Minister Jayasekera in a message to mark the 70th anniversary of the SLFP said that the party’s founder late Prime Minister S.W.R.D. Bandaranaike left an indelible imprint in the minds of the oppressed.
“The legacy he left behind, following his untimely demise, is forever remembered and it continues to inspire the core direction of the SLFP, he said
Excerpts from the message:
“We today celebrate the 70th anniversary of the SLFP, founded under the prodigious leadership of late Prime Minister S.W.R.D. Bandaranaike in 1951, gifting the country a line of Presidents, Prime Ministers and many great political leaders who represented the true spirit of the Sri Lankan people.
On September 2, 1951, a group of 44 people, in support of S.W.R.D. Bandaranaike, gathered at the Colombo City Hall to form a new political party, including people from different ethnic groups and from different parts of the country. At the inaugural session, the new party was named the ‘Sri Lanka Freedom Party’ until today it has lