவாக, அக்கம்பனிகள் தோட்டத் தொழிலாளர்களின் ஊழியர் சேமலாப நிதி மற்றும் ஊழியர் நம்பிக்கை நிதியை குறிப்பிட்ட நேரத்தில் வைப்பில் இடாமல் இருக்கிறது. சம்பள அதிகரிப்பின் 40 சதவீதத்தை வழங்காமல் நட்டத்தைக் காட்டுகிறது.

    ஆனால், அக்கம்பனிகள் காட்டும் நட்டம் உள்ளூர் பெருந்தோட்டங்களில் ஏற்பட்ட நட்டமல்ல! இலங்கைப் பெருந்தோட்டத்தில் பெற்ற இலாபத்தில் லென்கம் கம்பனி வியட்நாமில் பாரிய செம்பனை (Palm oil) திட்டத்தை ஆரம்பித்தது. அதில் லென்கம் கம்பனி பாரிய நட்டத்தையும், பின்னடைவையும் அடைந்தது. இந்த நட்டத்தையே அக்கரப்பத்தனை மற்றும் கொட்டகலை பிளான்டேசன்கள் தோட்டத் தொழிலாளர்களின் தலையில் போட்டுள்ளது.

    இன்று அந்த தோட்டத்தின் மக்கள் நடுத் தெருவுக்குவரும் நிலை ஏற்பட்டுள்ளது. E P.F , E .T .F கிடைக்காத நிலைமையும் காணப்படுகிறது. ரணசிங்க பிரேமதாச முதல் அதன் பின் ஆட்சி அதிகாரத்திற்கு வந்த சந்திரிக்கா பண்டாரநாயக்க, மஹிந்த ராஜபக்ஷ, மைத்திரி - ரணில் அரசாங்கம் அனைவரும் பெருந்தோட்டங்களின் மக்களுக்கான மாற்று நடவடிக்கைகளை மேற்கொள்ளாது அவர்களைக் கைவிட்டனர்.

    ஆக, எதிர்வரும் காலங்களில் அனைத்து பெருந்தோட்டங்களுக்கும் இந்த நிலைமை தோன்றலாம். தோட்டத் தொழிலாளர்கள் நடுத் தெருவில் நிறுத்தப்படலாம். இதற்கெதிராக குரலெழுப்பவேண்டிய கட்டாயம் மலையக புத்திஜீவிகள், கலைஞர்கள், இளைஞர் யுவதிகள், சமூக நலன் விரும்பிகள் உட்பட எம் அனைவரிடமும் உண்டு. இதுவரை பயணித்த அதிகார வர்க்கத்தின் ஆட்சிப் பாதைக்கு பதிலாக மாற்று வழியை தேர்ந்தெடுக்க வேண்டிய கடப்பாடும் அனைவருக்கும் உண்டு.

    இவ்விடத்தில் தோட்டத் தொழிலாளர்கள் சரியான பாதையைத் தேர்ந்தெடுத்து சிந்தித்து செயற்படு வார்களாயின், மலையகம் நமதே! மலையகம் உழைக்கும் மக்களினதே! நம் அடுத்தடுத்த நகர்வுசரியாக அமைந்தால் முழு இலங்கை தேசமும் பாட்டாளிகளினதே!

    Sunday, October 13, 2019

    A Short History of the Lanka Sama Samaja Party

    Leslie Goonewardene

    Leslie Goonewardene

    A Short History of the Lanka Sama Samaja Party

    ________________________________

    Source: What’s Next?
    Transcription: Originally transribed by What’s Next?. Reformatted for
    the ETOL in 2009 by D. Walters
    Note by Transcriber: The numbered footnotes are from the original
    article in What’s Next?. The linked terms go to the Marxist Internet
    Archive Glossary and do not reflect the point of view of either the
    author or Spartacist.

    ________________________________

    Foreword

    This is a short history of the Lanka Sama Samaja Party produced in
    connection with the 25th anniversary celebrations of the party.
    Written by Leslie Goonewardene, it has been ratified by a special
    committee of the party appointed for the purpose. The committee is
    composed of N.M. Perera, Colvin R. de Silva, Leslie Goonewardene,
    Edmund Samarakkody, Doric de Souza and P.B. Tampoe.

    47 Drieberg’s Avenue, Colombo
    December 18th 1960

    Chapter 1 – The Early Period

    Preparatory Work

    The Lanka Sama Samaja Party was founded on December 18th 1935 with the
    broad aims of Independence and Socialism, by a group of young people
    who had gathered together for that purpose.

    The idea did not fall from the sky but had been maturing for some
    time. The only other parties that could be said to have existed at the
    time were the Ceylon National Congress and the Ceylon Labour Party.
    The Ceylon National Congress representing the interests of the
    Ceylonese capitalists, was following a policy of begging for
    constitutional reforms, with the aim of Dominion Status, in much the
    same manner as the Liberals in India. The Labour Party, which had
    played a progressive role along with the Ceylon Labour Union in the
    twenties in the first important awakening of Ceylon’s working class,
    had degenerated into a one-man show, and in any case had nothing to do
    with Socialism. There was a void to be filled.

    Just as the idea of the new party did not fall from the sky, so also
    the group of people who formed it did not suddenly gather together
    from nowhere. It was a grouping that had collected as the result of
    some patient work over a few years. The group that was the precursor
    of the Lanka Sama Samaja Party was first formed some time in the
    latter part of 1933. But one might go even further back to the
    Wellawatte Mills Strike of 1932, the leadership of which had been
    provided by individuals who were later to become members of the group.

    The group at the commencement numbered a bare half-dozen composed
    principally of students who had returned from abroad, influenced
    deeply by the ideas of Karl Marx and Lenin. But it gradually expanded.
    It might be of interest today to recall that N.M. Perera, Colvin R. de
    Silva, Leslie Goonewardene, Philip Gunawardena and Robert Gunawardena
    were among the members of the original group.

    Efforts were made to break into the working class field, and the group
    published for several months a Sinhalese paper entitled “Kamkaruwa
    ”(Worker). In the trade union field the group came into head-on clash
    with Mr A.E. Goonesinghe the reformist labour leader. (Mr
    Goonesinghe’s influence, though on the wane, was to persist till the
    war period.) Excepting the Wellawatte Mills, in this clash Mr
    Goonesinghe was generally the victor. The young enthusiasts learned in
    the hard way that the working class does not lightly abandon its
    traditional leadership.

    Efforts in the general political field were more successful. On the
    initiative of the South Colombo Youth League, the Suriya Mal Movement
    was launched in November 1933. A couple of years or so previously, in
    protest against the proceeds of Poppy sales on Armistice Day (November
    11th) being used for the benefit of the British ex-servicemen to the
    detriment of Ceylonese ex-servicemen, a Ceylonese ex-serviceman, Mr
    Aelian Perera, had started a rival sale of Suriya flowers on this day,
    the proceeds of which were devoted to help needy Ceylonese
    ex-servicemen. This movement was revived on a new anti-imperialist and
    anti-war basis.

    Emblazoning the words “Peace ”and “Freedom ”on its banner the new
    Suriya Mal Movement came into being. Young men and women sold Suriya
    flowers on the streets on November 11th in competition with the Poppy
    sellers, yearly until the second world war. The purchasers of the
    Suriya Mal were generally from the poorer sections of society and the
    funds collected were not large. But the movement provided a rallying
    point for the anti-imperialist minded youth of the time. Doreen
    Wickramasinghe (Mrs S.A. Wickramasinghe) was elected first President
    of the Suriya Mal Movement at a meeting held at the residence of
    Wilmot Perera in Horana. Terence N. de Zilva and Robin Ratnam were
    elected Joint Secretaries, and Roy de Mel Treasurer.

    The proceeds of the campaign were utilised for the publication of
    literature and the education of a child of a depressed community. The
    Suriya Mal workers also played an important role during the malaria
    epidemic of 1934-35 in which 125,000 died throughout the country.
    Bands of Suriya Mal workers encamped in the worst affected areas and
    did valuable relief work in the malaria-stricken villages.

    In this early period, youth leagues were started in various places
    having as their aim the winning of complete independence for Ceylon.
    Anti-imperialist propaganda was carried on under the aegis of the
    youth leagues. Noteworthy was the opposition organised to the campaign
    of the National Congress Board of Ministers to gain support in the
    country for their petition to Whitehall. This “Ministers’ Memorandum”,
    as it came to be known, instead of demanding even Dominion Status for
    Ceylon only asked for the transfer of more power to the elected
    Ministers. The Youth Leagues opposed the manoeuvre as an abject
    capitulation to imperialism. After three or four public meetings, in
    the face of opposition the Ministers dropped their campaign.

    All this preparatory work paved the way for the formation of the Lanka
    Sama Samaja Party. The first members of the party came principally
    from elements thrown up by the youth leagues and the Suriya Mal
    movement,

    The Party is Launched

    The first manifesto of the Lanka Sama Samaja Party declared that its
    aims were the achievement of complete national independence, the
    nationalisation of the means of production, distribution and exchange,
    and the abolition of inequalities arising from differences of race,
    caste, creed or sex.

    It is of interest today to note that the partial demands raised at the
    time included the abolition of child labour, free school books,
    abolition of irrigation rates, a scheme of unemployment insurance,
    minimum wage, eight-hour day, rent restriction, slum clearance, the
    use of Sinhalese and Tamil for proceedings in lower courts and for
    entries in police stations and the gradual extension of this to all
    government departments, abolition of the headman system and
    nationalisation of imports of rice and petrol.

    Membership of the party was open to those who subscribed to the
    party’s aims and paid a subscription of 25 cents a month. Power was
    vested in an Executive Committee between annual conferences. Colvin R.
    de Silva was elected President at the inaugural meeting and Vernon
    Gunasekera was elected Secretary.

    The Party succeeded in securing the election of two of its members,
    Philip Gunawardena (Avissawella) and N.M. Perera (Ruanwella) to the
    State Council in the General Elections of February-March 1936, Dr S.A.
    Wickramasinghe, member for Akuressa in the First State Council of
    1931, re-contested his seat as LSSP candidate in the General Election
    of 1936, and lost. Leslie Goonewardene lost his contest at Panadura.

    The securing of two seats in the State Council was an invaluable aid
    to the young party. The two State Councillors fully utilised the
    legislature as a forum to propagandise the policy of the party and to
    put forward its view on all important questions as they arose. Their
    advent was like a waft of fresh air. The walls of the chamber began to
    echo the cry of the oppressed, the grievances of the workers, the
    complaints of the rural population, the defiance of those who would
    not submit to imperialist subjection or capitalist and feudal
    exploitation and oppression.

    The Sinhalese weekly “Samasamajaya ”commenced on July 10th 1936, and
    edited by B.J. Fernando also played a valuable role. It continued to
    appear regularly till the press was seized and sealed up by the
    Government in 1940. The Tamil weekly “Samatharmam ”was commenced in
    1938. Its first editor was K. Ramanathan. Later T.E. Pushparajan
    became the editor.

    Bringing Politics to the People

    In order to appreciate and understand the nature of the impact made by
    the Lanka Sama Samaja Party on the political scene and the role it
    played in this first period, it is important first of all to realise
    that politics in the sense we understand it today did not exist at
    that time in Ceylon. Although universal franchise had existed from
    1931, elections did not proceed on party lines, and political issues
    were hardly raised. Voters used to vote on caste, religious or
    personal considerations. Politics was really confined to the English
    educated few, and it was customary for public meetings to be conducted
    in English.

    In a sense it would be true to say that the Lanka Sama Samaja party
    introduced politics to Ceylon. Certainly it brought politics to the
    common people, employing a language and terms they could understand.
    Many words, especially in political terminology, which are in current
    use today in the Sinhalese language have acquired their meaning thanks
    to the Sama Samaja movement.

    As a matter of fact, when the Lanka Sama Samaja Party was formed there
    were no accepted words in Sinhalese to describe the words “Socialist
    ”or “Communist”. That is how the word “Samasamajaya”, coined by Mr
    Dally Jayawardena in the “Swadesa Mitraya ”of that day to describe the
    word “Socialist”, came to be chosen. The new term had the added
    advantage of not being associated with the ideas of reformism that are
    attached to the English word “Socialist”.

    In the period 1935 to 1939, a number of reforms and measures of social
    amelioration are directly attributable to the agitation of the Lanka
    Sama Samaja Party, both within the State Council and outside. Thus,
    for example, a million rupees was set apart in 1936 for free meals for
    school children, a reform of the headman system was set going in 1937
    by the abolition of the posts of superior headmen (that is,
    Ratemahatmayas, Mudliyars, as also Korales and Vidane Arachchies) and
    a resolution to abolish irrigation rates was accepted by the State
    Council in 1938 and implemented a year later.

    In November 1936, a motion that “in the Municipal and Police Courts of
    the Island the proceedings should be in the vernacular ”was accepted
    by the State Council and referred to the Legal Secretary. Needles to
    say, nothing was done about it. A similar fate attended a motion
    passed on the same day that “entries in police stations should be
    recorded in the language in which they are originally stated”. These
    early efforts to make a beginning in the displacement of English as
    the language of administration thus went unheeded. The failure to
    tackle these matters in time was later to give this question of the
    state language such an explosive form as to threaten the very unity of
    the Ceylonese nation.

    Similarly, another Samasamajist motion “not to grant any recruiting
    licences under any circumstances whatsoever”, aimed at a ban on Indian
    immigration, was debated and defeated in September 1937 on the
    specious plea that there was a shortage of labour in the plantations.
    This has never, however, prevented the very people who opposed this
    resolution from attacking the Samasamajists as being “pro-Indian ”and
    “anti-Ceylonese ”when they have defended the human rights of these
    plantation workers whom the capitalists themselves had brought from
    India.

    It was about the same time as the formation of the Lanka Sama Samaja
    Party that a group of young socialists in India, under the leadership
    of people like Jayaprakash Narain, Ashok Mehta, M.R. Masani and
    Rammanohar Lohia, had launched the Congress Socialist Party in India.
    Fraternal relations were established between the two parties and it
    was probably partly as a result of this that a delegation of the Lanka
    Sama Samaja Party was invited to and attended the Faizpur Sessions of
    the Indian National Congress in 1936. In April 1937 Kamaladevi
    Chattopadyaya, a leader of the Congress Socialist Party and one of the
    most colourful figures in the Indian national movement, was the guest
    of the Lanka Sama Samaja Party and addressed a large number of
    meetings in various parts of the country on a national tour. This
    propaganda campaign helped the newly formed party to popularise
    itself.

    The Bracegirdle Episode

    It was towards the end April 1937 that there occurred an episode that
    led to the party receiving nation-wide publicity and which first
    established the party’s reputation as an organisation which fights for
    democratic rights not only in words but also in deeds.

    M.A.L. Bracegirdle, a young Australian, after completing his “creeping
    ”on a British tea plantation, joined the Lanka Sama Samaja Party and
    began to participate energetically in its activities. This was too
    much for the white sahibs of the Plantation raj who considering their
    prestige was at stake prevailed upon the Governor at the time Sir
    Reginald Stubbs, to serve an order of deportation on Bracegirdle under
    a century-old law.

    Bracegirdle was served with the order of deportation on April 22nd and
    given 48 hours to leave by a steamer on which a passage had been
    booked for him by the Government. The Party with the full concurrence
    of Bracegirdle decided that the order should be defied. On April 24th
    the steamer left without Bracegirdle, and there followed a man-hunt
    throughout the country, in which, despite all efforts of the police
    Bracegirdle successfully eluded arrest. In parenthesis it may be
    mentioned that the experience gained in hiding Bracegirdle was
    valuable for the party for the illegal and underground tasks of the
    war years.

    In the meantime, the matter gained nation-wide publicity with public
    sympathy increasingly manifesting itself in favour of Bracegirdle. In
    the party May Day, demonstration that year there were placards
    declaring “We want Bracegirdle – Deport Stubbs”. The Board of
    Ministers too began to feel the pressure of mass opinion and protested
    against the Governor’s action which had been taken without even
    consulting the Minister of Home Affairs. After 11 days of eluding the
    police, Bracegirdle made a dramatic re-appearance at a mammoth rally
    in Colombo on May 5th; a couple of days later he was arrested.

    But by now legal preparations had been made. A writ of “Habeas Corpus
    ”was served, and there ensued a legal battle before a bench of three
    Supreme Court judges presided over by Chief Justice Sir Sidney
    Abrahams. The case created legal history. Mr H.V. Perera, Ceylon’s
    leading civil lawyer, volunteered his services free on behalf of
    Bracegirdle. In the end on May 18th order was made quashing the
    Governor’s order of deportation, and Bracegirdle was a free man.

    It should not be supposed, however, that the young Sama Samaja Party
    had an easy path to tread. From the commencement the Ceylonese
    bourgeoisie recognised in the Lanka Sama Samaja Party its real enemy.
    Sir Don Baron Jayatilleke commenced the onslaught, acting on the
    theory, no doubt, that it was always better to nip a thing in the bud.
    He made it a point to attack the Sama Samaja Party at political and
    non-political meetings he addressed in various parts of the country,
    declaring that the Samasamajists were out to destroy religion. One of
    the results of Sir Baron’s propaganda was that the Lanka Sama Samaja
    Party began to receive requests for meetings from people in whom
    interest had been aroused by Sir Baron’s attacks and who desired to
    hear the other side of the question! Needless to say, the party was
    only too glad to oblige.

    Realising, no doubt, that verbal attacks were not achieving their
    purpose, the bourgeoisie decided that firmer measures were needed.
    From 1937 to 1939 a systematic effort was made to disrupt Samasamaja
    meetings not only by shouting and beating of tom-toms, but by physical
    attacks by drunken hoodlums armed with clubs and knives. Very often,
    in those days, holding a public meeting involved elaborate
    organisation for the defence of the meeting against such attacks. Many
    meetings resulted in open clashes. The Bulathkohupitiya and Homagama
    meetings in particular deserve mention as instances where the party
    showed its determination to defend the right of meeting. In the latter
    case, as late as February 1939, many were injured on both sides.

    Another form of attack resorted to by the bourgeois opponents of the
    party was the publication of scurrilous literature against the
    Samasamajist leaders. One particularly indecent paper called “Sinha
    Handa ”deserves special mention since it was edited by a particularly
    capable Sinhalese writer of repute who had prostituted his talents to
    serve his bourgeois masters.

    The Trade Union Field

    After the launching of the party, efforts at unionisation of the
    workers met with greater success than before. Indeed the party was
    able to take leadership in the spontaneous island-wide two-day strike
    of the motor workers that took place on the eve of the February 1936
    General Election, against the recently promulgated Motor Laws which
    provided for the cancellation of driving licences for trivial
    offences.

    Trade union work was, however, an uphill task in the face of the
    opposition of the reformist labour leader Mr Goonesinghe, whose
    opposition went so far as to supply blacklegs to employers to break
    strikes led by the Samasamajists. Unionisation, however, went slowly
    forward among the bus workers, the Ratmalana Railway Workshop workers,
    and other sections of workers in private establishments. In this
    period the party provided leadership in strikes of workers of the
    Admiralty in Trincomalee, the Kolonnawa oil installation, the Colombo
    Commercial Co. at Hunupitiya, and at other places.

    In 1938, however, unionisation suffered a severe setback as the result
    of a marked growth of anti-Indian sentiment among the Sinhalese
    workers. Mr. Goonesinghe who had raised the anti-Indian cry in the
    Wellawatte Mills strike of 1932 made a desperate effort to retain his
    hold on labour by an anti-Indian campaign. He was greatly assisted in
    this by Mr J.L. Kotelawala (later Sir John Kotelawala), Minister of
    Communications and Works, who announced with a fanfare of trumpets
    that he was getting rid of all Indian workers working under the
    Government. The campaign to arouse racial hatred was a success. Many
    work-places in Colombo employed also workers of Indian origin. With
    division in the ranks of the workers, union organisations collapsed,
    and it was a simple matter for the employers to impose their own terms
    on the workers in the workplaces. Even the strong Wellawatte Mill
    Workers Union was a casualty in this period when union organisation
    reached a very low level. This was the first example of the successful
    use of communalism as an organised manoeuvre to disrupt the mass
    movement. These moods began to change only with the commencement of
    the war and the strike wave among the plantation workers.

    The end of 1939 and the first half of 1940 saw the awakening for the
    first time of the workers of the plantations. A wave of spontaneous
    strikes spread throughout the plantations, commencing in November. At
    the start the issues were generally trivial, such as a discontinuance
    or a transfer, but basically it was a struggle of the workers to win
    the right of organisation. There were two principal organisations
    working among the plantation workers, one the trade union organisation
    of the Ceylon Indian Congress, and the other the All-Ceylon Estate
    Workers Union led by the Samasamajists.

    In November and December the wave was more or less confined to the
    Central Province and was by and large under the leadership of the
    Congress. In this area it reached the zenith in the Mool Oya Estate
    strike, which was led by the Samasamajists. In this strike, on January
    19th 1940, the worker Govindan was shot and killed by the police and
    became the first of a long list of martyrs of the working class in the
    plantations. As a result of agitation both within the State Council
    and outside, the Government was compelled to appoint a Commission of
    Inquiry. Colvin R. de Silva, who appeared for the widow of Govindan,
    was able to make a very effective exposure of the combined role of the
    police and employers in the plantation raj of the white man. The name
    of Veluchamy, Secretary of All-Ceylon Estate Workers Union, is
    indissolubly bound up with the Mool Oya strike.

    But the raj of the white planters was beginning to crack. After Mool
    Oya, the plantation strike wave spread southward towards Uva, with the
    workers showing increasing militancy and determination. The strikes
    became more prolonged (the strike on St Andrews’ Estate, Talawakelle,
    continued for 3 months), more basic demands such as wage demands were
    increasingly raised, and the workers began more and more to seek the
    militant leadership of the Samasamajists.

    When the strike wave reached Uva Province, the Samasamajists were in
    the leadership. In a desperate effort to stem the tide, the Badulla
    Magistrate issued an order banning the holding of meetings. On a
    decision by the party N.M. Perera broke the ban and addressed a
    mammoth meeting in Badulla on May 12th. The police were powerless to
    act. Willie Jayatilleke, Edmund Samarakkody and V. Sittampalam4 did
    invaluable work in the struggle in Uva.

    The highest point in the entire struggle was reached on Wewessa Estate
    where the workers set up their elected council, the Superintendent
    agreeing to act in consultation with the Workers’ Council. An armed
    police party that went to restore “law and order ”was disarmed by the
    workers, and on the orders of the workers’ council the rifles were
    returned to the policemen on their furnishing a signed receipt.

    Finally, of course, the strike wave was beaten back by the police.
    This was facilitated by floods which cut off Uva from the rest of the
    country for over a week. And the police specially took their revenge
    on the heroic Wewessa workers by a literal armed invasion of the
    estate followed by a rule of terror which compelled scores of workers
    to seek refuge in the jungle for several days.

    The militant leadership provided by the party made a deep impression
    among the plantation workers. But the party was never able to build on
    this goodwill because firstly, repression descended on the party
    immediately afterwards, leaving the trade union field in the
    plantations free to the Ceylon Indian Congress; and secondly because
    even after the war, the measures of the Government against workers of
    Indian origin drove these workers quite naturally in the circumstances
    into the arms of the Ceylon Indian Congress.

    Chapter 2 – War and Repression

    Trotskyism and Stalinism

    The Second World War, which commenced in September 1939, brought many
    changes for the Lanka Sama Samaja Party. But in the first place, it
    accelerated changes within it.

    For some time past, most of the leaders of the Lanka Sama Samaja Party
    had been disturbed by certain international developments, such as the
    Moscow Trials and the Popular Front line of the Communist Parties of
    the West. They could not believe that the confessions in the trials
    were genuine and felt compelled to come to the conclusion that they
    were gigantic frame-ups. The line of the Popular Front, especially in
    Spain, appeared to be dictated, not by the needs of the Spanish
    Revolution, but by the foreign policy needs of the Soviet Government.
    The line of the National Front, prescribed for colonial countries,
    seemed to subserve the same aim. In other words, the Third (Communist)
    International, founded by Lenin in 1919 to give help and guidance to
    the socialist revolution throughout the world, had apparently
    degenerated into an abject instrument of Stalin’s changing foreign
    policies. A careful reading of Trotsky’s “Revolution Betrayed ” (first
    available in English in 1938) also had a profound effect on the
    leaders of the Lanka Sama Samaja Party.

    The support of the war for some weeks by the Communist Parties of
    Britain and France who were faithfully following the People’s War line
    of the Popular Front and their abrupt change of line into one of
    opposition to the war, presumably on instructions from abroad,
    underlined the need for an early clarification of the question within
    the Lanka Sama Samaja Party.

    Accordingly the following resolution was presented to and adopted by
    the Executive Committee of the Lanka Sama Samaja Party: “Since the 3rd
    International has not acted in the interests of the international
    revolutionary working class movement, while expressing its solidarity
    with the Soviet Union, the first workers’ state, the Lanka Sama Samaja
    Party declares that it has no faith in the 3rd International. ”29
    voted for, and 5 against the resolution. Among those voting against
    were S.A. Wickramasinghe and M.G. Mendis who had for some time, along
    with Jack Kotalawela, served as Joint Secretary of the party.

    The clash between the Trotskyists and the Stalinists now came into the
    open in the party. Shortly afterwards, the Stalinists were expelled.
    This was possibly the first occasion in the history of party
    expulsions where the Trotskyists expelled the Stalinists, and not the
    reverse.

    The Executive Committee of the party also adopted a new programme and
    constitution. Hitherto the programme of the party had been vague. Now
    a clear revolutionary programme was adopted, in line with the
    programme of the 4th International, founded by Trotsky in 1938. The
    old constitution had granted membership to all those who paid a
    subscription of 25 cents a month. The new constitution limited
    membership to those who paid a monthly subscription according to
    ability to pay, and who engaged in party activity as members in a
    party group or local organisation. An effort was thus made to convert
    the party from a loose body of individuals into a fighting
    organisation.

    How timely the change was, is shown by the repression that descended
    on the party immediately afterwards. Further, one dreads to think what
    the position would have been if the Stalinists had remained within the
    party till 1941, when the Soviet Union entered the war against
    Germany.

    Their change of position from opposition to support of the war and
    their policy of branding as traitors those who opposed the war would
    have paralysed the party if they had been within it. As it was, the
    party entered the dark period of war repression armed with the
    ideological and organisational weapons needed for the tasks and
    problems it had to face.

    The Underground Period

    The Lanka Sama Samaja Party had from the start characterised the war
    as an imperialist war and opposed Ceylon’s participation in it. What
    this opposition to the war meant in practice was the prosecution of
    the class struggle in disregard of any adverse consequences that might
    result therefrorn to the war effort. Furthermore, Hitler was marking
    time in the winter of 1939-40 and the war had not yet started in real
    earnest. Consequently perhaps our imperialist rulers still felt they
    could ignore the Sama Samaja Party.

    However, the situation changed in the first half of 1940. On the one
    band, the Samasamajists were proving to be a definite hindrance to the
    war effort with their militant leadership of the plantation workers’
    struggles. The strikes in Uva took place in April-May 1940. And then
    came the fall of Paris on June 13th. Within a week the Government
    acted.

    Detention orders were issued on N.M. Perera, Philip Gunawardena,
    Colvin R. de Silva, Edmund Samarakkody and Leslie Goonewardene. The
    party press was raided and sealed. Regulations were promulgated which
    made open party work practically impossible. J.C.T. Kotelawala was
    party Secretary at the time.

    The party, however, was not caught napping. The cover organisation of
    the party, of which Doric de Souza and senanayake">Reggie Senanayake
    principally were in charge, had been active for some months.5 N.M.
    Perera, Philip Gunawardena and Colvin R. de Silva were arrested on
    June 18th and Edmund Samarakkody on June 19th. But Leslie Goonewardene
    on prior instructions of the party, evaded arrest and went
    underground. The cover organisation of the party enabled him, to work
    for a period of one year and three months till he left for India.
    Despite a prize offered for his capture all the efforts of the police
    to arrest him proved unsuccessful.

    The party press was sealed and guarded. But the “Samasamajaya”,
    printed at the secret party press and produced at first on a two-page
    sheet, began to appear. The Tamil and English illegal sheets also
    appeared at irregular intervals. Illegal leaflets too were
    distributed.

    On June 23rd a mass meeting called by the party to protest against the
    arrests of the party leaders and held despite a police ban, was broken
    up by the police. Eleven people, including Selina Perera, Reggie
    Perera and Boyd Wickremasinghe, were arrested and charged in this
    connection.

    While on the one hand repression was being unleashed in this manner
    against the Samasamajists for the opposition to the war, it might be
    noted in parenthesis that the State Council assembled on June 27th and
    passed without a single dissentient voice a vote of Rs. 5 million as a
    contribution to the war effort or the Imperial Government. It should
    be added however that in 1941 when Mr George E. de Silva brought a
    resolution in the State Council demanding the release of the
    Samasamajist detenus, the resolution was only just defeated, 14 voting
    for, 15 voting against and 8 declining to vote.

    The reorganisation of the party in a manner suitable to the new,
    illegal conditions went forward. Special mention should be made of the
    indefatigable work under the most trying conditions of Henry Peiris
    who was the editor of “Samasamajaya ”during the entire illegal
    period.6 On April 20th 1941, a secret conference, attended by 42
    delegates, was held. Leslie Goonewardene, who was in hiding, also
    attended this conference at which the new programme and constitution
    were adopted.

    The party actively participated in the strike wave of the urban
    workers which commenced in May 1941 and affected the workers of the
    Colombo Harbour, Granaries, Wellawatte Mills, Gas Company, Colombo
    Municipality and Fort-Mount Lavinia bus route. This openly functioning
    section of the party was led by Robert Gunawardena, S.C.C.
    Anthonipillai, V. Karalasingham, K.V. Lourenz Perera and William
    Silva. A legal Sinhalese weekly, “Kamkaruwa”, was published to aid
    these struggles, till the paper was ultimately banned by Admiral
    Layton. The English paper “Straight Left ”was also published in this
    period.

    In mid-1941 the war between the Soviet Union and Germany broke out, as
    a result of Hitler’s treacherous attack. But the Lanka Sama Samaja
    Party stuck firmly to the view that this did not alter the imperialist
    character of the war waged by Britain against Germany (and later along
    with the United States against Italy and Japan as well). It held that
    support of the war and postponement of the struggle for independence
    not only would constitute a betrayal of the struggle against
    imperialism but also would, in the last resort, be not to the
    advantage of the Soviet Union itself.

    Escape from Jail

    A sensation was caused throughout the country when on the night of
    April 7th 1942 the four detenus escaped from jail along with one of
    their jail guards, by name Solomon. Subsequent official inquiries were
    unable to establish how this jail-break succeeded. Today, 18 years
    later, there is no harm in making public the fact that this was not
    the first occasion when the detenus had left the jail. On two previous
    occasions also they had left the jail in the night for all night
    consultations with the party and had returned to jail before dawn. On
    this occasion, however, there was no return.

    As was to be expected, the repression was intensified after the
    jail-break. Up to now, although the Lanka Sama Samaja Party had been
    compelled in practice to work as an illegal organisation, it had not
    been formally illegalised. It was now declared to be an illegal
    organisation. A new wave of arrests took place. Among those
    immediately arrested and detained under the Defence Regulations were
    Jack Kotelawala, Terence N. de Zilva, Willie Jayatilleke, P.
    Veluchamy, H.A.C. Wickremaratne, Boyd Wickremasinghe, Martin Silva and
    Stanley Mendis. There were, of course, many others arrested and
    charged for specific offences.

    A large number of other warrants for arrest and detention were made,
    and with the failure to find the wanted persons, in addition to the
    detenus who had escaped, the following also were proclaimed and
    attachment of their property ordered: Leslie Goonewardene and his wife
    Vivienne Goonewardene, Selina Perera (wife of N.M. Perera), Kusuma
    Gunawardena (wife of Philip Gunawardena), Robert Gunawardena, Reggie
    Senanayake, Reggie Perera, V. Karalasingham, P.H. William Silva,
    S.C.C. Anthonipillai, Lionel D. Cooray and K.V. Lourenz Perera. Many
    of these people were subsequently arrested and detained.

    Soon after the jail-break, the detenus left illegally for India, with
    the exception of Edmund Samarakkody, who stayed behind. At this time,
    the struggle for independence was brewing in India, and many other
    warranted party members also left for India to participate in the
    struggle. For, it was generally realised that the impending open
    revolt against imperialism in India was going to be decisive for the
    future not only of India but of Ceylon as well.

    Formation of the Bolshevik Leninist Party of India

    It should also be mentioned that for some time past the party had been
    in touch with Trotskyist groups in various parts of India, and had
    been playing an important part in bringing them together. Preparatory
    work had been done in this connection by V. Balasingham,7 Doric de
    Souza, Bernard Soysa and later Leslie Goonewardene. In April 1942, the
    Bolshevik Leninist Party of India was formed, as a section of the 4th
    International, with the Lanka Sama Samaja Party as its Ceylon unit,

    This organisational connection was to continue for some years till,
    after the transfer of power in India in 1947 and in Ceylon in 1948,
    such an organisational connection ceased to have any meaning. The
    Ceylon party then became a directly affiliated section of the Fourth
    International.

    The Ceylonese Samasamajists who went to India participated actively
    along with the Bolshevik Leninist Party, in the struggle for
    independence that commenced in August 1942 in India. Some of them
    underwent great hardships. A case in point is that of Hector
    Abeywardena who, released on parole from detention in Ceylon, crossed
    over to India disguised as a Christian priest, and later nearly died
    of smallpox in a remote village in Gujerat.

    In 1943 the Indian police succeeded in arresting a number of the
    Samasamajists in India. Philip Gunawardena, his wife Kusuma and their
    infant child were arrested in Bombay and were kept in Worli jail for
    several weeks before being sent to Ceylon. N.M. Perera was arrested in
    Ahmedabad. Bernard Soysa spent 50 days in the Bombay police lock-up
    before being sent to Ceylon. Others arrested in 1943 were Lionel
    Cooray in Bombay and Robert Gunawardena, Reggie Senanayake and the
    ex-jail guard Solomon in Madras. V. Karalasingham, Allan Mendis, Doric
    de Souza, and S.C.C. Anthonipillai were arrested and detained much
    later. S.C.C. Anthonipillai and Allan Mendis were released from an
    Indian jail only in 1946, a year after the conclusion of the war.
    Colvin R. de Silva, Leslie Goonewardene, Vivienne Goonewardene and
    Selina Perera succeeded in evading arrest up to the end.

    The arrested Ceylonese were ultimately brought back to Ceylon and
    placed in the detention jail at Badulla. Robert Gunawardena, whose leg
    had been broken by the Indian police while attempting to escape from
    custody, was admitted to the General Hospital, Colombo, where he was
    chained to his bed and also guarded day and night. N.M. Perera, Philip
    Gunawardena and Edmund Samarakkody, who had been arrested in Ceylon,
    were charged in 1944 with escaping from jail and sentenced to 6 months
    rigorous imprisonment.

    Tribute should be paid to the numbers of unnamed Samasamajists who
    underwent imprisonment, police persecution and hardship in the war
    period. It is their revolutionary determination that kept the party
    going even in the darkest days. Special mention should be made of
    Hemasiri Silva and Daniel Weerasena who were sentenced to 6 years and
    7 years imprisonment respectively. P.A.E. Perera, publisher of the
    “Samasamajaya”, was warranted and went into hiding. Ill, he entered
    hospital unknown. And dying there, his last words were “Long live the
    Revolution! Tell Comrade Robert!”

    No account of the war period would be complete without something being
    said of the work of a group of worker members who concentrated their
    activities on organising the workers and giving them a militant
    leadership at a time when the Stalinists with every encouragement from
    the imperialists, were building their trade unions on the basis of
    support of the war effort. Needless to say, this type of work was very
    difficult. Being semi-open, it had to be conducted in constant danger
    of police raids and arrests.

    This group was led by G.P. Perera (better known as Elephant Perera
    because of his leadership in 1942 of a 3 months’ struggle of the
    workers of the Elephant cigarette company along with Selina Perera),
    and included among others T.W.R. (Rathu) Wijesinghe,8 W.J. (Hospital)
    Perera, J. Wanigatunga, Thiratnadasa (Bappa), George Perera (Chumbi),
    Samarawickrama, Ariyadasa, Kasi Udayam, David Perera (Hoare David)9
    and Krishnan. It led several strikes including the hospital workers’
    general strike of 1944, and was responsible for the party capturing
    the leadership of the government workers’ unions in Colombo.

    With the conclusion of the war against Germany, public pressure for
    the release of the detenus increased, and on May 30, 1945 the State
    Council passed a resolution, moved by Mr A.P. Jayasuriya, recommending
    the unconditional release of the detenus. On this occasion only two
    British nominated members voted against. However, the detenus were not
    to be released at once. At first efforts m ere made to persuade them
    to sign conditions. The detenus stoutly refused to give any such
    undertaking. Finally, it was after a two-day hunger strike by the
    detenus on June 18-19 that they were unconditionally released on June
    24.

    Some of the detenus had been released earlier on grounds of health,
    while some were under detention in hospital, When the gates of the
    Badulla detention prison were opened. those who still remained inside
    were N.M. Perera, Philip Gunawardena, Terence N. de Zylva, William
    Silva, H.A.C. Wickramaratne, Willie Jayatilleke, Reggie Perera, Martin
    Silva, P. Veluchamy, S. Kulatilleke, B. Waidyasekera and S.B. Peiris.
    Colvin R. de Silva, Leslie Goonewardene and Vivienne Goonewardene only
    returned to Ceylon in November, after the conclusion of the war with
    Japan, when warrants against them were withdrawn. Selina Perera stayed
    back to work in India as also did Anthonipillai.

    The released detenus were bailed as heroes and given receptions
    throughout the country. The Lanka Sama Samaja Party, which its enemies
    had thought had been smashed by the repression, now emerged stronger
    than ever before and with a tremendous prestige.

    Chapter 3 – 1945 to 1950

    The Post War Upsurge

    As happened after the First World War so also after the Second,
    resentment against the sufferings and privations of as well as the new
    lessons learned from the experiences of the war years led in most
    countries to a powerful upsurge of the mass movement. Ceylon was no
    exception. Although the upsurge did not reach revolutionary heights as
    in several countries, the pent-up feelings of the masses burst forth
    in a variety of ways with the relaxation of the repressive
    restrictions of the war period.,

    The Lanka Sama Samaja Party played an important part giving guidance
    and direction to this upsurge. To be sure the biggest upsurge was in
    the working class movement. But it would be a mistake to suppose that
    this awakening was confined to the workers. It manifested itself in
    various ways among all sections of the common people.

    The peasant cultivators of the countryside were chafing under the
    war-time regulation under which they were compelled to sell their
    surplus paddy to Government at the rate of Rs. 8/- per bushel. The
    Lanka Sama Samaja Party was quick to place itself behind the demand
    for the abolition of this war-time practice and for the raising of the
    price of a bushel of paddy. In late 1945 under its leadership there
    was organised the All-Ceylon Peasant Congress which conducted an
    agitation in the rural areas on this question. The Hewagam Korale
    branch of this organisation launched a direct action struggle under
    which peasant cultivators refused to hand over their paddy to
    Government. Court action was filed against hundreds and some went to
    jail. In 1946 the Congress organised a peasant march to the State
    Council, which was a success. It was after this agitation that the
    then Minister of Agriculture, Mr D.S. Senanayake substituted the
    system of purchase of paddy by CAP Societies for the old system of
    compulsory collections by Government.

    It was also in this period that there occurred the free education
    struggle. In the middle of 1945 the State Council had adopted the Free
    Education Bill brought by the then Minister of Education, Mr C.W.W.
    Kannangara. While the Lanka Sama Samaja Party certainly cannot claim
    credit for this piece of legislation it might be noted that, in spite
    of the disability of illegality, the party was not behind the times
    even on this question. While in jail in 1944 N.M. Perera wrote a small
    book entitled “Free Education ”which urged the adoption of a system of
    free education in Ceylon.

    Under the Bill, the managements of the various schools were given the
    option of coming into the scheme. While most schools came into the
    scheme, some chose to continue as fee-levying schools. There were a
    number of strikes of students in such schools (supported by the common
    people of the area) to compel the managements to enter the scheme and
    provide a free education for the children. The LSSP participated
    actively in this movement.

    The existing State Council had been elected as far back as 1936 and
    had long since ceased to be representative of the people. With the
    example of Britain and other countries holding elections even before
    the conclusion of the war, the case for an immediate general election
    in Ceylon was unanswerable. The leaders of the Ceylonese bourgeoisie,
    however, showed no appreciation of this need. The party accordingly
    placed itself at the head of the agitation for an immediate
    dissolution of the unrepresentative State Council and for fresh
    elections.

    It was in this immediate post-war period, too, that the United
    National Party was started. Hitherto the Ceylonese bourgeoisie had
    utilised the Ceylon National Congress as their political instrument.
    However, Mr D.S. Senanayake, the most powerful leader of the Ceylonese
    capitalists, had left the Ceylon National Congress in the period of
    the war as a protest against the decision of the Congress at that time
    to admit the Stalinists into its fold. Further, the Ceylon National
    Congress had long since been a Sinhalese organisation, where as Mr
    Senanayake saw the need for having a national party including also the
    Tamils in order to increase his bargaining power in the forthcoming
    discussions with the British Government on constitutional reforms. And
    finally there was also the fact that the Ceylon National Congress,
    discredited in the eyes of the public, had been reduced almost to an
    empty shell. Accordingly, under the leadership of Mr D.S. Senanayake
    the United National Party was launched in June 1946 in preparation for
    the General Election which was fixed for 1947.

    The Lanka Sama Samaja Party unhesitatingly characterised the new party
    as the political party of the Ceylonese bourgeoisie. It further
    described it as an agency of imperialism in Ceylon and warned the
    masses against placing the slightest trust in it. As the Lanka Sama
    Samaja Party had been the only political party in Ceylon to oppose the
    war of the imperialists, so also it was the only party in Ceylon in
    this period to call upon the masses to fight intransigently against
    the United National Party as the arch enemy of the people.10

    From that time up to now, the Lanka Sama Samaja Party can proudly lay
    claim to having been, of all political parties, the most consistent
    and determined opponent of the United National Party.

    Working Class Struggles

    The end of the War Saw a wave of workers’ strikes. On September 19th
    1945 there was a spontaneous strike of 10,000 Colombo workers who
    demanded to see the Board of Ministers. After a prolonged tramways
    strike, the strike spread to the harbour and other places in November.
    In these initial actions, most of the workers who participated
    belonged to unions affiliated to the Ceylon Trade Union Federation,
    controlled by the Communist Party. However, the political line of the
    Communist Party prevented them from giving a militant lead to the
    workers. Their role in these actions was generally the tailist one of
    trying to get the workers back on the promise of some minor
    concession.

    On November 22nd the Samasamajist-led union of motor workers launched
    its island-wide bus strike. N.M. Perera, Philip Gunawardena, Somaweera
    Chandrasiri, W.J. Perera, George Perera and Leslie Goonewardene (who
    had just returned to Ceylon from India) were arrested and prosecuted
    for supporting a strike in an essential service. The strike was a
    success, and the most stubbornly anti-union section of the capitalists
    in Ceylon, namely, the bus owners, were compelled to make important
    concessions.

    In this early post-war period the Lanka Sama Samaja re-commenced its
    trade union activity in cooperation with the Workers’ and Peasants’
    Union of A. Gunasakera who at that time was the leader of a group
    known as the Radical Party.11 The Ceylon Federation of Labour, which
    had been registered as a federation of unions by this group, was taken
    over by the Samasamajists. Unorganised workers sought unionisation
    under party leadership. Important unions, such as the Harbour and Dock
    Workers Union, were formed as a result of the militant leadership
    given by the LSSP in the course of strikes. In the Jaffna peninsula,
    the organisations of all the bus workers and other sections of
    workers, under the leadership of C. Tharmakulasingham, came over to
    the LSSP, giving the party for the first time a working class base in
    the North.12 And finally several unions which had accepted the
    leadership of the Communist Party during the war came over to the
    Samasamajists.

    In a bid to avert the great struggle of the Government workers that
    was preparing under the leadership of the LSSP-led Government Workers’
    Trade Union Federation, in December 1945 the Government voted an extra
    Rs. 6 million to increase the wages of Government workers. But this
    altered nothing.

    In 1946 at the tail end of a stubborn two months old of the bank
    clerks, the first General Strike took place. On October 16th the
    Government workers struck. The railway strike was well-nigh complete
    and of itself brought many establishments to a standstill. The strike
    was soon extended to the Harbour, the Gas Company, Municipal workers
    and various private firms. The official figure given by the Government
    of the number of strikers was only 24,000. But the real figure was
    probably twice as large. The Lanka Sama Samaja Party, controlling as
    it did the unions of the Government workers, who were the backbone of
    the strike, was in effective leadership of the strike. But a central
    strike committee was formed to lead the strike, composed of
    representatives of all participating unions and parties.

    For several days the Government refused to negotiate. But when the
    strike continued with undiminished strength, gradually bringing
    economic life to a standstill, the Acting Governor on October 21st
    agreed to meet a deputation of the Government Workers’ Trade Union
    Federation. The deputation was permitted to bring along one adviser
    with them and the Federation chose N.M. Perera for this function.

    However, on the following day, shortly before the time fixed for the
    interview with the Acting Governor, N.M. Perera was arrested by the
    police, quite clearly for the purpose of preventing him from
    participating in the negotiations. The workers’ delegation went to
    Queen’s House and met the Acting Governor, but refused to come to a
    settlement in the absence of N.M. Perera. In the end N.M. Perera had
    to be released and negotiated a settlement together with the
    delegation of the Federation. The Government workers’ strike was
    settled on the promise of several important concessions. However, some
    of these promises were not honoured, and provided the reason for the
    Second General Strike of the following year. After this settlement,
    settlements were negotiated with the employers in other sectors.

    The conducting of the General Strike of 1946 enormously increased the
    prestige of the party generally and particularly among the workers. It
    accelerated greatly the process of integration of the party in the
    working class and its development into a working class party in the
    true sense of the word.

    The Second General Strike, taking place at the end of May and early
    June 1947, was not such a success and ended in defeat. It came about
    as a result of the broadening out of a strike of engineering workers,
    the government workers coming into the struggle because of the
    unfulfilled promises of the previous year. But the strike of the
    railway workers was not complete and the trains continued to run. On
    the other hand the Government clerks came out on strike under the
    leadership of their organisation, the Government Clerical Service
    Union. Also, the unions of the Communist-led Ceylon Trade Union
    Federation came out in greater strength than the previous year. As
    previously, a central strike committee was appointed to conduct the
    strike. However, on this occasion the attitude of the Government as
    well as private employers was much stiffer, and they refused to
    negotiate.

    On June 5th, a procession of several thousands of strikers, for which
    permission had been duly obtained, was proceeding with N.M. Perera at
    its head, when a large force of police barred its passage at
    Dematagoda and baton charged it. N.M. Perera was knocked down and
    beaten while on the ground. The police also fired 25 rounds into the
    demonstration, as a result of which 18 were injured and 1 killed. The
    martyr was V. Kandasamy, a Government clerk.

    This act of repression, while it roused the resentment of the masses
    generally, had a damping effect on the strike itself. After a few days
    most of the clerks had returned to work. The workers stuck out longer,
    but in the end sections of them too returned to work. Ultimately the
    strike was officially called off. The strike was not only a defeat, it
    was a smash-up. Thousands of Government clerks, Government workers and
    workers in private employment were victimised. A Public Security Bill
    giving the Government various repressive powers had also been rushed
    through the State Council in the latter days of the strike.

    After the defeat of the General Strike of 1947 the trade union
    movement entered a period of ebb. This slump was to continue for some
    years. As it had done on the occasion of the formation of the United
    National Party, so also in this situation the Lanka Sama Samaja Party
    correctly discharged its responsibility to the mass movement. While
    drawing the political lessons of the defeat, it warned the workers
    against adventurist struggles and explained that this was now a period
    in which the workers had patiently to rebuild their shattered
    organisations in preparation for the next wave of struggles.13

    The Split in the LSSP

    In the latter period of the war, after the escape of the leaders from
    jail in 1942, a faction struggle developed within the party. There
    were no differences in regard to programme or policy. The differences
    centred mainly around organisational questions. One faction called
    itself the Bolshevik-Leninist faction and declared that the other
    faction was attempting to dilute the party and convert it into a loose
    organisation. The other faction, calling itself the Workers
    Opposition, declared that the party machine had been captured by a
    group of intellectuals who were obstructing the expansion of the party
    among the working class.

    After the release of the leaders from jail and the re-commencement of
    open mass activity the split became open, and two groups began to
    function in the name of the Lanka Sama Samaja Party. While N.M.
    Perera, Philip Gunawardena, and Robert Gunawardena were among those
    who associated themselves with one group, Doric de Souza, Edmund
    Samarakkody, Bernard Soysa and William Silva were among those who
    associated themselves with the other group. The Bolshevik Leninist
    Party of India, of which the LSSP was a unit, continued to recognise
    as its Ceylon unit the organisation with which it had maintained
    contact throughout the war years, and on October 8th 1945 took the
    step of expulsion of N.M. Perera and Philip Gunawardena from the
    party. When this decision was announced in the newspapers on behalf of
    the Bureau of the Bolshevik Leninist Party of India by a letter signed
    by Colvin R. de Silva and Leslie Goonewardene, the split in Ceylon
    became definitive, and for the time being not capable of healing.

    The split in the LSSP was very unfortunate and prevented the LSSP from
    reaping the full benefits of a period in which the general popularity
    and prestige of the Samasamajists was very high after its principled
    and fearless opposition to imperialism in the war years. This fact
    was, indeed, realised generally, and a short-lived attempt at unity
    was made at the end of 1946 which failed after a few months. However,
    one gain achieved during this short period of unity was the nomination
    of candidates for the forthcoming, General Election, Fortunately both
    parties adhered to this list of candidates, so that no clash occurred
    between the two Trotskyist parties in the general election of 1947.

    Some time after the failure of this early attempt at reunification,
    the LSSP which was recognised by the BLPI, realising the confusion
    arising from two parties using the same name, and recognising that the
    other and larger party was considered in fact by the masses to be the
    Lanka Sama Samaja Party, decided to change its name to Bolshevik
    Samasamaja Party.

    The months and years that followed, however, only demonstrated that
    there were absolutely no principled political differences between the
    two organisations and that this division in the ranks of the
    Trotskyists was not only being exploited by rivals in the political
    field but was proving a distinct advantage to the class enemy. The
    Gampaha by-election in 1949, in which both the Trotskyist parties
    contested, led not only to an easy victory for the United National
    Party, but to unfortunate physical clashes between the two Trotskyist
    parties. The desire for unity grew in both parties, and in early 1950
    a joint council of both parties was set up, to co-ordinate the public
    activities or both parties with the perspective of unification within
    a period of six months.

    Before the middle of the year the Lanka Sama Samaja Party by a
    majority decision and the Bolshevik Samasamaja Party unanimously
    decided to unify under the name of Lanka Sama Samaja Party and at a
    Joint Conference held on June 4th 1950 formal unification was
    achieved. T.B. Subasinghe was elected Secretary.

    Unfortunately many of those who had voted in the LSSP against the
    unification proposal split away and under the leadership of Philip
    Gunawardena set themselves up as a separate organisation using the
    same name. The capitalist press, which has always opposed the party,
    utilised the situation to try to give the party a new name, namely
    Nava (New) Lanka Sama Samaja Party, in order to create the impression
    that it was a new party and not the Lanka Sama Samaja Party. History,
    however, has long since given its verdict on this question. And the
    verdict has been against the editors of the capitalist newspapers.

    The 1947 Elections

    The 1947 General Election was held under the new Soulbury
    Constitution. Held from August 23rd to September 20th that year, it
    took the shape of a struggle against the United National Party. The
    United National Party for its part, recognising in the LSSP its
    principal enemy, concentrated its attack on the Samasamajists. Huge
    posters depicting burning temples, churches or mosques declared: “Save
    the Country from the Samasamaja Fire. ”The main burden of UNP
    propaganda was that the Samasamajists would destroy religion.

    The masses, however, closed their ranks in a struggle to defeat the
    UNP. Even the Communist Party, which had entered the election campaign
    supporting the UNP against the LSSP, was compelled to modify its
    position.14

    A noticeable feature of the campaign was the enthusiastic manner in
    which particularly those workers who had participated in the General
    Strike a few months earlier threw themselves into the election
    struggle. The very defeat of their economic struggle appeared to have
    driven them to seek a political solution of their problems. Especially
    the demand for the reinstatement of the victimised workers in the
    General Strike played an important part in the election. This demand,
    in fact, continued to be an issue in all subsequent elections, up to
    and including the General Election of 1956.

    As stated earlier, the two Trotskyist parties did not clash, the
    division of seats arranged during the brief period of unity being
    adhered to by both organisations. Both parties contested a total of 38
    seats. The LSSP won 10 seats, while the other LSSP (which soon after
    the elections became the Bolshevik Samasamaja Party) won 5 seats. The
    UNP won 42 seats, the CP 3, the Ceylon Indian Congress 7, the Tamil
    Congress 7, and Independents 20. The LSSP thus emerged as the second
    largest party, next to the UNP.

    The result or the election had not really been a victory for the UNP.
    Although it had won 42 out of a total of 95 elected seats, it did not
    seem possible for it to obtain a working majority. The situation was
    really resolved by the Governor, who called upon Mr D.S. Senanayake to
    form the government. With 6 nominated members added to the UNP figure,
    the total came to 48, and after that it was not difficult to get the
    support of several Independents, and later of the Tamil Congress.

    In the Parliament of 1947 the role of leadership of the Opposition
    devolved in fact on the LSSP as the second largest party. However, it
    was not till the unification of the two Trotskyist parties in 1950
    that it was possible, with the cooperation of the MPs of the Bolshevik
    Samasamaja Party which was then obtained, to secure for the leader of
    the LSSP Parliamentary Group the official position of Leader of the
    Opposition in Parliament.

    In the election of Senators by the House the LSSP was able to secure
    the election of W.K. Jinadasa, and the BSP of D.W.J. Perera as
    senators. It is worthy of note that the first motion moved by D.W.J.
    Perera in the Senate was a motion calling for the abolition of that
    body!

    The new mass position gained by the LSSP in the post-war period
    brought with it its own organisational problems. We had remarked
    earlier that during the war the party had altered its constitution so
    as to limit its membership to those who engaged in some regular
    activity as members of a party group or organisation. On the other
    hand this raised the problem of maintaining adequate contact with a
    very wide layer of conscious supporters of the party both in town and
    countryside. The party organisation was far too small for this task.

    A solution to this problem was found in practice by the form of
    organisation called the Sama Samaja Youth League. This is a peripheral
    organisation of the party and is composed of people who accept the
    leadership of the party but do not have to conform to the strict rules
    which apply to party membership. These leagues are formed on a
    territorial basis and establish close ties with the people of the area
    by taking up local issues.

    The first conference of these Youth Leagues was held in 1949 when
    Philip Gunawardena was elected President and Basil Silva Secretary of
    the All-Island Congress of Sama Samaja Youth Leagues. These youth
    leagues were first formed principally from the members of the peasant
    organisation to which we had occasion to refer earlier. After the
    unification of the two Trotskyist parties in 1950 this Sama Samaja
    Youth League movement grew by leaps and bounds with a wide network
    reaching even remote parts of the country. It must be stated that in
    all political struggles that have taken place in the past ten years,
    whether they be election struggles or direct struggles like the Great
    Hartal of 1953, the Youth Leagues have played an exceedingly important
    role and have served as the main link between the party and the
    masses.

    Chapter 4 – Ebb and Revival

    Consolidation of the Right

    The years following 1947 witnessed a consolidation of the forces of
    the Right under the leadership of the UNP and a stagnation of the mass
    movement. There were several reasons for this.

    In the first place, in February 1948 there occurred the transfer of
    power by the British. Ceylon acquired the status of a Dominion by the
    Governor becoming a constitutional head without arbitrary powers and
    the Ceylon Parliament becoming a sovereign body. This change of policy
    on the part of British Imperialism had been brought about by the mass
    struggles for independence that had taken place in the countries of
    South East Asia and more particularly in the neighbouring British
    possessions of India and Burma. The bourgeois leaders of Ceylon
    represented the matter as evidence of the success of their policy of
    cooperation with the imperialists. Whether the people accepted this
    explanation or not the fact remained that political power had indeed
    been transferred to Ceylon, and this helped to strengthen the UNP.15

    In the second place, the boom conditions, particularly in relation to
    rubber, that came during the years of the Korean War, placed the
    Government in a financially good position and enabled it to grant many
    concessions to the masses in this period. The reduction in the price
    of rationed rice to 25 cents a measure in 1951 and the increase in the
    price paid by the Government to the peasants for their paddy, from Rs.
    8/- to Rs. 9/- a bushel in 1951, and from Rs. 9/- to Rs. 12/- in 1952,
    are deserving of special mention.

    Finally it should be noted that in this period for the first time in
    Ceylon’s history there was built a bourgeois party with a mass
    following. The Ceylonese bourgeoisie, which is predominantly a
    plantation bourgeoisie, had slept during the war years when its big
    brother in India was leading an oppositional movement to imperialism.
    It was awakened only after the war when it saw the upsurge of the
    masses with the Samasamajists in the vanguard and instinctively
    recognised the threat that this represented to its very existence.
    Earlier, the bourgeois leaders of Ceylon, distrustful and a little
    afraid of the masses, had generally avoided mass political meetings.
    Now they began to compete with the Leftists in open air rallies, even
    though in most cases the masses had to be provided with free transport
    to attend them. Mass membership drives were made, and a streamlined
    electoral machine was set up. The lack of self-sacrifice in the rank
    and file workers was compensated for by the funds which national and
    foreign capitalists were only too ready to contribute. The Ceylonese
    bourgeoisie, scared into activity by the “Red Danger”, and utilising
    all the advantages that accrued to it from being in control of the
    state machine, built the United National Party as the bastion of
    capitalist and imperialist interests in Ceylon. They were also
    responsible for the many reactionary features of the Soulbury
    Constitution which loaded the dice against working class parties in
    parliamentary politics.

    It was in this period too that the Government introduced a series of
    repressive legislative and administrative measures calculated to
    cripple the mass movement and the workers’ movement in particular.
    Even before the elections of 1947, towards the end of the unsuccessful
    General Strike of that year, the Government had rushed through the
    Public Security Ordinance and the Police Amendment Ordinance. Soon
    after, in the early period of the first Parliament, the notorious
    administrative regulation 208 B, which placed a ban on all public
    servants engaging in political activity of any sort, was passed. In
    1948 an amendment to the Trade Union Act placed a number of
    restrictions on the trade unions of public servants, including even a
    denial of their right to form a federation of unions of such public
    servants. Soon after, came the Citizenship Acts and an amendment to
    the Constitution which denied the franchise to several hundreds of
    thousands of plantation workers of Indian origin who had exercised the
    vote since 1931, and imposed such conditions as made it impossible for
    all but a small fraction of these workers to obtain Ceylon
    citizenship. Needless to say the Lanka Sama Samaja Party opposed all
    these repressive and anti-democratic measures of the Government.

    We noted earlier that the Trotskyist parties had united in 1950. This
    was an important occurrence. It gave new hope and courage to
    thousands. The united Lanka Sama Samaja Party grew in numbers,
    strengthened its organisation and expanded its activities. But all
    this could not reverse the historical ebb that was taking place. This
    was illustrated in the Balangoda by-election in April 1951, where the
    LSSP candidate fought the UNP candidate and was defeated by a very
    large majority.

    Nor was the situation materially altered by the split-away of Mr
    S.W.R.D. Bandaranaike and his group from the UNP in July 1951. The Sri
    Lanka Freedom Party was formed almost immediately afterwards as a
    Centre Party with a programme of moderate reforms. Whether the newly
    formed party broke more support from the Left or from the Right is a
    matter for speculation. But of this there can be no doubt. The
    split-away from the UNP did not succeed in reversing the general trend
    to the Right.

    The 1952 Elections

    It was in this context that the General Election of 1952 took place.
    With the sudden death of Mr D.S. Senanayake in March 1952 and the
    succession to the premiership of his son, Mr Dudley Senanayake, the
    latter decided to seek a mandate from the country, and fixed the
    General Election for May 24th, 26th, 28th and 30th.

    As early as November 1951 the LSSP had written to the SLFP asking for
    a meeting to discuss the elimination of contests in the General
    Election which was even at that time considered a distinct
    possibility. No reply was at the time received to this letter.
    However, with the dissolution of Parliament, representatives of the
    two parties met for the above-mentioned purpose. It was not found
    possible to avoid a number of clashes, and the discussions were,
    generally speaking, unsuccessful. But it was decided to issue a
    statement pointing out the quite large number of seats in which
    clashes had been avoided.

    Discussions with the Communist Party were even less successful. At
    this time the Communist Party was working in a united front called the
    CP-LSSP United Front, which had been formed with those LSSPers who,
    under the leadership of Philip Gunawardena, had split away at the time
    of the unification in 1950. The discussions with the CP-LSSP United
    Front consisted largely of an effort to see whether programmatic
    agreement was possible. This was found to be not possible.16

    The Party contested the elections with a 14-point anti-imperialist and
    anti-capitalist programme under the slogan of a Samasamaja Government.
    This slogan, however, did not have anything but a propaganda value,
    since only 40 seats were contested out of a total of 95. As for the
    UNP, realising that the issue of religion which they had raised in
    1947 would no longer work, except among the Catholics, they
    concentrated on the Indian question. Their main attack on the Left
    generally and the LSSP in particular was that the Samasamajists were
    pro-Indian and would betray Ceylon to India.

    The elections resulted in a big victory for the UNP, which won 54
    seats, thus obtaining a clear majority in Parliament. Whereas in the
    1947 elections 98 of its candidates had obtained 751,432 votes, in the
    1952 elections 81 candidates obtained 1,026,025 votes. The SLFP
    contested 48 seats, won 9 seats and obtained a little over 3 lakhs of
    votes. The LSSP contested 40 seats, won 9 seats, and obtained a little
    over 3 lakhs of votes, that is to say, practically the same number of
    votes as were obtained by the 38 candidates of both the Trotskyist
    parties in 1947. The CP-LSSP United Front contested 19 seats and won 4
    seats, obtaining 134,528 votes.

    Many reasons have been advanced to account for the victory of the UNP
    in 1952, such as the disfranchisement of nearly 200,000 workers of
    Indian origin, the clash between the anti-UNP parties of the Centre
    and Left, the better organisation of the UNP, and the sympathy for the
    new Prime Minister after the death of his father. While all these
    factors were present, some more important than others, it would be
    incorrect to ignore that the principal political factor was a
    noticeable turn to the Right on the part of the voters.

    The LSSP and the SLFP had each won 9 seats. But the position of
    Leadership of the Opposition which the LSSP had held in the first
    parliament, now went to the SLFP, the MPs of the CP-LSSP United Front
    backing the candidature of Mr S.W.R.D. Bandaranaike for this post.

    The UNP victory naturally had a dampening effect on the masses
    generally. It had repercussions within the party too, as we shall see
    later. Some of the weaker elements in the party began to wobble. A
    good example of this was the case of W. Dahanayake, MP for Galle (and
    later to become a Prime Minister of Ceylon) who had to be expelled
    from the party for indiscipline. He broke an express direction of the
    Central Committee by welcoming and garlanding the UNP Prime Minister,
    Mr Dudley Senanayake, on the occasion of his visit to Galle.

    The Great Hartal

    Soon after it came into power the UNP Government of 1952 found it
    necessary to impose certain burdens on the masses. The price of sugar
    was increased and a cut was made in the rice ration. The LSSP was not
    slow to take up these questions and conduct an agitation among the
    masses. As a protest against the cut in the rice ration N.M. Perera
    presented, as a first instalment, a petition with 50,000 signatures
    collected by the party and youth league organisations.

    In 1953 the UNP Government proceeded still further with its economy
    drive, placing all the burdens of its financial difficulties on the
    backs of the masses. Rail fares and postal rates were increased, the
    free mid-day bun given to school children was stopped, and most
    serious of all, the price of rationed rice was increased at one fell
    stroke from 25 cents to 70 cents a measure! Mass resentment was all
    the stronger against this last mentioned action because the masses
    remembered very well that one of the important propaganda points in
    the UNP election campaign of the previous year had been the fact that
    it was supplying rice at 25 cents a measure.

    The LSSP took the lead in the agitation against these measures.
    Meetings were held in all parts of the country, leaflets were
    distributed, and demonstrations were staged. Mass organisations and
    institutions like local bodies, feeling the pressure of the masses,
    began to pass resolutions demanding a reversal of these policies.

    When it became clear that the Government was not budging from its
    position, the LSSP took the lead in inviting the other anti-UNP
    parties to consider the question of direct action in the situation. At
    these discussions it was finally decided to call on the masses to
    observe a one-day hartal as a protest. On that day black flags would
    be hoisted, children would not go to school, employees would not go to
    work, shops would be closed, and people would generally desist from
    their normal pursuits, observing the day as a day of mourning. In the
    end, of all the political parties that had associated themselves with
    the agitation, in addition to the LSSP, only the CP-LSSP United Front
    and the Federal Party remained when it came to a question of action.
    The SLFP took the position that it was not opposed to the idea of a
    hartal in principle but was not convinced that the people of Ceylon
    had come to a stage when they could do such a thing. The Ceylon Indian
    Congress was prepared only to go as far as the holding of meetings on
    that day, but not to engage in strike action. Only the LSSP, the
    United Front and the Federal Party remained to conduct the action.
    But, with the support of the masses, this proved to be sufficient.

    Agitation was stepped up, an appropriate date was decided on and the
    trade unions and other mass organisations were prepared for action.
    The date finally decided on, namely, August 12th was not made public
    too early. The Government took counter-measures in an effort to
    intimidate the masses. State employees were warned that they would be
    dismissed if they did not turn up for work, cooperative stores were
    ordered to keep their doors open, the military were paraded on the
    streets to frighten the people, the government- owned radio as well as
    the capitalist press screeched their propaganda in an, effort. to
    discredit the campaign, and every pressure that could be brought to
    bear by the state machine and the capitalist class was utilised to
    make the hartal a failure. One capitalist newspaper actually went so
    far as to anticipate events by putting out its morning edition with a
    banner headline announcing “Work Goes on Today”.

    The hartal, of course, was an even greater success than had been
    anticipated. The workers struck, transport was disorganised, and
    economic life came to a standstill in the towns. In the rural areas,
    the masses set up road blocks and disorganised telegraphic
    communications. The strike in the plantation areas was partial on
    account of the non-participation of the Congress.

    The movement reached its height in the coastal areas of the Western
    and Southern Provinces. Under the leadership of Samasamajists, in
    Egoda Uyana the masses stopped and literally “captured ”a train, in
    Waskaduwa one mile of railway line was removed by men, women and
    children in the night, and in the Southern Province, boulders were
    rolled onto the roads by the people, which were so large that, after
    the hartal, the police had to use dynamite to blast them because they
    were too heavy to move. The hartal, planned for one day only was
    officially called off by the participating organisations the following
    morning.

    Let this be said to the credit of the masses. Violence they did use,
    in their wrathful protest against the Government which had cheated
    them. But this violence was directed, not against persons, but against
    inanimate objects such as railway lines, buses, telegraph posts and
    the like, in order to disrupt communications. In contrast to this, the
    violence of the Government was directed against persons. The police
    and military fired on the people, killing nine. In Gasworks Street,
    Colombo, young Edwin, a member of the Pettah Sama Samaja Youth League
    defied alone an order to disperse, opening his red shirt, baring his
    breast and inviting the military to shoot. This they did, and Edwin
    fell, riddled by bullets. He died on the way to hospital.

    Thousands were injured as a result or shootings and baton charges, or
    arrested and detained in jail. An Emergency along with a curfew was
    declared on the 12th afternoon, which lasted for several weeks. The
    printing presses of the LSSP and CP were sealed under the Emergency
    powers. And hundreds of cases were filed against individuals
    throughout the country.17

    But the masses had shown that they were not prepared to take the blows
    of the capitalist government lying down. In a period when the UNP
    Government appeared to be all-powerful, the masses had seen the power
    of their own strength. The Great Hartal marked the turning point in
    the ebb of the mass movement. It shattered the myth of the
    invincibility of the UNP and prepared the ground for the defeat of
    that party in the elections of 1956. Further, the hartal was the first
    mass political struggle in Ceylon. It revealed the revolutionary
    strength of the masses and helped to reinforce the self-confidence of
    revolutionists.

    The Lanka Sama Samaja Party will always be justly proud of the role
    that it played in the hartal. Eschewing sectarianism it sought and
    obtained the cooperation of all those prepared to join the struggle,
    and the hartal was called in the name of the Joint Committee of all
    those organisations. There is no gainsaying, however, that in the
    action itself, the effective leadership was in the hands of the LSSP.
    Specially heroic was the role of the thousands of Samasamaja Youth
    Leaguers who led the militant actions of the masses in town and
    countryside on August 12th.

    The Split of 1953

    After the decisive victory of the UNP in 1952 moods of discouragement
    began to grow in the party. This was also a time when the victory of
    the Chinese Revolution had evoked a tremendous admiration throughout
    South East Asia. In this situation the political ideas of Stalinism
    commenced once again to gain ground within the party. The first sign
    of this appeared at the Special Conference of October 1952.18

    At this conference a minority resolution sponsored, among others, by
    T.B. Subasinghe, Henry Peiris and William Silva, declared that in the
    elections the party should have put forward the slogan of a Democratic
    Government which would have meant “at its lowest level a Bandaranaike
    Government ”and “at its highest level a Government by a Sama Samaja
    majority”. It also took the position that the party should “enter into
    the closest possible agreement and cooperation with the CP and Philip
    Group in the trade union and political fields”.

    This resolution was defeated at the Conference, which decided that the
    party should strive for a “united front with the CP, the Philip
    Gunawardena group and the CP ”not on a comprehesive political
    programme but “on a programme related to the present needs and
    consciousness of the masses”. With regard to non-working class parties
    like the SLFP, the Republican Party and the Federal Party, it was
    decided that the attempt should be to draw them into united action on
    specific issues.

    In line with the decisions of the Conference the party conducted
    united front talks with the CP-LSSP United Front in 1953. The talks
    failed in July of that year because the Lanka Sama Samaja Party was
    not prepared to give up its right to criticise the Government of the
    USSR, the Eastern European countries and China, when it considered
    such criticism was necessary in the interest of the working class
    movement. In spite of the failure of the negotiations the party
    decided to work for united action wherever this was possible.

    It was clear, however, that the difference in the party was growing,
    and arrangements were made for the resolution of the question through
    a party conference after a thorough discussion in the party of two
    resolutions stating the two points of view. All that happened in this
    connection demonstrates very well the democratic methods of
    functioning which have become a tradition of the LSSP.

    Articles in support both of the resolution of the leadership and that
    of the “opposition ”were freely published in the Internal Bulletins
    which were distributed to the entire membership. Discussions were
    organised in the party locals, a representative of one side going on
    one day and of the other side on another day, to explain the two
    different points of view. And at the Conference itself held in October
    1953 equal time was apportioned to the speakers of each side.

    The resolution of the Political Bureau on the national situation was
    passed, receiving 259 votes, while the minority resolution was lost,
    receiving 125 votes, Thereupon, the supporters of the minority led by
    William Silva walked out of the Conference, splitting away from the
    party. In other words, the democratic process had worked so completely
    that those who had differences of a fundamental nature with the party
    realised this themselves and left of their own accord.

    The party lost a third of its membership in that split, and its
    enemies gleefully imagined that the Lanka Sama Samaja Party would not
    recover from the blow. But as in the past, so also on this occasion,
    the Lanka Sama Samaja Party showed that this was far from the case. To
    be sure, on account of the split the party was unable to reap the full
    benefits, politically and organisationally, of its role in the hartal
    of August 12th, 1953. But within a year the party had made up its
    losses, demonstrating that the Lanka Sama Samaja Party is not just
    another party, but fulfils a definite historical need of the mass
    movement in Ceylon.

    In contrast with the rapid revival of the LSSP, what happened to those
    who split away? They tried to hold together, but they succeeded in
    doing this only for a short time. It was not long before they
    scattered. Eventually some of them went into the organisation of
    Philip Gunawardena, others into the Communist Party, while yet others
    left politics or steered clear of affiliation to any political party.

    1953-1955

    The period from 1953 onwards saw a gradual revival in many fields. In
    the local government elections of 1954 the party for the first time
    participated in a large way, and was able to assume the administration
    in 7 Village Committees, 3 Urban Councils and the Colombo Municipal
    Council.

    Unfortunately, in the local government elections even a No-Contest
    agreement could not be obtained with CP-LSSP United Front. As far back
    as June 1952 the LSSP had taken the initiative in trying to get the
    United Front to fight the then impending Colombo Municipal Council
    elections on a joint programme with the LSSP. All local government
    elections were, however, postponed at that time by the UNP Government.
    However, even in the 1954 elections it was not possible to come to any
    agreement because of the insistence of the United Front that full
    political agreement should be arrived at.

    One of the results of this attitude was that even when N.M. Perera
    became Mayor of the Colombo Municipal Council in August 1954, the
    cooperation of the Municipal Councillors of the CP-LSSP United Front
    was not forthcoming. On the other hand, the UNP Government pursued a
    policy of obstruction in relation to the Mayor, and not much positive
    result could be achieved. After a little over a year, with the
    crossing over of a CP Municipal Councillor to the side of the UNP, the
    Mayoralty went to the UNP.

    It was in this period commencing from 1954 that the mercantile
    employees embarked on a series of well organised struggles in which
    the recalcitrant Employers’ Federation was compelled to negotiate and
    grant concessions. These struggles reached their high-point in the
    General Strike of Mercantile employees of March 1956, just prior to
    the General Elections. These successful actions did much to revive the
    confidence of the workers and pave the way for stable unions capable
    of real collective bargaining.

    The wresting of the leadership of the Ceylon Mercantile Union away
    from the labour boss, Mr Goonesinghe, was accomplished after the
    General Strike of 1947. In this process, as well as the subsequent
    building of this union into one of the most powerful trade unions in
    Ceylon, the role of P.B. Tampoe deserves mention.

    Since the war, the party had agitated for the establishment of
    diplomatic and trade relations with the socialist countries, and the
    China-Ceylon Rice and Rubber Agreement that was concluded in 1952
    constituted a victory for this policy. In 1953 the party conducted an
    agitation for the conducting of this trade entirely through state
    channels.

    In 1954 the party established relations with the Asian Socialist
    Conference and Colvin R. de Silva attended the meeting of the Bureau
    of that organisation in Tokyo as a fraternal delegate. However, this
    connection was destined to be short-lived. When the Asian Socialist
    Bureau insisted on the party disaffiliating itself from the 4th
    International as a condition for the continuation of this connection,
    the party politely but firmly informed that organisation in March 1955
    that this was out of the question.

    The party contested the Alutnuwara by-election in May 1955. The UNP
    won the seat. But in spite of the backwardness of the area and the
    fact that both the SLFP and CP also contested, the party acquitted
    itself creditably, coming second.19

    The CP-LSSP United Front brok up into its two component parts at the
    beginning of 1955 as a result of internal dissensions. The party
    signed a united front agreement with the LSSP led by Philip
    Gunawardena in April 1955, under which the two organisations agreed to
    cooperate to the maximum extent possible. A joint council was set up
    hnd a united May Day rally was held. But the agreement was not to
    last. With the failure, later in the year, to come to an agreement on
    the allocation of seats for the forthcoming General Election, the
    agreement died a natural death.

    Chapter 5 – The New Era

    The Language Question

    1956 saw the dawn of a new era. This new period was characterised not
    only by an increased consciousness among the masses with regard to
    their economic rights, but even more by a cultural renaissance among
    the Sinhalese. This renaissance took the form principally of an effort
    to elevate the position of the Sinhala language in the state and
    society and also of an attempt to revive the customs, traditions and
    arts of the Sinhalese and to restore Buddhism to the place it had
    occupied in past history. Unfortunately, however, on the question of
    the Sinhala language, which was the most important question, the
    demand took the form of a movement to make Sinhala the sole official
    language to the exclusion of Tamil, which is spoken by quite
    considerable minority.

    In April 1955 the political resolution adopted at the Party Conference
    had stated as follows: “The potentiality of this new factor in our
    politics [the language problem] has not in fact been grasped by our
    party thus far. We have no doubt seen the swabasha question as a
    question of national unity, but we have not sufficiently grasped the
    necessity or the potentialities of advocating it in the form and as a
    means of the struggle for the completion of our national independence.
    The party will certainly have to take up the swabasha weapon much more
    as its own instead of leaving it in wrong and reactionary hands.”

    True, even after the Conference the party did not sufficiently grasp
    the importance of the question and make a determined effort to work
    according to the spirit of this resolution. But even if it had done
    so, to put it at its lowest, it is extremely doubtful that the party
    could have altered the course of subsequent events. For, the movement
    represented by “Sinhala Only ”became, not only a movement for raising
    the status of the Sinhala language to the status of an official
    language, but also a movement against the Tamil minority. This
    movement was fed not only by historical factors but also by economic
    competition between the two communities particularly in relation to
    jobs. The fact that no mass struggle for independence had taken place,
    fostering a common bond of Ceylonese consciousness in the two
    communities, made such a development all the easier.

    The natural leadership of this movement of cultural renaissance among
    the Sinhalese went to the SLFP, which in 1955 changed its language,
    policy from Sinhalese and Tamil as state languages to one of Sinhala
    as the sole official language. This leadership was further
    consolidated when, shortly before the General Election of 1956, the
    SLFP combined with the LSSP of Philip Gunawardena to form the Mahajana
    Eksath Peramuna.

    The Lanka Sama Samaja Party was the only party with a base among the
    Sinhalese that stood firmly right to the end by its policy of both
    Sinhala and Tamil as official languages. Even the Communist Party
    latterly changed its position on this question.

    In October 1955 a public meeting held by the party on this question in
    the Colombo Town Hall was attacked by a hostile crowd with brickbats
    and bombs, while the police stood by.20 The police finally moved into
    action only to baton charge and disperse those who were leaving the
    meeting after it had concluded. Both friend and foe have expressed
    their admiration of the party’s devotion to principle. But there is no
    gainsaying that the party has paid a heavy price for its stand. It
    lost heavily among the Sinhalese masses. And although it has won the
    sympathy of wide sections of the minorities this has far from
    compensated for the losses.

    The party’s position on the question of citizenship of workers of
    Indian origin on the plantations has also cost the party a price, but
    the effect of this has been principally in the up-country areas.
    However, the party has never ceased its opposition to the unjust
    citizenship laws, and has adhered to its position that those who are
    permanent residents who desire to make Ceylon their home should be
    granted citizenship. (The corollary of this is, of course, that the
    others should become Indian citizens, so that there is no category of
    “stateless ”people left.)

    As a revolutionary socialist party, the Lanka Sama Samaja Party could
    not have acted otherwise. For, as distinct from opportunist
    politicians to whom power is an end in itself, to the LSSP power is
    only a means to an end. That end is socialism. And it knows that
    socialism cannot be built except on the basis of the unity and willing
    cooperation of the masses of all the communities that inhabit Ceylon.
    And that unity and cooperation can only be achieved by a correct
    attitude to the problem of the minorities.

    The UNP Defeat of 1956

    Realising that the principal task facing the country in the
    forthcoming elections was the defeat of the United National Party, the
    party quite early took the initiative in calling for talks with the
    Sri Lanka Freedom Party, and in September 1955 a No-Contest Pact was
    signed between the LSSP and the SLFP, In accordance with the situation
    prevailing in the country a majority of seats was assigned to the
    SLFP.

    Shortly before the elections the SLFP formed a front with certain
    other organisations like the LSSP of Philip Gunawardena, the Basha
    Perumana, and even individuals, called the Mahajana Eksath Peramuna
    (MEP), for the purpose of the elections, After this, the No-Contest
    Pact with the LSSP was partially broken by MEP candidates not
    belonging to the SLFP contesting the LS5P in several seats assigned to
    the party. The party, however, conscious that the task was to defeat
    the UNP, did not aggravate the situation by any attempt at reprisals.

    The election campaign became a veritable mass struggle against the
    hated capitalist UNP. UNP leaders going to election meetings were
    greeted with black flags and buns strung up in a row (to illustrate
    the withdrawal of the free mid-day bun given to school children). And,
    to add to the anti-capitalist sentiments of the masses, in the
    Sinhalese areas there was the new factor represented by the language
    question. The UNP, at a party conference held immediately prior to the
    election, had itself changed its language policy to one of Sinhala
    only. But this action was only greeted by the masses with derision.
    They were firmly convinced that what the UNP really stood for was
    English only!

    The elections resulted in a rout of the UNP. The principal
    significance of the election result lay in the fact that for the first
    time the masses had broken away from the leadership of the big
    bourgeoisie. The UNP which had put forward 76 candidates won only 8
    seats, securing a total of 738,551 votes. The MEP which had put
    forward 60 candidates won 51 seats, with 1,046,362 votes. The LSSP
    which had put forward 21 candidates, won 14 seats, polling 274,204
    votes. The Federal Party, with 14 candidates won 10 seats, polling
    142,036 votes. And the Communist Party, with 9 candidates polled
    119,715 votes, winning 3 seats.

    The LSSP took its seats in the Opposition and, as the single largest
    party in the Opposition, the Leadership of the Opposition fell to it.
    However, at the commencement, the LSSP defined its attitude to the new
    MEP Government as one of “responsive cooperation”. This attitude
    however changed to one of opposition very soon, when the Government
    introduced its “Sinhala Only ”Bill. This was the occasion for minor
    riots. But in 1958, when a pact which the Prime Minister, Mr
    Bandaranaike, had concluded with the Federal Party broke down, there
    were widespread riots and killings, followed by a period of Emergency
    which lasted several months. For a number of months political life was
    at a virtual standstill.

    In its three and a half years of office the MEP did have certain
    achievements to its credit. It nationalised bus transport and the
    Colombo Port. It introduced the Paddy Lands Act and the Multi-Purpose
    Co-operatives. It started the National Provident Fund. To all
    practical interests and purposes it took over the naval and air bases
    from the British. It established diplomatic relations with the
    Socialist countries. It gradually reinstated the Government employees
    dismissed after the General Strike of 1947. And it reversed the
    anti-trade union policy of the UNP Government. The LSSP solidarised
    itself with these progressive acts.

    However, there was plenty on the debit side as well. The
    nationalisations were not the success that was expected because the
    Government was not prepared, in spite of the repeated insistence of
    the LSSP, to give the workers a share in the management of
    nationalised concerns, preferring to run them on bureaucratic lines,
    with the same old capitalist managerial methods. The reforms in
    agriculture could not be properly implemented and the new
    co-operatives could not forge ahead because of the absence of planning
    and co-ordination and because of opposition within the Government
    itself to these measures.

    Workers’ problems were not faced up to and tackled, but constantly
    postponed, leading to widespread strikes. An anti-democratic Public
    Security Amendment Act was passed giving extraordinary powers to the
    Prime Minister. And no attempt was made to introduce even the
    beginnings of a planned economic development. In 1959 the Prime
    Minister announced that it was not proposed to take up the question of
    the nationalisation of the plantations for another 10 years. Finally,
    Sinhalese communalism and Tamil communalism, which were roused to a
    high pitch by the policies of the Government itself and by the public
    declarations of many of its leaders, resulted in widespread rioting
    and Emergency rule, which threatened the unity of the country and
    brought the normal administration practically to a standstill. Even to
    think of economic development in such conditions was not possible.
    Such is the irony of history. The very question which more than any
    other had helped to bring the MEP Government to power proved to be the
    biggest obstacle in the way of the progress of that Government.

    The Trade Union Upsurge

    The victory of the MEP in April 1956 was greeted with joy by all
    sections of the masses. But no section was happier than the workers.
    Having suffered under the anti-union policies of the combined forces
    of the employees and the Government, the workers welcomed the advent
    of the MEP Government as ushering in a new era for the workers.

    The new Government itself declared that its policy was to encourage
    the growth of trade unionism. Whether this policy was effectively
    translated into action is a different matter. Shootings and killings
    of striking workers demonstrated that the police at least were
    following a different policy. But the workers took the Government at
    its word, and the period from 1956 onwards saw an unprecedented
    development of trade unionism in Ceylon.

    At first the workers did not wish to embarrass the new government by
    strikes. Although their wage demands were acute in a situation where
    the cost of living was rapidly rising, they waited patiently for over
    a year in the hope that the Government would take measures that would
    grant them relief.21 The Government, however, postponed all these
    questions.

    Finally, driven to desperation, the Government workers, organised in
    the LSSP-led Government Workers’ Trade Union Federation, launched a
    two-day strike in November 1957. It was a General Strike of railway
    workers and spread into other sections of government workers too. A
    number of demands were won, including a Rs. 17-50 Special Allowance
    and the securing of permanency or temporary monthly paid status for
    thousands of casual workers.

    The widespread floods of December 1957 brought the strike wave to a
    temporary halt, but at the end of February a large number of workers
    in engineering firms, hotels, shops and certain other establishments
    in the private sector, belonging to the unions affiliated to the
    CSSP-led Ceylon Federation of Labour, went on strike. The principal
    demand was the Rs. 17-50 Special Allowance. In April of that year a
    big strike was called by the LSSP-led Ceylon Trade Union Federation.
    The majority of strikers were those engaged in the tea and rubber
    packing trades in Colombo. A strike of the Government clerical
    employees was also called at the same time. While the police attacked
    the striking clerks the armed forces paraded the streets in an effort
    to intimidate the strikers. It was only after a vehement protest by
    the Ceylon Federation of Labour that the armed forces were taken off
    the streets.

    The wave of workers’ struggles came to an end only in the latter half
    of May with the sudden outbreak of communal rioting and the
    declaration of a State of Emergency. But in a few months, even before
    the Emergency was lifted, isolated workers’ strikes were taking place.
    And the middle of 1959 saw further economic struggles, some of them
    big strikes like the strike in the harbour, conducted by the LSSP-led
    United Port Workers Union and the strike of the mercantile employees
    called by the Ceylon Mercantile Union.

    As distinct from economic struggles a one-day political strike that
    took place on March 3rd 1959 deserves special mention. An amendment
    was introduced in Parliament to the Public Security Act, giving
    extraordinary new powers to the police and armed forces if the Prime
    Minister is of opinion that the public security is endangered or such
    danger is imminent. The LSSP-led Ceylon Federation of Labour took the
    initiative in convening a meeting of representatives of all the trade
    union centres and principal trade unions. This conference, composed of
    the Ceylon Federation of Labour, the Government Workers’ Trade Union
    Federation, the Ceylon Workers’ Congress, the Democratic Workers’
    Congress, the Ceylon Mercantile Union and a number of other unions,
    finally decided on a one-day protest strike on March 3rd. There was no
    question of course of the unions led by the SLFP or Philip Gunawardena
    group participating in an action against the Government, while the
    CP-led Ceylon Trade Union Federation, although it was against the
    Bill, was not prepared for action on this issue.

    When this anti-democratic piece of legislation came before Parliament,
    the party Members of Parliament, in order to demonstrate the extent of
    their opposition and to alert the country to the dangers inherent in
    the Bill, adopted obstructionist tactics and had to be forcibly
    removed from the chamber of the House of Representatives on February
    12th with the aid of the police.

    As was to be expected, the Government, the Press, the Radio, as well
    as the unions led by the Communist Party, the SLFP and the Philip
    Gunawardena group did everything they could to sabotage the strike.
    The March 3rd action as a strike was only a partial success. But it
    fully succeeded in its purpose, which was to register a working class
    protest in an emphatic manner against a reactionary and
    anti-democratic piece of legislation.

    The period commencing with the formation of the MEP Government in 1956
    was one in which, generally speaking, the influence of the party among
    the masses declined. The principal factor contributing to this result
    was the language question of which mention was made earlier. In the
    local government elections at the end of 1956 the party suffered
    reverses outside Colombo, while in Colombo the party suffered a defeat
    that was in the nature of a rout. Its group in the Colombo Municipal
    Council was reduced to 3, while 3 sitting members lost their seats to
    MEP candidates.

    It is worth recording that in the national disaster caused by the
    floods at the end of 1959, the Sama Samaja Youth Leagues lost no time
    in despatching numbers of volunteers to some of the worst affected
    areas for relief work. Several relief camps were opened, especially in
    the North Central Province, and the youth leaguers played a role
    reminiscent of the role played by the Suriya Mal workers in the
    malaria epidemic twenty five years earlier.

    It is also worth mentioning that in this period the party sent two
    delegations to visit and study conditions in China and Yugoslavia. The
    party delegation to China, numbering five, visited China in 1957, and
    a delegation of two visited Yugoslavia in 1959. These visits enabled
    the party to obtain far better knowledge of the concrete and varying
    problems facing these countries in their march forward to socialism of
    the methods they were employing to solve them. But this was not all.
    On the one hand the visits constituted a demonstration by a Trotskyist
    party of its solidarity with workers’ states and their valiant efforts
    on the road to socialism. On the other hand, in these countries the
    visits may have done something to help to dispel the false notion that
    Trotskyists are incapable of building mass parties.

    In May 1959, Philip Gunawardena, Minister of Agriculture and William
    Silva, Minister of Industries, resigned from the Government as a
    protest against the decision of the Prime Minister to remove from
    their charge important departments of which they had up to then been
    in control. This was a sequel to strained relations that had been
    developing between them and the right wing in the Cabinet. A small
    group splitting away with them did not affect the Government majority
    in the House of Representatives. However, important and unforeseen
    events were soon to take place to bring about the downfall of the
    Government.

    The Present Period

    On September 25th, 1959, an assassin shot the Prime Minister, Mr
    S.W.R.D. Bandaranaike. The following day he succumbed to his injuries
    and the Leader of the House at the time, Mr W. Dahanayake, was sworn
    in as Prime Minister. The first reaction of the entire nation to the
    tragedy was one of shock. But as time went on, public dissatisfaction
    began to grow with regard to the manner of investigation into the
    circumstances of the tragedy. Within Parliament and outside, the Lanka
    Sama Samaja Party took the lead in bringing many matters to light, in
    criticising official apathy and in demanding a full inquiry into the
    political conspiracy behind the assassination.

    The Dahanayake Government was not destined to last long. After a few
    weeks the new Prime Minister unceremoniously dismissed his SLFP
    Ministers, formed a new party with some of the Right Wing SLFPers and
    not having a majority in Parliament, dissolved Parliament and arranged
    for a General Election.

    Like the General Election of 1952, that of March 1960 was one in which
    each political party made its own independent bid. Unable to come to
    programmatic agreement with either the Communist Party or the Mahajana
    Eksath Peramuna (which name was taken over by the organisation of
    Philip Gunawardena) the LSSP made its own independent bid for power,
    fighting 100 seats (out of a total of 151) on an anti-capitalist
    programme.

    The results were as follows. The UNP, putting forward 127 candidates
    won 50 seats, polling a total of 901,082 votes. The SLFP, with 108
    candidates won 46 seats, polling 654,767 votes. The LSSP, with 100
    candidates won 10 seats, polling 325,250 votes. And the MEP, with 89
    candidates, won 10 seats polling 322,794 votes. True, this was the
    highest number of votes polled so far at a General Election by the
    party. Even in the General Election of 1947 the combined votes of the
    Trotskyist parties had amounted only 317,213. But there was no getting
    away from the fact that the election result was a defeat It was also
    clear that the wave of Sinhalese communalism represented by the cry of
    “Sinhala Only”, though not as powerful as in 1956, was still an
    important factor and prevented large numbers of anti-capitalist minded
    people who would otherwise have voted for the LSSP from voting for the
    LSSP, which took the position of making Tamil also an official
    language. The Indian question was also a question which adversely
    affected the party in upcountry areas.

    Very soon after the election results were known, Mr Dudley Senanayake,
    the leader of the United National Party, the largest single party, was
    called upon by the Governor General to form a Government. While the
    formation of the UNP Government was greeted with jubilation by the
    propertied and privileged strata of society, Ceylonese and foreign
    alike, to the toiling masses the day of the return to power of the
    hated UNP was like a day of mourning. The only ray of hope was that
    the UNP was still a minority government not commanding a majority in
    Parliament. In this situation the LSSP bent all its efforts to secure
    the downfall of the UNP Government as early as possible, doing
    everything it could to stiffen the ranks of the Opposition in the face
    of blandishments from the side of the UNP till the date when the vote
    on a motion of Confidence would be taken. The UNP Government was
    defeated on the vote on the Address of Thanks to the Throne Speech.22
    The Governor General instead of calling upon the SLFP Leader of the
    Opposition to form a Government, gave in to the request of the UNP
    Premier to dissolve Parliament and hold a fresh election.

    Once again the LSSP, realising the needs of the situation, entered
    into a No-Contest and mutual support pact with the SLFP and the CP,
    and as in 1956 laid the basis firmly and truly for the defeat of the
    UNP in the General Election of July 1960. The results of the March
    election had shown that the masses by and large had chosen the SUP as
    their main weapon to defeat the UNP. The results also demonstrated
    that very large sections of the masses, especially in rural areas,
    considered the SLFP too to be a leftist party capable of radical
    anti-capitalist measures. For them, this had to be tested out in
    experience. Accordingly, under the electoral agreement, while the SLFP
    contested 98 seats, the LSSP contested only 21, thus paying the way
    for the formation of a SLFP Government after the defeat of the UNP.
    However, the programme of demands put forward by the party in this
    election campaign was identical with what it had put forward in the
    March election when it had fought under the slogan of a Samasamaja
    Government.

    In spite of the complete unity of the propertied classes and their
    utmost efforts, aided by the state machinery which was under the
    control of the UNP, the UNP was defeated in the July General Election.
    Although its 128 candidates polled 1,145,607 votes it won only 30
    seats. The SLFP won 75 seats, polling 1,011,661 votes. The LSSP won 12
    seats polling 214,693 votes. A SLFP Government was formed immediately
    afterwards with Mrs Sirima Bandaranaike as Prime Minister.

    The Lanka Sama Samaja Party, while functioning as an independent group
    bound neither to the Government Party nor the Opposition Party, today
    adopts a position of general support of the Government, holding itself
    free to criticise the Government as well as vote against it where it
    disagrees. This support it will continue to give so long as the
    Government, in line with its socialist professions, subserves the
    needs of the mass movement for socialism.

    This is a short, indeed a very short, history of the Lanka Sama Samaja
    Party during the first twenty five years of its existence. Twenty five
    years is a short period in history. But it is long enough a period for
    one to discover the programme, the character, the physiognomy and the
    traditions of a party. The attentive reader would have discovered many
    such features which have become a part of the Lanka Sama Samaja Party.
    In particular he could not have failed to note its irreconcilable
    opposition to imperialism and capitalism, its passionate defence of
    democratic rights and its sincere regard for democratic processes, its
    socialist internationalism as well as its deep desire for a real
    national unity forged on the mutual trust of the different communities
    who inhabit our country, and last but not least its revolutionary
    faith in the capacity of the masses to achieve.

    The history of the Lanka Sama Samaja Party shows that its path has not
    been a smooth one. There have been times when its enemies predicted
    that it would not rise again. But they were proved to be wrong. On the
    other hand, the Lanka Sama Samaja Party has also had its victories.
    Its history contains its chapters of glory. But inspiring through
    those episodes may be, the most glorious chapters have yet to be
    written.


    Notes

    1. Terence N. de Silva died in 1959.

    2. B.J. Fernando was the composer of the international song of the party.

    3. To give but one example the word “pakshaya”, meaning “party”, used
    to be used loosely and incorrectly in the thirties to describe the
    words “class”. It is the Samasamaja movement that popularised the
    correct word “panthiya ”in this connection.

    4. V. Sittampalam died in 1945.

    5. Reggie Senanayake died in 1946.

    6. Henry Peiris died in 1959.

    7. V. Balasingham died in 1944.

    8. Rathu Wijesinghe died in 1958.

    9. David Perera died in 1944.

    10. The Communist Party in this period characterised the UNP as a
    front rather than a party. While admitting that it had a reactionary
    leadership it nevertheless stressed that there were progressives in
    its ranks. This led it to decide on a policy that was in fact pro-UNP
    and anti-LSSP for the forthcoming election of 1947.

    11. This group was under the influence of the ideas of M.N. Roy of India.

    12. C. Tharmakulasingham died in 1949.

    13. This warning was specially important at the time because the
    Communist Party, acting in the interests of contemporary Soviet
    foreign policy, was engaged in adventurist actions.

    14. The Communist Party put forward a candidate against N.M. Perera at
    Ruanwella, for example, but later withdrew their nomination. This
    candidate finally contested as an Independent.

    15. The LSSP took the position that although legally power had been
    transferred, independence was a fake one on account of the economic
    domination of Ceylon’s economy by the imperialists, the continuation
    by Britain of military bases in Ceylon, and the existence of a secret
    defence agreement, explicit or implied, with the British Government.
    This position has undergone modification over the years, with the
    virtual evacuation of the bases under the MEP Government of 1956-59
    and the absence of evidence of a secret defence agreement.

    16. Programmatic agreement was not possible, because the United
    Front’s aim in the elections was the creation of a “democratic
    government”. In the elections the CP-LSSP United Front supported SLFP
    candidates against candidates of the LSSP.

    17. The Lanka Sama Samaja Party, conscious of its responsibilities,
    saw to it that a free defence was supplied by the party in these
    cases. Happily, it was possible to secure acquittals in mast cases.

    18. It has always been the practice of the LSSP, as a democratic
    party, to hold conferences regularly and also whenever the situation
    demands it. After the unification Conference of 1950, there were party
    Conferences in February 1951, December 1951, October 1952, October
    1953, April 1955, February 1957, July 1959, April 1960 and May 1960,
    making a total of 10 Conferences in the past 10 years.

    19. The voting was as follows: UNP – 5,291, L55P – 2,177, SLFP – 964, CP – 504.

    20. Reggie Mendis lost his left hand through the bursting of a bomb.

    21. The only major strikes in this early period were the strikes of
    the dock workers. And even these strikes were sparked off in September
    1956 by the Harbour and Dock Workers Union, controlled by Philip
    Gunawardena, a Minister in the MEP Government.

    22. The MEP remained neutral in the decisive vote, in keeping with the
    line that it put forward of a National Government, which could only
    have meant a Government under the leadership of the UNP.
    ________________________________

    Source: What’s Next?
    Transcription: Originally transribed by What’s Next?. Reformatted for
    the ETOL in 2009 by D. Walters
    Note by Transcriber: The numbered footnotes are from the original
    article in What’s Next?. The linked terms go to the Marxist Internet
    Archive Glossary and do not reflect the point of view of either the
    author or Spartacist.

    ________________________________

    Foreword

    This is a short history of the Lanka Sama Samaja Party produced in
    connection with the 25th anniversary celebrations of the party.
    Written by Leslie Goonewardene, it has been ratified by a special
    committee of the party appointed for the purpose. The committee is
    composed of N.M. Perera, Colvin R. de Silva, Leslie Goonewardene,
    Edmund Samarakkody, Doric de Souza and P.B. Tampoe.

    47 Drieberg’s Avenue, Colombo
    December 18th 1960

    Chapter 1 – The Early Period

    Preparatory Work

    The Lanka Sama Samaja Party was founded on December 18th 1935 with the
    broad aims of Independence and Socialism, by a group of young people
    who had gathered together for that purpose.

    The idea did not fall from the sky but had been maturing for some
    time. The only other parties that could be said to have existed at the
    time were the Ceylon National Congress and the Ceylon Labour Party.
    The Ceylon National Congress representing the interests of the
    Ceylonese capitalists, was following a policy of begging for
    constitutional reforms, with the aim of Dominion Status, in much the
    same manner as the Liberals in India. The Labour Party, which had
    played a progressive role along with the Ceylon Labour Union in the
    twenties in the first important awakening of Ceylon’s working class,
    had degenerated into a one-man show, and in any case had nothing to do
    with Socialism. There was a void to be filled.

    Just as the idea of the new party did not fall from the sky, so also
    the group of people who formed it did not suddenly gather together
    from nowhere. It was a grouping that had collected as the result of
    some patient work over a few years. The group that was the precursor
    of the Lanka Sama Samaja Party was first formed some time in the
    latter part of 1933. But one might go even further back to the
    Wellawatte Mills Strike of 1932, the leadership of which had been
    provided by individuals who were later to become members of the group.

    The group at the commencement numbered a bare half-dozen composed
    principally of students who had returned from abroad, influenced
    deeply by the ideas of Karl Marx and Lenin. But it gradually expanded.
    It might be of interest today to recall that N.M. Perera, Colvin R. de
    Silva, Leslie Goonewardene, Philip Gunawardena and Robert Gunawardena
    were among the members of the original group.

    Efforts were made to break into the working class field, and the group
    published for several months a Sinhalese paper entitled “Kamkaruwa
    ”(Worker). In the trade union field the group came into head-on clash
    with Mr A.E. Goonesinghe the reformist labour leader. (Mr
    Goonesinghe’s influence, though on the wane, was to persist till the
    war period.) Excepting the Wellawatte Mills, in this clash Mr
    Goonesinghe was generally the victor. The young enthusiasts learned in
    the hard way that the working class does not lightly abandon its
    traditional leadership.

    Efforts in the general political field were more successful. On the
    initiative of the South Colombo Youth League, the Suriya Mal Movement
    was launched in November 1933. A couple of years or so previously, in
    protest against the proceeds of Poppy sales on Armistice Day (November
    11th) being used for the benefit of the British ex-servicemen to the
    detriment of Ceylonese ex-servicemen, a Ceylonese ex-serviceman, Mr
    Aelian Perera, had started a rival sale of Suriya flowers on this day,
    the proceeds of which were devoted to help needy Ceylonese
    ex-servicemen. This movement was revived on a new anti-imperialist and
    anti-war basis.

    Emblazoning the words “Peace ”and “Freedom ”on its banner the new
    Suriya Mal Movement came into being. Young men and women sold Suriya
    flowers on the streets on November 11th in competition with the Poppy
    sellers, yearly until the second world war. The purchasers of the
    Suriya Mal were generally from the poorer sections of society and the
    funds collected were not large. But the movement provided a rallying
    point for the anti-imperialist minded youth of the time. Doreen
    Wickramasinghe (Mrs S.A. Wickramasinghe) was elected first President
    of the Suriya Mal Movement at a meeting held at the residence of
    Wilmot Perera in Horana. Terence N. de Zilva and Robin Ratnam were
    elected Joint Secretaries, and Roy de Mel Treasurer.

    The proceeds of the campaign were utilised for the publication of
    literature and the education of a child of a depressed community. The
    Suriya Mal workers also played an important role during the malaria
    epidemic of 1934-35 in which 125,000 died throughout the country.
    Bands of Suriya Mal workers encamped in the worst affected areas and
    did valuable relief work in the malaria-stricken villages.

    In this early period, youth leagues were started in various places
    having as their aim the winning of complete independence for Ceylon.
    Anti-imperialist propaganda was carried on under the aegis of the
    youth leagues. Noteworthy was the opposition organised to the campaign
    of the National Congress Board of Ministers to gain support in the
    country for their petition to Whitehall. This “Ministers’ Memorandum”,
    as it came to be known, instead of demanding even Dominion Status for
    Ceylon only asked for the transfer of more power to the elected
    Ministers. The Youth Leagues opposed the manoeuvre as an abject
    capitulation to imperialism. After three or four public meetings, in
    the face of opposition the Ministers dropped their campaign.

    All this preparatory work paved the way for the formation of the Lanka
    Sama Samaja Party. The first members of the party came principally
    from elements thrown up by the youth leagues and the Suriya Mal
    movement,

    The Party is Launched

    The first manifesto of the Lanka Sama Samaja Party declared that its
    aims were the achievement of complete national independence, the
    nationalisation of the means of production, distribution and exchange,
    and the abolition of inequalities arising from differences of race,
    caste, creed or sex.

    It is of interest today to note that the partial demands raised at the
    time included the abolition of child labour, free school books,
    abolition of irrigation rates, a scheme of unemployment insurance,
    minimum wage, eight-hour day, rent restriction, slum clearance, the
    use of Sinhalese and Tamil for proceedings in lower courts and for
    entries in police stations and the gradual extension of this to all
    government departments, abolition of the headman system and
    nationalisation of imports of rice and petrol.

    Membership of the party was open to those who subscribed to the
    party’s aims and paid a subscription of 25 cents a month. Power was
    vested in an Executive Committee between annual conferences. Colvin R.
    de Silva was elected President at the inaugural meeting and Vernon
    Gunasekera was elected Secretary.

    The Party succeeded in securing the election of two of its members,
    Philip Gunawardena (Avissawella) and N.M. Perera (Ruanwella) to the
    State Council in the General Elections of February-March 1936, Dr S.A.
    Wickramasinghe, member for Akuressa in the First State Council of
    1931, re-contested his seat as LSSP candidate in the General Election
    of 1936, and lost. Leslie Goonewardene lost his contest at Panadura.

    The securing of two seats in the State Council was an invaluable aid
    to the young party. The two State Councillors fully utilised the
    legislature as a forum to propagandise the policy of the party and to
    put forward its view on all important questions as they arose. Their
    advent was like a waft of fresh air. The walls of the chamber began to
    echo the cry of the oppressed, the grievances of the workers, the
    complaints of the rural population, the defiance of those who would
    not submit to imperialist subjection or capitalist and feudal
    exploitation and oppression.

    The Sinhalese weekly “Samasamajaya ”commenced on July 10th 1936, and
    edited by B.J. Fernando also played a valuable role. It continued to
    appear regularly till the press was seized and sealed up by the
    Government in 1940. The Tamil weekly “Samatharmam ”was commenced in
    1938. Its first editor was K. Ramanathan. Later T.E. Pushparajan
    became the editor.

    Bringing Politics to the People

    In order to appreciate and understand the nature of the impact made by
    the Lanka Sama Samaja Party on the political scene and the role it
    played in this first period, it is important first of all to realise
    that politics in the sense we understand it today did not exist at
    that time in Ceylon. Although universal franchise had existed from
    1931, elections did not proceed on party lines, and political issues
    were hardly raised. Voters used to vote on caste, religious or
    personal considerations. Politics was really confined to the English
    educated few, and it was customary for public meetings to be conducted
    in English.

    In a sense it would be true to say that the Lanka Sama Samaja party
    introduced politics to Ceylon. Certainly it brought politics to the
    common people, employing a language and terms they could understand.
    Many words, especially in political terminology, which are in current
    use today in the Sinhalese language have acquired their meaning thanks
    to the Sama Samaja movement.

    As a matter of fact, when the Lanka Sama Samaja Party was formed there
    were no accepted words in Sinhalese to describe the words “Socialist
    ”or “Communist”. That is how the word “Samasamajaya”, coined by Mr
    Dally Jayawardena in the “Swadesa Mitraya ”of that day to describe the
    word “Socialist”, came to be chosen. The new term had the added
    advantage of not being associated with the ideas of reformism that are
    attached to the English word “Socialist”.

    In the period 1935 to 1939, a number of reforms and measures of social
    amelioration are directly attributable to the agitation of the Lanka
    Sama Samaja Party, both within the State Council and outside. Thus,
    for example, a million rupees was set apart in 1936 for free meals for
    school children, a reform of the headman system was set going in 1937
    by the abolition of the posts of superior headmen (that is,
    Ratemahatmayas, Mudliyars, as also Korales and Vidane Arachchies) and
    a resolution to abolish irrigation rates was accepted by the State
    Council in 1938 and implemented a year later.

    In November 1936, a motion that “in the Municipal and Police Courts of
    the Island the proceedings should be in the vernacular ”was accepted
    by the State Council and referred to the Legal Secretary. Needles to
    say, nothing was done about it. A similar fate attended a motion
    passed on the same day that “entries in police stations should be
    recorded in the language in which they are originally stated”. These
    early efforts to make a beginning in the displacement of English as
    the language of administration thus went unheeded. The failure to
    tackle these matters in time was later to give this question of the
    state language such an explosive form as to threaten the very unity of
    the Ceylonese nation.

    Similarly, another Samasamajist motion “not to grant any recruiting
    licences under any circumstances whatsoever”, aimed at a ban on Indian
    immigration, was debated and defeated in September 1937 on the
    specious plea that there was a shortage of labour in the plantations.
    This has never, however, prevented the very people who opposed this
    resolution from attacking the Samasamajists as being “pro-Indian ”and
    “anti-Ceylonese ”when they have defended the human rights of these
    plantation workers whom the capitalists themselves had brought from
    India.

    It was about the same time as the formation of the Lanka Sama Samaja
    Party that a group of young socialists in India, under the leadership
    of people like Jayaprakash Narain, Ashok Mehta, M.R. Masani and
    Rammanohar Lohia, had launched the Congress Socialist Party in India.
    Fraternal relations were established between the two parties and it
    was probably partly as a result of this that a delegation of the Lanka
    Sama Samaja Party was invited to and attended the Faizpur Sessions of
    the Indian National Congress in 1936. In April 1937 Kamaladevi
    Chattopadyaya, a leader of the Congress Socialist Party and one of the
    most colourful figures in the Indian national movement, was the guest
    of the Lanka Sama Samaja Party and addressed a large number of
    meetings in various parts of the country on a national tour. This
    propaganda campaign helped the newly formed party to popularise
    itself.

    The Bracegirdle Episode

    It was towards the end April 1937 that there occurred an episode that
    led to the party receiving nation-wide publicity and which first
    established the party’s reputation as an organisation which fights for
    democratic rights not only in words but also in deeds.

    M.A.L. Bracegirdle, a young Australian, after completing his “creeping
    ”on a British tea plantation, joined the Lanka Sama Samaja Party and
    began to participate energetically in its activities. This was too
    much for the white sahibs of the Plantation raj who considering their
    prestige was at stake prevailed upon the Governor at the time Sir
    Reginald Stubbs, to serve an order of deportation on Bracegirdle under
    a century-old law.

    Bracegirdle was served with the order of deportation on April 22nd and
    given 48 hours to leave by a steamer on which a passage had been
    booked for him by the Government. The Party with the full concurrence
    of Bracegirdle decided that the order should be defied. On April 24th
    the steamer left without Bracegirdle, and there followed a man-hunt
    throughout the country, in which, despite all efforts of the police
    Bracegirdle successfully eluded arrest. In parenthesis it may be
    mentioned that the experience gained in hiding Bracegirdle was
    valuable for the party for the illegal and underground tasks of the
    war years.

    In the meantime, the matter gained nation-wide publicity with public
    sympathy increasingly manifesting itself in favour of Bracegirdle. In
    the party May Day, demonstration that year there were placards
    declaring “We want Bracegirdle – Deport Stubbs”. The Board of
    Ministers too began to feel the pressure of mass opinion and protested
    against the Governor’s action which had been taken without even
    consulting the Minister of Home Affairs. After 11 days of eluding the
    police, Bracegirdle made a dramatic re-appearance at a mammoth rally
    in Colombo on May 5th; a couple of days later he was arrested.

    But by now legal preparations had been made. A writ of “Habeas Corpus
    ”was served, and there ensued a legal battle before a bench of three
    Supreme Court judges presided over by Chief Justice Sir Sidney
    Abrahams. The case created legal history. Mr H.V. Perera, Ceylon’s
    leading civil lawyer, volunteered his services free on behalf of
    Bracegirdle. In the end on May 18th order was made quashing the
    Governor’s order of deportation, and Bracegirdle was a free man.

    It should not be supposed, however, that the young Sama Samaja Party
    had an easy path to tread. From the commencement the Ceylonese
    bourgeoisie recognised in the Lanka Sama Samaja Party its real enemy.
    Sir Don Baron Jayatilleke commenced the onslaught, acting on the
    theory, no doubt, that it was always better to nip a thing in the bud.
    He made it a point to attack the Sama Samaja Party at political and
    non-political meetings he addressed in various parts of the country,
    declaring that the Samasamajists were out to destroy religion. One of
    the results of Sir Baron’s propaganda was that the Lanka Sama Samaja
    Party began to receive requests for meetings from people in whom
    interest had been aroused by Sir Baron’s attacks and who desired to
    hear the other side of the question! Needless to say, the party was
    only too glad to oblige.

    Realising, no doubt, that verbal attacks were not achieving their
    purpose, the bourgeoisie decided that firmer measures were needed.
    From 1937 to 1939 a systematic effort was made to disrupt Samasamaja
    meetings not only by shouting and beating of tom-toms, but by physical
    attacks by drunken hoodlums armed with clubs and knives. Very often,
    in those days, holding a public meeting involved elaborate
    organisation for the defence of the meeting against such attacks. Many
    meetings resulted in open clashes. The Bulathkohupitiya and Homagama
    meetings in particular deserve mention as instances where the party
    showed its determination to defend the right of meeting. In the latter
    case, as late as February 1939, many were injured on both sides.

    Another form of attack resorted to by the bourgeois opponents of the
    party was the publication of scurrilous literature against the
    Samasamajist leaders. One particularly indecent paper called “Sinha
    Handa ”deserves special mention since it was edited by a particularly
    capable Sinhalese writer of repute who had prostituted his talents to
    serve his bourgeois masters.

    The Trade Union Field

    After the launching of the party, efforts at unionisation of the
    workers met with greater success than before. Indeed the party was
    able to take leadership in the spontaneous island-wide two-day strike
    of the motor workers that took place on the eve of the February 1936
    General Election, against the recently promulgated Motor Laws which
    provided for the cancellation of driving licences for trivial
    offences.

    Trade union work was, however, an uphill task in the face of the
    opposition of the reformist labour leader Mr Goonesinghe, whose
    opposition went so far as to supply blacklegs to employers to break
    strikes led by the Samasamajists. Unionisation, however, went slowly
    forward among the bus workers, the Ratmalana Railway Workshop workers,
    and other sections of workers in private establishments. In this
    period the party provided leadership in strikes of workers of the
    Admiralty in Trincomalee, the Kolonnawa oil installation, the Colombo
    Commercial Co. at Hunupitiya, and at other places.

    In 1938, however, unionisation suffered a severe setback as the result
    of a marked growth of anti-Indian sentiment among the Sinhalese
    workers. Mr. Goonesinghe who had raised the anti-Indian cry in the
    Wellawatte Mills strike of 1932 made a desperate effort to retain his
    hold on labour by an anti-Indian campaign. He was greatly assisted in
    this by Mr J.L. Kotelawala (later Sir John Kotelawala), Minister of
    Communications and Works, who announced with a fanfare of trumpets
    that he was getting rid of all Indian workers working under the
    Government. The campaign to arouse racial hatred was a success. Many
    work-places in Colombo employed also workers of Indian origin. With
    division in the ranks of the workers, union organisations collapsed,
    and it was a simple matter for the employers to impose their own terms
    on the workers in the workplaces. Even the strong Wellawatte Mill
    Workers Union was a casualty in this period when union organisation
    reached a very low level. This was the first example of the successful
    use of communalism as an organised manoeuvre to disrupt the mass
    movement. These moods began to change only with the commencement of
    the war and the strike wave among the plantation workers.

    The end of 1939 and the first half of 1940 saw the awakening for the
    first time of the workers of the plantations. A wave of spontaneous
    strikes spread throughout the plantations, commencing in November. At
    the start the issues were generally trivial, such as a discontinuance
    or a transfer, but basically it was a struggle of the workers to win
    the right of organisation. There were two principal organisations
    working among the plantation workers, one the trade union organisation
    of the Ceylon Indian Congress, and the other the All-Ceylon Estate
    Workers Union led by the Samasamajists.

    In November and December the wave was more or less confined to the
    Central Province and was by and large under the leadership of the
    Congress. In this area it reached the zenith in the Mool Oya Estate
    strike, which was led by the Samasamajists. In this strike, on January
    19th 1940, the worker Govindan was shot and killed by the police and
    became the first of a long list of martyrs of the working class in the
    plantations. As a result of agitation both within the State Council
    and outside, the Government was compelled to appoint a Commission of
    Inquiry. Colvin R. de Silva, who appeared for the widow of Govindan,
    was able to make a very effective exposure of the combined role of the
    police and employers in the plantation raj of the white man. The name
    of Veluchamy, Secretary of All-Ceylon Estate Workers Union, is
    indissolubly bound up with the Mool Oya strike.

    But the raj of the white planters was beginning to crack. After Mool
    Oya, the plantation strike wave spread southward towards Uva, with the
    workers showing increasing militancy and determination. The strikes
    became more prolonged (the strike on St Andrews’ Estate, Talawakelle,
    continued for 3 months), more basic demands such as wage demands were
    increasingly raised, and the workers began more and more to seek the
    militant leadership of the Samasamajists.

    When the strike wave reached Uva Province, the Samasamajists were in
    the leadership. In a desperate effort to stem the tide, the Badulla
    Magistrate issued an order banning the holding of meetings. On a
    decision by the party N.M. Perera broke the ban and addressed a
    mammoth meeting in Badulla on May 12th. The police were powerless to
    act. Willie Jayatilleke, Edmund Samarakkody and V. Sittampalam4 did
    invaluable work in the struggle in Uva.

    The highest point in the entire struggle was reached on Wewessa Estate
    where the workers set up their elected council, the Superintendent
    agreeing to act in consultation with the Workers’ Council. An armed
    police party that went to restore “law and order ”was disarmed by the
    workers, and on the orders of the workers’ council the rifles were
    returned to the policemen on their furnishing a signed receipt.

    Finally, of course, the strike wave was beaten back by the police.
    This was facilitated by floods which cut off Uva from the rest of the
    country for over a week. And the police specially took their revenge
    on the heroic Wewessa workers by a literal armed invasion of the
    estate followed by a rule of terror which compelled scores of workers
    to seek refuge in the jungle for several days.

    The militant leadership provided by the party made a deep impression
    among the plantation workers. But the party was never able to build on
    this goodwill because firstly, repression descended on the party
    immediately afterwards, leaving the trade union field in the
    plantations free to the Ceylon Indian Congress; and secondly because
    even after the war, the measures of the Government against workers of
    Indian origin drove these workers quite naturally in the circumstances
    into the arms of the Ceylon Indian Congress.

    Chapter 2 – War and Repression

    Trotskyism and Stalinism

    The Second World War, which commenced in September 1939, brought many
    changes for the Lanka Sama Samaja Party. But in the first place, it
    accelerated changes within it.

    For some time past, most of the leaders of the Lanka Sama Samaja Party
    had been disturbed by certain international developments, such as the
    Moscow Trials and the Popular Front line of the Communist Parties of
    the West. They could not believe that the confessions in the trials
    were genuine and felt compelled to come to the conclusion that they
    were gigantic frame-ups. The line of the Popular Front, especially in
    Spain, appeared to be dictated, not by the needs of the Spanish
    Revolution, but by the foreign policy needs of the Soviet Government.
    The line of the National Front, prescribed for colonial countries,
    seemed to subserve the same aim. In other words, the Third (Communist)
    International, founded by Lenin in 1919 to give help and guidance to
    the socialist revolution throughout the world, had apparently
    degenerated into an abject instrument of Stalin’s changing foreign
    policies. A careful reading of Trotsky’s “Revolution Betrayed ” (first
    available in English in 1938) also had a profound effect on the
    leaders of the Lanka Sama Samaja Party.

    The support of the war for some weeks by the Communist Parties of
    Britain and France who were faithfully following the People’s War line
    of the Popular Front and their abrupt change of line into one of
    opposition to the war, presumably on instructions from abroad,
    underlined the need for an early clarification of the question within
    the Lanka Sama Samaja Party.

    Accordingly the following resolution was presented to and adopted by
    the Executive Committee of the Lanka Sama Samaja Party: “Since the 3rd
    International has not acted in the interests of the international
    revolutionary working class movement, while expressing its solidarity
    with the Soviet Union, the first workers’ state, the Lanka Sama Samaja
    Party declares that it has no faith in the 3rd International. ”29
    voted for, and 5 against the resolution. Among those voting against
    were S.A. Wickramasinghe and M.G. Mendis who had for some time, along
    with Jack Kotalawela, served as Joint Secretary of the party.

    The clash between the Trotskyists and the Stalinists now came into the
    open in the party. Shortly afterwards, the Stalinists were expelled.
    This was possibly the first occasion in the history of party
    expulsions where the Trotskyists expelled the Stalinists, and not the
    reverse.

    The Executive Committee of the party also adopted a new programme and
    constitution. Hitherto the programme of the party had been vague. Now
    a clear revolutionary programme was adopted, in line with the
    programme of the 4th International, founded by Trotsky in 1938. The
    old constitution had granted membership to all those who paid a
    subscription of 25 cents a month. The new constitution limited
    membership to those who paid a monthly subscription according to
    ability to pay, and who engaged in party activity as members in a
    party group or local organisation. An effort was thus made to convert
    the party from a loose body of individuals into a fighting
    organisation.

    How timely the change was, is shown by the repression that descended
    on the party immediately afterwards. Further, one dreads to think what
    the position would have been if the Stalinists had remained within the
    party till 1941, when the Soviet Union entered the war against
    Germany.

    Their change of position from opposition to support of the war and
    their policy of branding as traitors those who opposed the war would
    have paralysed the party if they had been within it. As it was, the
    party entered the dark period of war repression armed with the
    ideological and organisational weapons needed for the tasks and
    problems it had to face.

    The Underground Period

    The Lanka Sama Samaja Party had from the start characterised the war
    as an imperialist war and opposed Ceylon’s participation in it. What
    this opposition to the war meant in practice was the prosecution of
    the class struggle in disregard of any adverse consequences that might
    result therefrorn to the war effort. Furthermore, Hitler was marking
    time in the winter of 1939-40 and the war had not yet started in real
    earnest. Consequently perhaps our imperialist rulers still felt they
    could ignore the Sama Samaja Party.

    However, the situation changed in the first half of 1940. On the one
    band, the Samasamajists were proving to be a definite hindrance to the
    war effort with their militant leadership of the plantation workers’
    struggles. The strikes in Uva took place in April-May 1940. And then
    came the fall of Paris on June 13th. Within a week the Government
    acted.

    Detention orders were issued on N.M. Perera, Philip Gunawardena,
    Colvin R. de Silva, Edmund Samarakkody and Leslie Goonewardene. The
    party press was raided and sealed. Regulations were promulgated which
    made open party work practically impossible. J.C.T. Kotelawala was
    party Secretary at the time.

    The party, however, was not caught napping. The cover organisation of
    the party, of which Doric de Souza and senanayake">Reggie Senanayake
    principally were in charge, had been active for some months.5 N.M.
    Perera, Philip Gunawardena and Colvin R. de Silva were arrested on
    June 18th and Edmund Samarakkody on June 19th. But Leslie Goonewardene
    on prior instructions of the party, evaded arrest and went
    underground. The cover organisation of the party enabled him, to work
    for a period of one year and three months till he left for India.
    Despite a prize offered for his capture all the efforts of the police
    to arrest him proved unsuccessful.

    The party press was sealed and guarded. But the “Samasamajaya”,
    printed at the secret party press and produced at first on a two-page
    sheet, began to appear. The Tamil and English illegal sheets also
    appeared at irregular intervals. Illegal leaflets too were
    distributed.

    On June 23rd a mass meeting called by the party to protest against the
    arrests of the party leaders and held despite a police ban, was broken
    up by the police. Eleven people, including Selina Perera, Reggie
    Perera and Boyd Wickremasinghe, were arrested and charged in this
    connection.

    While on the one hand repression was being unleashed in this manner
    against the Samasamajists for the opposition to the war, it might be
    noted in parenthesis that the State Council assembled on June 27th and
    passed without a single dissentient voice a vote of Rs. 5 million as a
    contribution to the war effort or the Imperial Government. It should
    be added however that in 1941 when Mr George E. de Silva brought a
    resolution in the State Council demanding the release of the
    Samasamajist detenus, the resolution was only just defeated, 14 voting
    for, 15 voting against and 8 declining to vote.

    The reorganisation of the party in a manner suitable to the new,
    illegal conditions went forward. Special mention should be made of the
    indefatigable work under the most trying conditions of Henry Peiris
    who was the editor of “Samasamajaya ”during the entire illegal
    period.6 On April 20th 1941, a secret conference, attended by 42
    delegates, was held. Leslie Goonewardene, who was in hiding, also
    attended this conference at which the new programme and constitution
    were adopted.

    The party actively participated in the strike wave of the urban
    workers which commenced in May 1941 and affected the workers of the
    Colombo Harbour, Granaries, Wellawatte Mills, Gas Company, Colombo
    Municipality and Fort-Mount Lavinia bus route. This openly functioning
    section of the party was led by Robert Gunawardena, S.C.C.
    Anthonipillai, V. Karalasingham, K.V. Lourenz Perera and William
    Silva. A legal Sinhalese weekly, “Kamkaruwa”, was published to aid
    these struggles, till the paper was ultimately banned by Admiral
    Layton. The English paper “Straight Left ”was also published in this
    period.

    In mid-1941 the war between the Soviet Union and Germany broke out, as
    a result of Hitler’s treacherous attack. But the Lanka Sama Samaja
    Party stuck firmly to the view that this did not alter the imperialist
    character of the war waged by Britain against Germany (and later along
    with the United States against Italy and Japan as well). It held that
    support of the war and postponement of the struggle for independence
    not only would constitute a betrayal of the struggle against
    imperialism but also would, in the last resort, be not to the
    advantage of the Soviet Union itself.

    Escape from Jail

    A sensation was caused throughout the country when on the night of
    April 7th 1942 the four detenus escaped from jail along with one of
    their jail guards, by name Solomon. Subsequent official inquiries were
    unable to establish how this jail-break succeeded. Today, 18 years
    later, there is no harm in making public the fact that this was not
    the first occasion when the detenus had left the jail. On two previous
    occasions also they had left the jail in the night for all night
    consultations with the party and had returned to jail before dawn. On
    this occasion, however, there was no return.

    As was to be expected, the repression was intensified after the
    jail-break. Up to now, although the Lanka Sama Samaja Party had been
    compelled in practice to work as an illegal organisation, it had not
    been formally illegalised. It was now declared to be an illegal
    organisation. A new wave of arrests took place. Among those
    immediately arrested and detained under the Defence Regulations were
    Jack Kotelawala, Terence N. de Zilva, Willie Jayatilleke, P.
    Veluchamy, H.A.C. Wickremaratne, Boyd Wickremasinghe, Martin Silva and
    Stanley Mendis. There were, of course, many others arrested and
    charged for specific offences.

    A large number of other warrants for arrest and detention were made,
    and with the failure to find the wanted persons, in addition to the
    detenus who had escaped, the following also were proclaimed and
    attachment of their property ordered: Leslie Goonewardene and his wife
    Vivienne Goonewardene, Selina Perera (wife of N.M. Perera), Kusuma
    Gunawardena (wife of Philip Gunawardena), Robert Gunawardena, Reggie
    Senanayake, Reggie Perera, V. Karalasingham, P.H. William Silva,
    S.C.C. Anthonipillai, Lionel D. Cooray and K.V. Lourenz Perera. Many
    of these people were subsequently arrested and detained.

    Soon after the jail-break, the detenus left illegally for India, with
    the exception of Edmund Samarakkody, who stayed behind. At this time,
    the struggle for independence was brewing in India, and many other
    warranted party members also left for India to participate in the
    struggle. For, it was generally realised that the impending open
    revolt against imperialism in India was going to be decisive for the
    future not only of India but of Ceylon as well.

    Formation of the Bolshevik Leninist Party of India

    It should also be mentioned that for some time past the party had been
    in touch with Trotskyist groups in various parts of India, and had
    been playing an important part in bringing them together. Preparatory
    work had been done in this connection by V. Balasingham,7 Doric de
    Souza, Bernard Soysa and later Leslie Goonewardene. In April 1942, the
    Bolshevik Leninist Party of India was formed, as a section of the 4th
    International, with the Lanka Sama Samaja Party as its Ceylon unit,

    This organisational connection was to continue for some years till,
    after the transfer of power in India in 1947 and in Ceylon in 1948,
    such an organisational connection ceased to have any meaning. The
    Ceylon party then became a directly affiliated section of the Fourth
    International.

    The Ceylonese Samasamajists who went to India participated actively
    along with the Bolshevik Leninist Party, in the struggle for
    independence that commenced in August 1942 in India. Some of them
    underwent great hardships. A case in point is that of Hector
    Abeywardena who, released on parole from detention in Ceylon, crossed
    over to India disguised as a Christian priest, and later nearly died
    of smallpox in a remote village in Gujerat.

    In 1943 the Indian police succeeded in arresting a number of the
    Samasamajists in India. Philip Gunawardena, his wife Kusuma and their
    infant child were arrested in Bombay and were kept in Worli jail for
    several weeks before being sent to Ceylon. N.M. Perera was arrested in
    Ahmedabad. Bernard Soysa spent 50 days in the Bombay police lock-up
    before being sent to Ceylon. Others arrested in 1943 were Lionel
    Cooray in Bombay and Robert Gunawardena, Reggie Senanayake and the
    ex-jail guard Solomon in Madras. V. Karalasingham, Allan Mendis, Doric
    de Souza, and S.C.C. Anthonipillai were arrested and detained much
    later. S.C.C. Anthonipillai and Allan Mendis were released from an
    Indian jail only in 1946, a year after the conclusion of the war.
    Colvin R. de Silva, Leslie Goonewardene, Vivienne Goonewardene and
    Selina Perera succeeded in evading arrest up to the end.

    The arrested Ceylonese were ultimately brought back to Ceylon and
    placed in the detention jail at Badulla. Robert Gunawardena, whose leg
    had been broken by the Indian police while attempting to escape from
    custody, was admitted to the General Hospital, Colombo, where he was
    chained to his bed and also guarded day and night. N.M. Perera, Philip
    Gunawardena and Edmund Samarakkody, who had been arrested in Ceylon,
    were charged in 1944 with escaping from jail and sentenced to 6 months
    rigorous imprisonment.

    Tribute should be paid to the numbers of unnamed Samasamajists who
    underwent imprisonment, police persecution and hardship in the war
    period. It is their revolutionary determination that kept the party
    going even in the darkest days. Special mention should be made of
    Hemasiri Silva and Daniel Weerasena who were sentenced to 6 years and
    7 years imprisonment respectively. P.A.E. Perera, publisher of the
    “Samasamajaya”, was warranted and went into hiding. Ill, he entered
    hospital unknown. And dying there, his last words were “Long live the
    Revolution! Tell Comrade Robert!”

    No account of the war period would be complete without something being
    said of the work of a group of worker members who concentrated their
    activities on organising the workers and giving them a militant
    leadership at a time when the Stalinists with every encouragement from
    the imperialists, were building their trade unions on the basis of
    support of the war effort. Needless to say, this type of work was very
    difficult. Being semi-open, it had to be conducted in constant danger
    of police raids and arrests.

    This group was led by G.P. Perera (better known as Elephant Perera
    because of his leadership in 1942 of a 3 months’ struggle of the
    workers of the Elephant cigarette company along with Selina Perera),
    and included among others T.W.R. (Rathu) Wijesinghe,8 W.J. (Hospital)
    Perera, J. Wanigatunga, Thiratnadasa (Bappa), George Perera (Chumbi),
    Samarawickrama, Ariyadasa, Kasi Udayam, David Perera (Hoare David)9
    and Krishnan. It led several strikes including the hospital workers’
    general strike of 1944, and was responsible for the party capturing
    the leadership of the government workers’ unions in Colombo.

    With the conclusion of the war against Germany, public pressure for
    the release of the detenus increased, and on May 30, 1945 the State
    Council passed a resolution, moved by Mr A.P. Jayasuriya, recommending
    the unconditional release of the detenus. On this occasion only two
    British nominated members voted against. However, the detenus were not
    to be released at once. At first efforts m ere made to persuade them
    to sign conditions. The detenus stoutly refused to give any such
    undertaking. Finally, it was after a two-day hunger strike by the
    detenus on June 18-19 that they were unconditionally released on June
    24.

    Some of the detenus had been released earlier on grounds of health,
    while some were under detention in hospital, When the gates of the
    Badulla detention prison were opened. those who still remained inside
    were N.M. Perera, Philip Gunawardena, Terence N. de Zylva, William
    Silva, H.A.C. Wickramaratne, Willie Jayatilleke, Reggie Perera, Martin
    Silva, P. Veluchamy, S. Kulatilleke, B. Waidyasekera and S.B. Peiris.
    Colvin R. de Silva, Leslie Goonewardene and Vivienne Goonewardene only
    returned to Ceylon in November, after the conclusion of the war with
    Japan, when warrants against them were withdrawn. Selina Perera stayed
    back to work in India as also did Anthonipillai.

    The released detenus were bailed as heroes and given receptions
    throughout the country. The Lanka Sama Samaja Party, which its enemies
    had thought had been smashed by the repression, now emerged stronger
    than ever before and with a tremendous prestige.

    Chapter 3 – 1945 to 1950

    The Post War Upsurge

    As happened after the First World War so also after the Second,
    resentment against the sufferings and privations of as well as the new
    lessons learned from the experiences of the war years led in most
    countries to a powerful upsurge of the mass movement. Ceylon was no
    exception. Although the upsurge did not reach revolutionary heights as
    in several countries, the pent-up feelings of the masses burst forth
    in a variety of ways with the relaxation of the repressive
    restrictions of the war period.,

    The Lanka Sama Samaja Party played an important part giving guidance
    and direction to this upsurge. To be sure the biggest upsurge was in
    the working class movement. But it would be a mistake to suppose that
    this awakening was confined to the workers. It manifested itself in
    various ways among all sections of the common people.

    The peasant cultivators of the countryside were chafing under the
    war-time regulation under which they were compelled to sell their
    surplus paddy to Government at the rate of Rs. 8/- per bushel. The
    Lanka Sama Samaja Party was quick to place itself behind the demand
    for the abolition of this war-time practice and for the raising of the
    price of a bushel of paddy. In late 1945 under its leadership there
    was organised the All-Ceylon Peasant Congress which conducted an
    agitation in the rural areas on this question. The Hewagam Korale
    branch of this organisation launched a direct action struggle under
    which peasant cultivators refused to hand over their paddy to
    Government. Court action was filed against hundreds and some went to
    jail. In 1946 the Congress organised a peasant march to the State
    Council, which was a success. It was after this agitation that the
    then Minister of Agriculture, Mr D.S. Senanayake substituted the
    system of purchase of paddy by CAP Societies for the old system of
    compulsory collections by Government.

    It was also in this period that there occurred the free education
    struggle. In the middle of 1945 the State Council had adopted the Free
    Education Bill brought by the then Minister of Education, Mr C.W.W.
    Kannangara. While the Lanka Sama Samaja Party certainly cannot claim
    credit for this piece of legislation it might be noted that, in spite
    of the disability of illegality, the party was not behind the times
    even on this question. While in jail in 1944 N.M. Perera wrote a small
    book entitled “Free Education ”which urged the adoption of a system of
    free education in Ceylon.

    Under the Bill, the managements of the various schools were given the
    option of coming into the scheme. While most schools came into the
    scheme, some chose to continue as fee-levying schools. There were a
    number of strikes of students in such schools (supported by the common
    people of the area) to compel the managements to enter the scheme and
    provide a free education for the children. The LSSP participated
    actively in this movement.

    The existing State Council had been elected as far back as 1936 and
    had long since ceased to be representative of the people. With the
    example of Britain and other countries holding elections even before
    the conclusion of the war, the case for an immediate general election
    in Ceylon was unanswerable. The leaders of the Ceylonese bourgeoisie,
    however, showed no appreciation of this need. The party accordingly
    placed itself at the head of the agitation for an immediate
    dissolution of the unrepresentative State Council and for fresh
    elections.

    It was in this immediate post-war period, too, that the United
    National Party was started. Hitherto the Ceylonese bourgeoisie had
    utilised the Ceylon National Congress as their political instrument.
    However, Mr D.S. Senanayake, the most powerful leader of the Ceylonese
    capitalists, had left the Ceylon National Congress in the period of
    the war as a protest against the decision of the Congress at that time
    to admit the Stalinists into its fold. Further, the Ceylon National
    Congress had long since been a Sinhalese organisation, where as Mr
    Senanayake saw the need for having a national party including also the
    Tamils in order to increase his bargaining power in the forthcoming
    discussions with the British Government on constitutional reforms. And
    finally there was also the fact that the Ceylon National Congress,
    discredited in the eyes of the public, had been reduced almost to an
    empty shell. Accordingly, under the leadership of Mr D.S. Senanayake
    the United National Party was launched in June 1946 in preparation for
    the General Election which was fixed for 1947.

    The Lanka Sama Samaja Party unhesitatingly characterised the new party
    as the political party of the Ceylonese bourgeoisie. It further
    described it as an agency of imperialism in Ceylon and warned the
    masses against placing the slightest trust in it. As the Lanka Sama
    Samaja Party had been the only political party in Ceylon to oppose the
    war of the imperialists, so also it was the only party in Ceylon in
    this period to call upon the masses to fight intransigently against
    the United National Party as the arch enemy of the people.10

    From that time up to now, the Lanka Sama Samaja Party can proudly lay
    claim to having been, of all political parties, the most consistent
    and determined opponent of the United National Party.

    Working Class Struggles

    The end of the War Saw a wave of workers’ strikes. On September 19th
    1945 there was a spontaneous strike of 10,000 Colombo workers who
    demanded to see the Board of Ministers. After a prolonged tramways
    strike, the strike spread to the harbour and other places in November.
    In these initial actions, most of the workers who participated
    belonged to unions affiliated to the Ceylon Trade Union Federation,
    controlled by the Communist Party. However, the political line of the
    Communist Party prevented them from giving a militant lead to the
    workers. Their role in these actions was generally the tailist one of
    trying to get the workers back on the promise of some minor
    concession.

    On November 22nd the Samasamajist-led union of motor workers launched
    its island-wide bus strike. N.M. Perera, Philip Gunawardena, Somaweera
    Chandrasiri, W.J. Perera, George Perera and Leslie Goonewardene (who
    had just returned to Ceylon from India) were arrested and prosecuted
    for supporting a strike in an essential service. The strike was a
    success, and the most stubbornly anti-union section of the capitalists
    in Ceylon, namely, the bus owners, were compelled to make important
    concessions.

    In this early post-war period the Lanka Sama Samaja re-commenced its
    trade union activity in cooperation with the Workers’ and Peasants’
    Union of A. Gunasakera who at that time was the leader of a group
    known as the Radical Party.11 The Ceylon Federation of Labour, which
    had been registered as a federation of unions by this group, was taken
    over by the Samasamajists. Unorganised workers sought unionisation
    under party leadership. Important unions, such as the Harbour and Dock
    Workers Union, were formed as a result of the militant leadership
    given by the LSSP in the course of strikes. In the Jaffna peninsula,
    the organisations of all the bus workers and other sections of
    workers, under the leadership of C. Tharmakulasingham, came over to
    the LSSP, giving the party for the first time a working class base in
    the North.12 And finally several unions which had accepted the
    leadership of the Communist Party during the war came over to the
    Samasamajists.

    In a bid to avert the great struggle of the Government workers that
    was preparing under the leadership of the LSSP-led Government Workers’
    Trade Union Federation, in December 1945 the Government voted an extra
    Rs. 6 million to increase the wages of Government workers. But this
    altered nothing.

    In 1946 at the tail end of a stubborn two months old of the bank
    clerks, the first General Strike took place. On October 16th the
    Government workers struck. The railway strike was well-nigh complete
    and of itself brought many establishments to a standstill. The strike
    was soon extended to the Harbour, the Gas Company, Municipal workers
    and various private firms. The official figure given by the Government
    of the number of strikers was only 24,000. But the real figure was
    probably twice as large. The Lanka Sama Samaja Party, controlling as
    it did the unions of the Government workers, who were the backbone of
    the strike, was in effective leadership of the strike. But a central
    strike committee was formed to lead the strike, composed of
    representatives of all participating unions and parties.

    For several days the Government refused to negotiate. But when the
    strike continued with undiminished strength, gradually bringing
    economic life to a standstill, the Acting Governor on October 21st
    agreed to meet a deputation of the Government Workers’ Trade Union
    Federation. The deputation was permitted to bring along one adviser
    with them and the Federation chose N.M. Perera for this function.

    However, on the following day, shortly before the time fixed for the
    interview with the Acting Governor, N.M. Perera was arrested by the
    police, quite clearly for the purpose of preventing him from
    participating in the negotiations. The workers’ delegation went to
    Queen’s House and met the Acting Governor, but refused to come to a
    settlement in the absence of N.M. Perera. In the end N.M. Perera had
    to be released and negotiated a settlement together with the
    delegation of the Federation. The Government workers’ strike was
    settled on the promise of several important concessions. However, some
    of these promises were not honoured, and provided the reason for the
    Second General Strike of the following year. After this settlement,
    settlements were negotiated with the employers in other sectors.

    The conducting of the General Strike of 1946 enormously increased the
    prestige of the party generally and particularly among the workers. It
    accelerated greatly the process of integration of the party in the
    working class and its development into a working class party in the
    true sense of the word.

    The Second General Strike, taking place at the end of May and early
    June 1947, was not such a success and ended in defeat. It came about
    as a result of the broadening out of a strike of engineering workers,
    the government workers coming into the struggle because of the
    unfulfilled promises of the previous year. But the strike of the
    railway workers was not complete and the trains continued to run. On
    the other hand the Government clerks came out on strike under the
    leadership of their organisation, the Government Clerical Service
    Union. Also, the unions of the Communist-led Ceylon Trade Union
    Federation came out in greater strength than the previous year. As
    previously, a central strike committee was appointed to conduct the
    strike. However, on this occasion the attitude of the Government as
    well as private employers was much stiffer, and they refused to
    negotiate.

    On June 5th, a procession of several thousands of strikers, for which
    permission had been duly obtained, was proceeding with N.M. Perera at
    its head, when a large force of police barred its passage at
    Dematagoda and baton charged it. N.M. Perera was knocked down and
    beaten while on the ground. The police also fired 25 rounds into the
    demonstration, as a result of which 18 were injured and 1 killed. The
    martyr was V. Kandasamy, a Government clerk.

    This act of repression, while it roused the resentment of the masses
    generally, had a damping effect on the strike itself. After a few days
    most of the clerks had returned to work. The workers stuck out longer,
    but in the end sections of them too returned to work. Ultimately the
    strike was officially called off. The strike was not only a defeat, it
    was a smash-up. Thousands of Government clerks, Government workers and
    workers in private employment were victimised. A Public Security Bill
    giving the Government various repressive powers had also been rushed
    through the State Council in the latter days of the strike.

    After the defeat of the General Strike of 1947 the trade union
    movement entered a period of ebb. This slump was to continue for some
    years. As it had done on the occasion of the formation of the United
    National Party, so also in this situation the Lanka Sama Samaja Party
    correctly discharged its responsibility to the mass movement. While
    drawing the political lessons of the defeat, it warned the workers
    against adventurist struggles and explained that this was now a period
    in which the workers had patiently to rebuild their shattered
    organisations in preparation for the next wave of struggles.13

    The Split in the LSSP

    In the latter period of the war, after the escape of the leaders from
    jail in 1942, a faction struggle developed within the party. There
    were no differences in regard to programme or policy. The differences
    centred mainly around organisational questions. One faction called
    itself the Bolshevik-Leninist faction and declared that the other
    faction was attempting to dilute the party and convert it into a loose
    organisation. The other faction, calling itself the Workers
    Opposition, declared that the party machine had been captured by a
    group of intellectuals who were obstructing the expansion of the party
    among the working class.

    After the release of the leaders from jail and the re-commencement of
    open mass activity the split became open, and two groups began to
    function in the name of the Lanka Sama Samaja Party. While N.M.
    Perera, Philip Gunawardena, and Robert Gunawardena were among those
    who associated themselves with one group, Doric de Souza, Edmund
    Samarakkody, Bernard Soysa and William Silva were among those who
    associated themselves with the other group. The Bolshevik Leninist
    Party of India, of which the LSSP was a unit, continued to recognise
    as its Ceylon unit the organisation with which it had maintained
    contact throughout the war years, and on October 8th 1945 took the
    step of expulsion of N.M. Perera and Philip Gunawardena from the
    party. When this decision was announced in the newspapers on behalf of
    the Bureau of the Bolshevik Leninist Party of India by a letter signed
    by Colvin R. de Silva and Leslie Goonewardene, the split in Ceylon
    became definitive, and for the time being not capable of healing.

    The split in the LSSP was very unfortunate and prevented the LSSP from
    reaping the full benefits of a period in which the general popularity
    and prestige of the Samasamajists was very high after its principled
    and fearless opposition to imperialism in the war years. This fact
    was, indeed, realised generally, and a short-lived attempt at unity
    was made at the end of 1946 which failed after a few months. However,
    one gain achieved during this short period of unity was the nomination
    of candidates for the forthcoming, General Election, Fortunately both
    parties adhered to this list of candidates, so that no clash occurred
    between the two Trotskyist parties in the general election of 1947.

    Some time after the failure of this early attempt at reunification,
    the LSSP which was recognised by the BLPI, realising the confusion
    arising from two parties using the same name, and recognising that the
    other and larger party was considered in fact by the masses to be the
    Lanka Sama Samaja Party, decided to change its name to Bolshevik
    Samasamaja Party.

    The months and years that followed, however, only demonstrated that
    there were absolutely no principled political differences between the
    two organisations and that this division in the ranks of the
    Trotskyists was not only being exploited by rivals in the political
    field but was proving a distinct advantage to the class enemy. The
    Gampaha by-election in 1949, in which both the Trotskyist parties
    contested, led not only to an easy victory for the United National
    Party, but to unfortunate physical clashes between the two Trotskyist
    parties. The desire for unity grew in both parties, and in early 1950
    a joint council of both parties was set up, to co-ordinate the public
    activities or both parties with the perspective of unification within
    a period of six months.

    Before the middle of the year the Lanka Sama Samaja Party by a
    majority decision and the Bolshevik Samasamaja Party unanimously
    decided to unify under the name of Lanka Sama Samaja Party and at a
    Joint Conference held on June 4th 1950 formal unification was
    achieved. T.B. Subasinghe was elected Secretary.

    Unfortunately many of those who had voted in the LSSP against the
    unification proposal split away and under the leadership of Philip
    Gunawardena set themselves up as a separate organisation using the
    same name. The capitalist press, which has always opposed the party,
    utilised the situation to try to give the party a new name, namely
    Nava (New) Lanka Sama Samaja Party, in order to create the impression
    that it was a new party and not the Lanka Sama Samaja Party. History,
    however, has long since given its verdict on this question. And the
    verdict has been against the editors of the capitalist newspapers.

    The 1947 Elections

    The 1947 General Election was held under the new Soulbury
    Constitution. Held from August 23rd to September 20th that year, it
    took the shape of a struggle against the United National Party. The
    United National Party for its part, recognising in the LSSP its
    principal enemy, concentrated its attack on the Samasamajists. Huge
    posters depicting burning temples, churches or mosques declared: “Save
    the Country from the Samasamaja Fire. ”The main burden of UNP
    propaganda was that the Samasamajists would destroy religion.

    The masses, however, closed their ranks in a struggle to defeat the
    UNP. Even the Communist Party, which had entered the election campaign
    supporting the UNP against the LSSP, was compelled to modify its
    position.14

    A noticeable feature of the campaign was the enthusiastic manner in
    which particularly those workers who had participated in the General
    Strike a few months earlier threw themselves into the election
    struggle. The very defeat of their economic struggle appeared to have
    driven them to seek a political solution of their problems. Especially
    the demand for the reinstatement of the victimised workers in the
    General Strike played an important part in the election. This demand,
    in fact, continued to be an issue in all subsequent elections, up to
    and including the General Election of 1956.

    As stated earlier, the two Trotskyist parties did not clash, the
    division of seats arranged during the brief period of unity being
    adhered to by both organisations. Both parties contested a total of 38
    seats. The LSSP won 10 seats, while the other LSSP (which soon after
    the elections became the Bolshevik Samasamaja Party) won 5 seats. The
    UNP won 42 seats, the CP 3, the Ceylon Indian Congress 7, the Tamil
    Congress 7, and Independents 20. The LSSP thus emerged as the second
    largest party, next to the UNP.

    The result or the election had not really been a victory for the UNP.
    Although it had won 42 out of a total of 95 elected seats, it did not
    seem possible for it to obtain a working majority. The situation was
    really resolved by the Governor, who called upon Mr D.S. Senanayake to
    form the government. With 6 nominated members added to the UNP figure,
    the total came to 48, and after that it was not difficult to get the
    support of several Independents, and later of the Tamil Congress.

    In the Parliament of 1947 the role of leadership of the Opposition
    devolved in fact on the LSSP as the second largest party. However, it
    was not till the unification of the two Trotskyist parties in 1950
    that it was possible, with the cooperation of the MPs of the Bolshevik
    Samasamaja Party which was then obtained, to secure for the leader of
    the LSSP Parliamentary Group the official position of Leader of the
    Opposition in Parliament.

    In the election of Senators by the House the LSSP was able to secure
    the election of W.K. Jinadasa, and the BSP of D.W.J. Perera as
    senators. It is worthy of note that the first motion moved by D.W.J.
    Perera in the Senate was a motion calling for the abolition of that
    body!

    The new mass position gained by the LSSP in the post-war period
    brought with it its own organisational problems. We had remarked
    earlier that during the war the party had altered its constitution so
    as to limit its membership to those who engaged in some regular
    activity as members of a party group or organisation. On the other
    hand this raised the problem of maintaining adequate contact with a
    very wide layer of conscious supporters of the party both in town and
    countryside. The party organisation was far too small for this task.

    A solution to this problem was found in practice by the form of
    organisation called the Sama Samaja Youth League. This is a peripheral
    organisation of the party and is composed of people who accept the
    leadership of the party but do not have to conform to the strict rules
    which apply to party membership. These leagues are formed on a
    territorial basis and establish close ties with the people of the area
    by taking up local issues.

    The first conference of these Youth Leagues was held in 1949 when
    Philip Gunawardena was elected President and Basil Silva Secretary of
    the All-Island Congress of Sama Samaja Youth Leagues. These youth
    leagues were first formed principally from the members of the peasant
    organisation to which we had occasion to refer earlier. After the
    unification of the two Trotskyist parties in 1950 this Sama Samaja
    Youth League movement grew by leaps and bounds with a wide network
    reaching even remote parts of the country. It must be stated that in
    all political struggles that have taken place in the past ten years,
    whether they be election struggles or direct struggles like the Great
    Hartal of 1953, the Youth Leagues have played an exceedingly important
    role and have served as the main link between the party and the
    masses.

    Chapter 4 – Ebb and Revival

    Consolidation of the Right

    The years following 1947 witnessed a consolidation of the forces of
    the Right under the leadership of the UNP and a stagnation of the mass
    movement. There were several reasons for this.

    In the first place, in February 1948 there occurred the transfer of
    power by the British. Ceylon acquired the status of a Dominion by the
    Governor becoming a constitutional head without arbitrary powers and
    the Ceylon Parliament becoming a sovereign body. This change of policy
    on the part of British Imperialism had been brought about by the mass
    struggles for independence that had taken place in the countries of
    South East Asia and more particularly in the neighbouring British
    possessions of India and Burma. The bourgeois leaders of Ceylon
    represented the matter as evidence of the success of their policy of
    cooperation with the imperialists. Whether the people accepted this
    explanation or not the fact remained that political power had indeed
    been transferred to Ceylon, and this helped to strengthen the UNP.15

    In the second place, the boom conditions, particularly in relation to
    rubber, that came during the years of the Korean War, placed the
    Government in a financially good position and enabled it to grant many
    concessions to the masses in this period. The reduction in the price
    of rationed rice to 25 cents a measure in 1951 and the increase in the
    price paid by the Government to the peasants for their paddy, from Rs.
    8/- to Rs. 9/- a bushel in 1951, and from Rs. 9/- to Rs. 12/- in 1952,
    are deserving of special mention.

    Finally it should be noted that in this period for the first time in
    Ceylon’s history there was built a bourgeois party with a mass
    following. The Ceylonese bourgeoisie, which is predominantly a
    plantation bourgeoisie, had slept during the war years when its big
    brother in India was leading an oppositional movement to imperialism.
    It was awakened only after the war when it saw the upsurge of the
    masses with the Samasamajists in the vanguard and instinctively
    recognised the threat that this represented to its very existence.
    Earlier, the bourgeois leaders of Ceylon, distrustful and a little
    afraid of the masses, had generally avoided mass political meetings.
    Now they began to compete with the Leftists in open air rallies, even
    though in most cases the masses had to be provided with free transport
    to attend them. Mass membership drives were made, and a streamlined
    electoral machine was set up. The lack of self-sacrifice in the rank
    and file workers was compensated for by the funds which national and
    foreign capitalists were only too ready to contribute. The Ceylonese
    bourgeoisie, scared into activity by the “Red Danger”, and utilising
    all the advantages that accrued to it from being in control of the
    state machine, built the United National Party as the bastion of
    capitalist and imperialist interests in Ceylon. They were also
    responsible for the many reactionary features of the Soulbury
    Constitution which loaded the dice against working class parties in
    parliamentary politics.

    It was in this period too that the Government introduced a series of
    repressive legislative and administrative measures calculated to
    cripple the mass movement and the workers’ movement in particular.
    Even before the elections of 1947, towards the end of the unsuccessful
    General Strike of that year, the Government had rushed through the
    Public Security Ordinance and the Police Amendment Ordinance. Soon
    after, in the early period of the first Parliament, the notorious
    administrative regulation 208 B, which placed a ban on all public
    servants engaging in political activity of any sort, was passed. In
    1948 an amendment to the Trade Union Act placed a number of
    restrictions on the trade unions of public servants, including even a
    denial of their right to form a federation of unions of such public
    servants. Soon after, came the Citizenship Acts and an amendment to
    the Constitution which denied the franchise to several hundreds of
    thousands of plantation workers of Indian origin who had exercised the
    vote since 1931, and imposed such conditions as made it impossible for
    all but a small fraction of these workers to obtain Ceylon
    citizenship. Needless to say the Lanka Sama Samaja Party opposed all
    these repressive and anti-democratic measures of the Government.

    We noted earlier that the Trotskyist parties had united in 1950. This
    was an important occurrence. It gave new hope and courage to
    thousands. The united Lanka Sama Samaja Party grew in numbers,
    strengthened its organisation and expanded its activities. But all
    this could not reverse the historical ebb that was taking place. This
    was illustrated in the Balangoda by-election in April 1951, where the
    LSSP candidate fought the UNP candidate and was defeated by a very
    large majority.

    Nor was the situation materially altered by the split-away of Mr
    S.W.R.D. Bandaranaike and his group from the UNP in July 1951. The Sri
    Lanka Freedom Party was formed almost immediately afterwards as a
    Centre Party with a programme of moderate reforms. Whether the newly
    formed party broke more support from the Left or from the Right is a
    matter for speculation. But of this there can be no doubt. The
    split-away from the UNP did not succeed in reversing the general trend
    to the Right.

    The 1952 Elections

    It was in this context that the General Election of 1952 took place.
    With the sudden death of Mr D.S. Senanayake in March 1952 and the
    succession to the premiership of his son, Mr Dudley Senanayake, the
    latter decided to seek a mandate from the country, and fixed the
    General Election for May 24th, 26th, 28th and 30th.

    As early as November 1951 the LSSP had written to the SLFP asking for
    a meeting to discuss the elimination of contests in the General
    Election which was even at that time considered a distinct
    possibility. No reply was at the time received to this letter.
    However, with the dissolution of Parliament, representatives of the
    two parties met for the above-mentioned purpose. It was not found
    possible to avoid a number of clashes, and the discussions were,
    generally speaking, unsuccessful. But it was decided to issue a
    statement pointing out the quite large number of seats in which
    clashes had been avoided.

    Discussions with the Communist Party were even less successful. At
    this time the Communist Party was working in a united front called the
    CP-LSSP United Front, which had been formed with those LSSPers who,
    under the leadership of Philip Gunawardena, had split away at the time
    of the unification in 1950. The discussions with the CP-LSSP United
    Front consisted largely of an effort to see whether programmatic
    agreement was possible. This was found to be not possible.16

    The Party contested the elections with a 14-point anti-imperialist and
    anti-capitalist programme under the slogan of a Samasamaja Government.
    This slogan, however, did not have anything but a propaganda value,
    since only 40 seats were contested out of a total of 95. As for the
    UNP, realising that the issue of religion which they had raised in
    1947 would no longer work, except among the Catholics, they
    concentrated on the Indian question. Their main attack on the Left
    generally and the LSSP in particular was that the Samasamajists were
    pro-Indian and would betray Ceylon to India.

    The elections resulted in a big victory for the UNP, which won 54
    seats, thus obtaining a clear majority in Parliament. Whereas in the
    1947 elections 98 of its candidates had obtained 751,432 votes, in the
    1952 elections 81 candidates obtained 1,026,025 votes. The SLFP
    contested 48 seats, won 9 seats and obtained a little over 3 lakhs of
    votes. The LSSP contested 40 seats, won 9 seats, and obtained a little
    over 3 lakhs of votes, that is to say, practically the same number of
    votes as were obtained by the 38 candidates of both the Trotskyist
    parties in 1947. The CP-LSSP United Front contested 19 seats and won 4
    seats, obtaining 134,528 votes.

    Many reasons have been advanced to account for the victory of the UNP
    in 1952, such as the disfranchisement of nearly 200,000 workers of
    Indian origin, the clash between the anti-UNP parties of the Centre
    and Left, the better organisation of the UNP, and the sympathy for the
    new Prime Minister after the death of his father. While all these
    factors were present, some more important than others, it would be
    incorrect to ignore that the principal political factor was a
    noticeable turn to the Right on the part of the voters.

    The LSSP and the SLFP had each won 9 seats. But the position of
    Leadership of the Opposition which the LSSP had held in the first
    parliament, now went to the SLFP, the MPs of the CP-LSSP United Front
    backing the candidature of Mr S.W.R.D. Bandaranaike for this post.

    The UNP victory naturally had a dampening effect on the masses
    generally. It had repercussions within the party too, as we shall see
    later. Some of the weaker elements in the party began to wobble. A
    good example of this was the case of W. Dahanayake, MP for Galle (and
    later to become a Prime Minister of Ceylon) who had to be expelled
    from the party for indiscipline. He broke an express direction of the
    Central Committee by welcoming and garlanding the UNP Prime Minister,
    Mr Dudley Senanayake, on the occasion of his visit to Galle.

    The Great Hartal

    Soon after it came into power the UNP Government of 1952 found it
    necessary to impose certain burdens on the masses. The price of sugar
    was increased and a cut was made in the rice ration. The LSSP was not
    slow to take up these questions and conduct an agitation among the
    masses. As a protest against the cut in the rice ration N.M. Perera
    presented, as a first instalment, a petition with 50,000 signatures
    collected by the party and youth league organisations.

    In 1953 the UNP Government proceeded still further with its economy
    drive, placing all the burdens of its financial difficulties on the
    backs of the masses. Rail fares and postal rates were increased, the
    free mid-day bun given to school children was stopped, and most
    serious of all, the price of rationed rice was increased at one fell
    stroke from 25 cents to 70 cents a measure! Mass resentment was all
    the stronger against this last mentioned action because the masses
    remembered very well that one of the important propaganda points in
    the UNP election campaign of the previous year had been the fact that
    it was supplying rice at 25 cents a measure.

    The LSSP took the lead in the agitation against these measures.
    Meetings were held in all parts of the country, leaflets were
    distributed, and demonstrations were staged. Mass organisations and
    institutions like local bodies, feeling the pressure of the masses,
    began to pass resolutions demanding a reversal of these policies.

    When it became clear that the Government was not budging from its
    position, the LSSP took the lead in inviting the other anti-UNP
    parties to consider the question of direct action in the situation. At
    these discussions it was finally decided to call on the masses to
    observe a one-day hartal as a protest. On that day black flags would
    be hoisted, children would not go to school, employees would not go to
    work, shops would be closed, and people would generally desist from
    their normal pursuits, observing the day as a day of mourning. In the
    end, of all the political parties that had associated themselves with
    the agitation, in addition to the LSSP, only the CP-LSSP United Front
    and the Federal Party remained when it came to a question of action.
    The SLFP took the position that it was not opposed to the idea of a
    hartal in principle but was not convinced that the people of Ceylon
    had come to a stage when they could do such a thing. The Ceylon Indian
    Congress was prepared only to go as far as the holding of meetings on
    that day, but not to engage in strike action. Only the LSSP, the
    United Front and the Federal Party remained to conduct the action.
    But, with the support of the masses, this proved to be sufficient.

    Agitation was stepped up, an appropriate date was decided on and the
    trade unions and other mass organisations were prepared for action.
    The date finally decided on, namely, August 12th was not made public
    too early. The Government took counter-measures in an effort to
    intimidate the masses. State employees were warned that they would be
    dismissed if they did not turn up for work, cooperative stores were
    ordered to keep their doors open, the military were paraded on the
    streets to frighten the people, the government- owned radio as well as
    the capitalist press screeched their propaganda in an, effort. to
    discredit the campaign, and every pressure that could be brought to
    bear by the state machine and the capitalist class was utilised to
    make the hartal a failure. One capitalist newspaper actually went so
    far as to anticipate events by putting out its morning edition with a
    banner headline announcing “Work Goes on Today”.

    The hartal, of course, was an even greater success than had been
    anticipated. The workers struck, transport was disorganised, and
    economic life came to a standstill in the towns. In the rural areas,
    the masses set up road blocks and disorganised telegraphic
    communications. The strike in the plantation areas was partial on
    account of the non-participation of the Congress.

    The movement reached its height in the coastal areas of the Western
    and Southern Provinces. Under the leadership of Samasamajists, in
    Egoda Uyana the masses stopped and literally “captured ”a train, in
    Waskaduwa one mile of railway line was removed by men, women and
    children in the night, and in the Southern Province, boulders were
    rolled onto the roads by the people, which were so large that, after
    the hartal, the police had to use dynamite to blast them because they
    were too heavy to move. The hartal, planned for one day only was
    officially called off by the participating organisations the following
    morning.

    Let this be said to the credit of the masses. Violence they did use,
    in their wrathful protest against the Government which had cheated
    them. But this violence was directed, not against persons, but against
    inanimate objects such as railway lines, buses, telegraph posts and
    the like, in order to disrupt communications. In contrast to this, the
    violence of the Government was directed against persons. The police
    and military fired on the people, killing nine. In Gasworks Street,
    Colombo, young Edwin, a member of the Pettah Sama Samaja Youth League
    defied alone an order to disperse, opening his red shirt, baring his
    breast and inviting the military to shoot. This they did, and Edwin
    fell, riddled by bullets. He died on the way to hospital.

    Thousands were injured as a result or shootings and baton charges, or
    arrested and detained in jail. An Emergency along with a curfew was
    declared on the 12th afternoon, which lasted for several weeks. The
    printing presses of the LSSP and CP were sealed under the Emergency
    powers. And hundreds of cases were filed against individuals
    throughout the country.17

    But the masses had shown that they were not prepared to take the blows
    of the capitalist government lying down. In a period when the UNP
    Government appeared to be all-powerful, the masses had seen the power
    of their own strength. The Great Hartal marked the turning point in
    the ebb of the mass movement. It shattered the myth of the
    invincibility of the UNP and prepared the ground for the defeat of
    that party in the elections of 1956. Further, the hartal was the first
    mass political struggle in Ceylon. It revealed the revolutionary
    strength of the masses and helped to reinforce the self-confidence of
    revolutionists.

    The Lanka Sama Samaja Party will always be justly proud of the role
    that it played in the hartal. Eschewing sectarianism it sought and
    obtained the cooperation of all those prepared to join the struggle,
    and the hartal was called in the name of the Joint Committee of all
    those organisations. There is no gainsaying, however, that in the
    action itself, the effective leadership was in the hands of the LSSP.
    Specially heroic was the role of the thousands of Samasamaja Youth
    Leaguers who led the militant actions of the masses in town and
    countryside on August 12th.

    The Split of 1953

    After the decisive victory of the UNP in 1952 moods of discouragement
    began to grow in the party. This was also a time when the victory of
    the Chinese Revolution had evoked a tremendous admiration throughout
    South East Asia. In this situation the political ideas of Stalinism
    commenced once again to gain ground within the party. The first sign
    of this appeared at the Special Conference of October 1952.18

    At this conference a minority resolution sponsored, among others, by
    T.B. Subasinghe, Henry Peiris and William Silva, declared that in the
    elections the party should have put forward the slogan of a Democratic
    Government which would have meant “at its lowest level a Bandaranaike
    Government ”and “at its highest level a Government by a Sama Samaja
    majority”. It also took the position that the party should “enter into
    the closest possible agreement and cooperation with the CP and Philip
    Group in the trade union and political fields”.

    This resolution was defeated at the Conference, which decided that the
    party should strive for a “united front with the CP, the Philip
    Gunawardena group and the CP ”not on a comprehesive political
    programme but “on a programme related to the present needs and
    consciousness of the masses”. With regard to non-working class parties
    like the SLFP, the Republican Party and the Federal Party, it was
    decided that the attempt should be to draw them into united action on
    specific issues.

    In line with the decisions of the Conference the party conducted
    united front talks with the CP-LSSP United Front in 1953. The talks
    failed in July of that year because the Lanka Sama Samaja Party was
    not prepared to give up its right to criticise the Government of the
    USSR, the Eastern European countries and China, when it considered
    such criticism was necessary in the interest of the working class
    movement. In spite of the failure of the negotiations the party
    decided to work for united action wherever this was possible.

    It was clear, however, that the difference in the party was growing,
    and arrangements were made for the resolution of the question through
    a party conference after a thorough discussion in the party of two
    resolutions stating the two points of view. All that happened in this
    connection demonstrates very well the democratic methods of
    functioning which have become a tradition of the LSSP.

    Articles in support both of the resolution of the leadership and that
    of the “opposition ”were freely published in the Internal Bulletins
    which were distributed to the entire membership. Discussions were
    organised in the party locals, a representative of one side going on
    one day and of the other side on another day, to explain the two
    different points of view. And at the Conference itself held in October
    1953 equal time was apportioned to the speakers of each side.

    The resolution of the Political Bureau on the national situation was
    passed, receiving 259 votes, while the minority resolution was lost,
    receiving 125 votes, Thereupon, the supporters of the minority led by
    William Silva walked out of the Conference, splitting away from the
    party. In other words, the democratic process had worked so completely
    that those who had differences of a fundamental nature with the party
    realised this themselves and left of their own accord.

    The party lost a third of its membership in that split, and its
    enemies gleefully imagined that the Lanka Sama Samaja Party would not
    recover from the blow. But as in the past, so also on this occasion,
    the Lanka Sama Samaja Party showed that this was far from the case. To
    be sure, on account of the split the party was unable to reap the full
    benefits, politically and organisationally, of its role in the hartal
    of August 12th, 1953. But within a year the party had made up its
    losses, demonstrating that the Lanka Sama Samaja Party is not just
    another party, but fulfils a definite historical need of the mass
    movement in Ceylon.

    In contrast with the rapid revival of the LSSP, what happened to those
    who split away? They tried to hold together, but they succeeded in
    doing this only for a short time. It was not long before they
    scattered. Eventually some of them went into the organisation of
    Philip Gunawardena, others into the Communist Party, while yet others
    left politics or steered clear of affiliation to any political party.

    1953-1955

    The period from 1953 onwards saw a gradual revival in many fields. In
    the local government elections of 1954 the party for the first time
    participated in a large way, and was able to assume the administration
    in 7 Village Committees, 3 Urban Councils and the Colombo Municipal
    Council.

    Unfortunately, in the local government elections even a No-Contest
    agreement could not be obtained with CP-LSSP United Front. As far back
    as June 1952 the LSSP had taken the initiative in trying to get the
    United Front to fight the then impending Colombo Municipal Council
    elections on a joint programme with the LSSP. All local government
    elections were, however, postponed at that time by the UNP Government.
    However, even in the 1954 elections it was not possible to come to any
    agreement because of the insistence of the United Front that full
    political agreement should be arrived at.

    One of the results of this attitude was that even when N.M. Perera
    became Mayor of the Colombo Municipal Council in August 1954, the
    cooperation of the Municipal Councillors of the CP-LSSP United Front
    was not forthcoming. On the other hand, the UNP Government pursued a
    policy of obstruction in relation to the Mayor, and not much positive
    result could be achieved. After a little over a year, with the
    crossing over of a CP Municipal Councillor to the side of the UNP, the
    Mayoralty went to the UNP.

    It was in this period commencing from 1954 that the mercantile
    employees embarked on a series of well organised struggles in which
    the recalcitrant Employers’ Federation was compelled to negotiate and
    grant concessions. These struggles reached their high-point in the
    General Strike of Mercantile employees of March 1956, just prior to
    the General Elections. These successful actions did much to revive the
    confidence of the workers and pave the way for stable unions capable
    of real collective bargaining.

    The wresting of the leadership of the Ceylon Mercantile Union away
    from the labour boss, Mr Goonesinghe, was accomplished after the
    General Strike of 1947. In this process, as well as the subsequent
    building of this union into one of the most powerful trade unions in
    Ceylon, the role of P.B. Tampoe deserves mention.

    Since the war, the party had agitated for the establishment of
    diplomatic and trade relations with the socialist countries, and the
    China-Ceylon Rice and Rubber Agreement that was concluded in 1952
    constituted a victory for this policy. In 1953 the party conducted an
    agitation for the conducting of this trade entirely through state
    channels.

    In 1954 the party established relations with the Asian Socialist
    Conference and Colvin R. de Silva attended the meeting of the Bureau
    of that organisation in Tokyo as a fraternal delegate. However, this
    connection was destined to be short-lived. When the Asian Socialist
    Bureau insisted on the party disaffiliating itself from the 4th
    International as a condition for the continuation of this connection,
    the party politely but firmly informed that organisation in March 1955
    that this was out of the question.

    The party contested the Alutnuwara by-election in May 1955. The UNP
    won the seat. But in spite of the backwardness of the area and the
    fact that both the SLFP and CP also contested, the party acquitted
    itself creditably, coming second.19

    The CP-LSSP United Front brok up into its two component parts at the
    beginning of 1955 as a result of internal dissensions. The party
    signed a united front agreement with the LSSP led by Philip
    Gunawardena in April 1955, under which the two organisations agreed to
    cooperate to the maximum extent possible. A joint council was set up
    hnd a united May Day rally was held. But the agreement was not to
    last. With the failure, later in the year, to come to an agreement on
    the allocation of seats for the forthcoming General Election, the
    agreement died a natural death.

    Chapter 5 – The New Era

    The Language Question

    1956 saw the dawn of a new era. This new period was characterised not
    only by an increased consciousness among the masses with regard to
    their economic rights, but even more by a cultural renaissance among
    the Sinhalese. This renaissance took the form principally of an effort
    to elevate the position of the Sinhala language in the state and
    society and also of an attempt to revive the customs, traditions and
    arts of the Sinhalese and to restore Buddhism to the place it had
    occupied in past history. Unfortunately, however, on the question of
    the Sinhala language, which was the most important question, the
    demand took the form of a movement to make Sinhala the sole official
    language to the exclusion of Tamil, which is spoken by quite
    considerable minority.

    In April 1955 the political resolution adopted at the Party Conference
    had stated as follows: “The potentiality of this new factor in our
    politics [the language problem] has not in fact been grasped by our
    party thus far. We have no doubt seen the swabasha question as a
    question of national unity, but we have not sufficiently grasped the
    necessity or the potentialities of advocating it in the form and as a
    means of the struggle for the completion of our national independence.
    The party will certainly have to take up the swabasha weapon much more
    as its own instead of leaving it in wrong and reactionary hands.”

    True, even after the Conference the party did not sufficiently grasp
    the importance of the question and make a determined effort to work
    according to the spirit of this resolution. But even if it had done
    so, to put it at its lowest, it is extremely doubtful that the party
    could have altered the course of subsequent events. For, the movement
    represented by “Sinhala Only ”became, not only a movement for raising
    the status of the Sinhala language to the status of an official
    language, but also a movement against the Tamil minority. This
    movement was fed not only by historical factors but also by economic
    competition between the two communities particularly in relation to
    jobs. The fact that no mass struggle for independence had taken place,
    fostering a common bond of Ceylonese consciousness in the two
    communities, made such a development all the easier.

    The natural leadership of this movement of cultural renaissance among
    the Sinhalese went to the SLFP, which in 1955 changed its language,
    policy from Sinhalese and Tamil as state languages to one of Sinhala
    as the sole official language. This leadership was further
    consolidated when, shortly before the General Election of 1956, the
    SLFP combined with the LSSP of Philip Gunawardena to form the Mahajana
    Eksath Peramuna.

    The Lanka Sama Samaja Party was the only party with a base among the
    Sinhalese that stood firmly right to the end by its policy of both
    Sinhala and Tamil as official languages. Even the Communist Party
    latterly changed its position on this question.

    In October 1955 a public meeting held by the party on this question in
    the Colombo Town Hall was attacked by a hostile crowd with brickbats
    and bombs, while the police stood by.20 The police finally moved into
    action only to baton charge and disperse those who were leaving the
    meeting after it had concluded. Both friend and foe have expressed
    their admiration of the party’s devotion to principle. But there is no
    gainsaying that the party has paid a heavy price for its stand. It
    lost heavily among the Sinhalese masses. And although it has won the
    sympathy of wide sections of the minorities this has far from
    compensated for the losses.

    The party’s position on the question of citizenship of workers of
    Indian origin on the plantations has also cost the party a price, but
    the effect of this has been principally in the up-country areas.
    However, the party has never ceased its opposition to the unjust
    citizenship laws, and has adhered to its position that those who are
    permanent residents who desire to make Ceylon their home should be
    granted citizenship. (The corollary of this is, of course, that the
    others should become Indian citizens, so that there is no category of
    “stateless ”people left.)

    As a revolutionary socialist party, the Lanka Sama Samaja Party could
    not have acted otherwise. For, as distinct from opportunist
    politicians to whom power is an end in itself, to the LSSP power is
    only a means to an end. That end is socialism. And it knows that
    socialism cannot be built except on the basis of the unity and willing
    cooperation of the masses of all the communities that inhabit Ceylon.
    And that unity and cooperation can only be achieved by a correct
    attitude to the problem of the minorities.

    The UNP Defeat of 1956

    Realising that the principal task facing the country in the
    forthcoming elections was the defeat of the United National Party, the
    party quite early took the initiative in calling for talks with the
    Sri Lanka Freedom Party, and in September 1955 a No-Contest Pact was
    signed between the LSSP and the SLFP, In accordance with the situation
    prevailing in the country a majority of seats was assigned to the
    SLFP.

    Shortly before the elections the SLFP formed a front with certain
    other organisations like the LSSP of Philip Gunawardena, the Basha
    Perumana, and even individuals, called the Mahajana Eksath Peramuna
    (MEP), for the purpose of the elections, After this, the No-Contest
    Pact with the LSSP was partially broken by MEP candidates not
    belonging to the SLFP contesting the LS5P in several seats assigned to
    the party. The party, however, conscious that the task was to defeat
    the UNP, did not aggravate the situation by any attempt at reprisals.

    The election campaign became a veritable mass struggle against the
    hated capitalist UNP. UNP leaders going to election meetings were
    greeted with black flags and buns strung up in a row (to illustrate
    the withdrawal of the free mid-day bun given to school children). And,
    to add to the anti-capitalist sentiments of the masses, in the
    Sinhalese areas there was the new factor represented by the language
    question. The UNP, at a party conference held immediately prior to the
    election, had itself changed its language policy to one of Sinhala
    only. But this action was only greeted by the masses with derision.
    They were firmly convinced that what the UNP really stood for was
    English only!

    The elections resulted in a rout of the UNP. The principal
    significance of the election result lay in the fact that for the first
    time the masses had broken away from the leadership of the big
    bourgeoisie. The UNP which had put forward 76 candidates won only 8
    seats, securing a total of 738,551 votes. The MEP which had put
    forward 60 candidates won 51 seats, with 1,046,362 votes. The LSSP
    which had put forward 21 candidates, won 14 seats, polling 274,204
    votes. The Federal Party, with 14 candidates won 10 seats, polling
    142,036 votes. And the Communist Party, with 9 candidates polled
    119,715 votes, winning 3 seats.

    The LSSP took its seats in the Opposition and, as the single largest
    party in the Opposition, the Leadership of the Opposition fell to it.
    However, at the commencement, the LSSP defined its attitude to the new
    MEP Government as one of “responsive cooperation”. This attitude
    however changed to one of opposition very soon, when the Government
    introduced its “Sinhala Only ”Bill. This was the occasion for minor
    riots. But in 1958, when a pact which the Prime Minister, Mr
    Bandaranaike, had concluded with the Federal Party broke down, there
    were widespread riots and killings, followed by a period of Emergency
    which lasted several months. For a number of months political life was
    at a virtual standstill.

    In its three and a half years of office the MEP did have certain
    achievements to its credit. It nationalised bus transport and the
    Colombo Port. It introduced the Paddy Lands Act and the Multi-Purpose
    Co-operatives. It started the National Provident Fund. To all
    practical interests and purposes it took over the naval and air bases
    from the British. It established diplomatic relations with the
    Socialist countries. It gradually reinstated the Government employees
    dismissed after the General Strike of 1947. And it reversed the
    anti-trade union policy of the UNP Government. The LSSP solidarised
    itself with these progressive acts.

    However, there was plenty on the debit side as well. The
    nationalisations were not the success that was expected because the
    Government was not prepared, in spite of the repeated insistence of
    the LSSP, to give the workers a share in the management of
    nationalised concerns, preferring to run them on bureaucratic lines,
    with the same old capitalist managerial methods. The reforms in
    agriculture could not be properly implemented and the new
    co-operatives could not forge ahead because of the absence of planning
    and co-ordination and because of opposition within the Government
    itself to these measures.

    Workers’ problems were not faced up to and tackled, but constantly
    postponed, leading to widespread strikes. An anti-democratic Public
    Security Amendment Act was passed giving extraordinary powers to the
    Prime Minister. And no attempt was made to introduce even the
    beginnings of a planned economic development. In 1959 the Prime
    Minister announced that it was not proposed to take up the question of
    the nationalisation of the plantations for another 10 years. Finally,
    Sinhalese communalism and Tamil communalism, which were roused to a
    high pitch by the policies of the Government itself and by the public
    declarations of many of its leaders, resulted in widespread rioting
    and Emergency rule, which threatened the unity of the country and
    brought the normal administration practically to a standstill. Even to
    think of economic development in such conditions was not possible.
    Such is the irony of history. The very question which more than any
    other had helped to bring the MEP Government to power proved to be the
    biggest obstacle in the way of the progress of that Government.

    The Trade Union Upsurge

    The victory of the MEP in April 1956 was greeted with joy by all
    sections of the masses. But no section was happier than the workers.
    Having suffered under the anti-union policies of the combined forces
    of the employees and the Government, the workers welcomed the advent
    of the MEP Government as ushering in a new era for the workers.

    The new Government itself declared that its policy was to encourage
    the growth of trade unionism. Whether this policy was effectively
    translated into action is a different matter. Shootings and killings
    of striking workers demonstrated that the police at least were
    following a different policy. But the workers took the Government at
    its word, and the period from 1956 onwards saw an unprecedented
    development of trade unionism in Ceylon.

    At first the workers did not wish to embarrass the new government by
    strikes. Although their wage demands were acute in a situation where
    the cost of living was rapidly rising, they waited patiently for over
    a year in the hope that the Government would take measures that would
    grant them relief.21 The Government, however, postponed all these
    questions.

    Finally, driven to desperation, the Government workers, organised in
    the LSSP-led Government Workers’ Trade Union Federation, launched a
    two-day strike in November 1957. It was a General Strike of railway
    workers and spread into other sections of government workers too. A
    number of demands were won, including a Rs. 17-50 Special Allowance
    and the securing of permanency or temporary monthly paid status for
    thousands of casual workers.

    The widespread floods of December 1957 brought the strike wave to a
    temporary halt, but at the end of February a large number of workers
    in engineering firms, hotels, shops and certain other establishments
    in the private sector, belonging to the unions affiliated to the
    CSSP-led Ceylon Federation of Labour, went on strike. The principal
    demand was the Rs. 17-50 Special Allowance. In April of that year a
    big strike was called by the LSSP-led Ceylon Trade Union Federation.
    The majority of strikers were those engaged in the tea and rubber
    packing trades in Colombo. A strike of the Government clerical
    employees was also called at the same time. While the police attacked
    the striking clerks the armed forces paraded the streets in an effort
    to intimidate the strikers. It was only after a vehement protest by
    the Ceylon Federation of Labour that the armed forces were taken off
    the streets.

    The wave of workers’ struggles came to an end only in the latter half
    of May with the sudden outbreak of communal rioting and the
    declaration of a State of Emergency. But in a few months, even before
    the Emergency was lifted, isolated workers’ strikes were taking place.
    And the middle of 1959 saw further economic struggles, some of them
    big strikes like the strike in the harbour, conducted by the LSSP-led
    United Port Workers Union and the strike of the mercantile employees
    called by the Ceylon Mercantile Union.

    As distinct from economic struggles a one-day political strike that
    took place on March 3rd 1959 deserves special mention. An amendment
    was introduced in Parliament to the Public Security Act, giving
    extraordinary new powers to the police and armed forces if the Prime
    Minister is of opinion that the public security is endangered or such
    danger is imminent. The LSSP-led Ceylon Federation of Labour took the
    initiative in convening a meeting of representatives of all the trade
    union centres and principal trade unions. This conference, composed of
    the Ceylon Federation of Labour, the Government Workers’ Trade Union
    Federation, the Ceylon Workers’ Congress, the Democratic Workers’
    Congress, the Ceylon Mercantile Union and a number of other unions,
    finally decided on a one-day protest strike on March 3rd. There was no
    question of course of the unions led by the SLFP or Philip Gunawardena
    group participating in an action against the Government, while the
    CP-led Ceylon Trade Union Federation, although it was against the
    Bill, was not prepared for action on this issue.

    When this anti-democratic piece of legislation came before Parliament,
    the party Members of Parliament, in order to demonstrate the extent of
    their opposition and to alert the country to the dangers inherent in
    the Bill, adopted obstructionist tactics and had to be forcibly
    removed from the chamber of the House of Representatives on February
    12th with the aid of the police.

    As was to be expected, the Government, the Press, the Radio, as well
    as the unions led by the Communist Party, the SLFP and the Philip
    Gunawardena group did everything they could to sabotage the strike.
    The March 3rd action as a strike was only a partial success. But it
    fully succeeded in its purpose, which was to register a working class
    protest in an emphatic manner against a reactionary and
    anti-democratic piece of legislation.

    The period commencing with the formation of the MEP Government in 1956
    was one in which, generally speaking, the influence of the party among
    the masses declined. The principal factor contributing to this result
    was the language question of which mention was made earlier. In the
    local government elections at the end of 1956 the party suffered
    reverses outside Colombo, while in Colombo the party suffered a defeat
    that was in the nature of a rout. Its group in the Colombo Municipal
    Council was reduced to 3, while 3 sitting members lost their seats to
    MEP candidates.

    It is worth recording that in the national disaster caused by the
    floods at the end of 1959, the Sama Samaja Youth Leagues lost no time
    in despatching numbers of volunteers to some of the worst affected
    areas for relief work. Several relief camps were opened, especially in
    the North Central Province, and the youth leaguers played a role
    reminiscent of the role played by the Suriya Mal workers in the
    malaria epidemic twenty five years earlier.

    It is also worth mentioning that in this period the party sent two
    delegations to visit and study conditions in China and Yugoslavia. The
    party delegation to China, numbering five, visited China in 1957, and
    a delegation of two visited Yugoslavia in 1959. These visits enabled
    the party to obtain far better knowledge of the concrete and varying
    problems facing these countries in their march forward to socialism of
    the methods they were employing to solve them. But this was not all.
    On the one hand the visits constituted a demonstration by a Trotskyist
    party of its solidarity with workers’ states and their valiant efforts
    on the road to socialism. On the other hand, in these countries the
    visits may have done something to help to dispel the false notion that
    Trotskyists are incapable of building mass parties.

    In May 1959, Philip Gunawardena, Minister of Agriculture and William
    Silva, Minister of Industries, resigned from the Government as a
    protest against the decision of the Prime Minister to remove from
    their charge important departments of which they had up to then been
    in control. This was a sequel to strained relations that had been
    developing between them and the right wing in the Cabinet. A small
    group splitting away with them did not affect the Government majority
    in the House of Representatives. However, important and unforeseen
    events were soon to take place to bring about the downfall of the
    Government.

    The Present Period

    On September 25th, 1959, an assassin shot the Prime Minister, Mr
    S.W.R.D. Bandaranaike. The following day he succumbed to his injuries
    and the Leader of the House at the time, Mr W. Dahanayake, was sworn
    in as Prime Minister. The first reaction of the entire nation to the
    tragedy was one of shock. But as time went on, public dissatisfaction
    began to grow with regard to the manner of investigation into the
    circumstances of the tragedy. Within Parliament and outside, the Lanka
    Sama Samaja Party took the lead in bringing many matters to light, in
    criticising official apathy and in demanding a full inquiry into the
    political conspiracy behind the assassination.

    The Dahanayake Government was not destined to last long. After a few
    weeks the new Prime Minister unceremoniously dismissed his SLFP
    Ministers, formed a new party with some of the Right Wing SLFPers and
    not having a majority in Parliament, dissolved Parliament and arranged
    for a General Election.

    Like the General Election of 1952, that of March 1960 was one in which
    each political party made its own independent bid. Unable to come to
    programmatic agreement with either the Communist Party or the Mahajana
    Eksath Peramuna (which name was taken over by the organisation of
    Philip Gunawardena) the LSSP made its own independent bid for power,
    fighting 100 seats (out of a total of 151) on an anti-capitalist
    programme.

    The results were as follows. The UNP, putting forward 127 candidates
    won 50 seats, polling a total of 901,082 votes. The SLFP, with 108
    candidates won 46 seats, polling 654,767 votes. The LSSP, with 100
    candidates won 10 seats, polling 325,250 votes. And the MEP, with 89
    candidates, won 10 seats polling 322,794 votes. True, this was the
    highest number of votes polled so far at a General Election by the
    party. Even in the General Election of 1947 the combined votes of the
    Trotskyist parties had amounted only 317,213. But there was no getting
    away from the fact that the election result was a defeat It was also
    clear that the wave of Sinhalese communalism represented by the cry of
    “Sinhala Only”, though not as powerful as in 1956, was still an
    important factor and prevented large numbers of anti-capitalist minded
    people who would otherwise have voted for the LSSP from voting for the
    LSSP, which took the position of making Tamil also an official
    language. The Indian question was also a question which adversely
    affected the party in upcountry areas.

    Very soon after the election results were known, Mr Dudley Senanayake,
    the leader of the United National Party, the largest single party, was
    called upon by the Governor General to form a Government. While the
    formation of the UNP Government was greeted with jubilation by the
    propertied and privileged strata of society, Ceylonese and foreign
    alike, to the toiling masses the day of the return to power of the
    hated UNP was like a day of mourning. The only ray of hope was that
    the UNP was still a minority government not commanding a majority in
    Parliament. In this situation the LSSP bent all its efforts to secure
    the downfall of the UNP Government as early as possible, doing
    everything it could to stiffen the ranks of the Opposition in the face
    of blandishments from the side of the UNP till the date when the vote
    on a motion of Confidence would be taken. The UNP Government was
    defeated on the vote on the Address of Thanks to the Throne Speech.22
    The Governor General instead of calling upon the SLFP Leader of the
    Opposition to form a Government, gave in to the request of the UNP
    Premier to dissolve Parliament and hold a fresh election.

    Once again the LSSP, realising the needs of the situation, entered
    into a No-Contest and mutual support pact with the SLFP and the CP,
    and as in 1956 laid the basis firmly and truly for the defeat of the
    UNP in the General Election of July 1960. The results of the March
    election had shown that the masses by and large had chosen the SUP as
    their main weapon to defeat the UNP. The results also demonstrated
    that very large sections of the masses, especially in rural areas,
    considered the SLFP too to be a leftist party capable of radical
    anti-capitalist measures. For them, this had to be tested out in
    experience. Accordingly, under the electoral agreement, while the SLFP
    contested 98 seats, the LSSP contested only 21, thus paying the way
    for the formation of a SLFP Government after the defeat of the UNP.
    However, the programme of demands put forward by the party in this
    election campaign was identical with what it had put forward in the
    March election when it had fought under the slogan of a Samasamaja
    Government.

    In spite of the complete unity of the propertied classes and their
    utmost efforts, aided by the state machinery which was under the
    control of the UNP, the UNP was defeated in the July General Election.
    Although its 128 candidates polled 1,145,607 votes it won only 30
    seats. The SLFP won 75 seats, polling 1,011,661 votes. The LSSP won 12
    seats polling 214,693 votes. A SLFP Government was formed immediately
    afterwards with Mrs Sirima Bandaranaike as Prime Minister.

    The Lanka Sama Samaja Party, while functioning as an independent group
    bound neither to the Government Party nor the Opposition Party, today
    adopts a position of general support of the Government, holding itself
    free to criticise the Government as well as vote against it where it
    disagrees. This support it will continue to give so long as the
    Government, in line with its socialist professions, subserves the
    needs of the mass movement for socialism.

    This is a short, indeed a very short, history of the Lanka Sama Samaja
    Party during the first twenty five years of its existence. Twenty five
    years is a short period in history. But it is long enough a period for
    one to discover the programme, the character, the physiognomy and the
    traditions of a party. The attentive reader would have discovered many
    such features which have become a part of the Lanka Sama Samaja Party.
    In particular he could not have failed to note its irreconcilable
    opposition to imperialism and capitalism, its passionate defence of
    democratic rights and its sincere regard for democratic processes, its
    socialist internationalism as well as its deep desire for a real
    national unity forged on the mutual trust of the different communities
    who inhabit our country, and last but not least its revolutionary
    faith in the capacity of the masses to achieve.

    The history of the Lanka Sama Samaja Party shows that its path has not
    been a smooth one. There have been times when its enemies predicted
    that it would not rise again. But they were proved to be wrong. On the
    other hand, the Lanka Sama Samaja Party has also had its victories.
    Its history contains its chapters of glory. But inspiring through
    those episodes may be, the most glorious chapters have yet to be
    written.


    Notes

    1. Terence N. de Silva died in 1959.

    2. B.J. Fernando was the composer of the international song of the party.

    3. To give but one example the word “pakshaya”, meaning “party”, used
    to be used loosely and incorrectly in the thirties to describe the
    words “class”. It is the Samasamaja movement that popularised the
    correct word “panthiya ”in this connection.

    4. V. Sittampalam died in 1945.

    5. Reggie Senanayake died in 1946.

    6. Henry Peiris died in 1959.

    7. V. Balasingham died in 1944.

    8. Rathu Wijesinghe died in 1958.

    9. David Perera died in 1944.

    10. The Communist Party in this period characterised the UNP as a
    front rather than a party. While admitting that it had a reactionary
    leadership it nevertheless stressed that there were progressives in
    its ranks. This led it to decide on a policy that was in fact pro-UNP
    and anti-LSSP for the forthcoming election of 1947.

    11. This group was under the influence of the ideas of M.N. Roy of India.

    12. C. Tharmakulasingham died in 1949.

    13. This warning was specially important at the time because the
    Communist Party, acting in the interests of contemporary Soviet
    foreign policy, was engaged in adventurist actions.

    14. The Communist Party put forward a candidate against N.M. Perera at
    Ruanwella, for example, but later withdrew their nomination. This
    candidate finally contested as an Independent.

    15. The LSSP took the position that although legally power had been
    transferred, independence was a fake one on account of the economic
    domination of Ceylon’s economy by the imperialists, the continuation
    by Britain of military bases in Ceylon, and the existence of a secret
    defence agreement, explicit or implied, with the British Government.
    This position has undergone modification over the years, with the
    virtual evacuation of the bases under the MEP Government of 1956-59
    and the absence of evidence of a secret defence agreement.

    16. Programmatic agreement was not possible, because the United
    Front’s aim in the elections was the creation of a “democratic
    government”. In the elections the CP-LSSP United Front supported SLFP
    candidates against candidates of the LSSP.

    17. The Lanka Sama Samaja Party, conscious of its responsibilities,
    saw to it that a free defence was supplied by the party in these
    cases. Happily, it was possible to secure acquittals in mast cases.

    18. It has always been the practice of the LSSP, as a democratic
    party, to hold conferences regularly and also whenever the situation
    demands it. After the unification Conference of 1950, there were party
    Conferences in February 1951, December 1951, October 1952, October
    1953, April 1955, February 1957, July 1959, April 1960 and May 1960,
    making a total of 10 Conferences in the past 10 years.

    19. The voting was as follows: UNP – 5,291, L55P – 2,177, SLFP – 964, CP – 504.

    20. Reggie Mendis lost his left hand through the bursting of a bomb.

    21. The only major strikes in this early period were the strikes of
    the dock workers. And even these strikes were sparked off in September
    1956 by the Harbour and Dock Workers Union, controlled by Philip
    Gunawardena, a Minister in the MEP Government.

    22. The MEP remained neutral in the decisive vote, in keeping with the
    line that it put forward of a National Government, which could only
    have meant a Government under the leadership of the UNP.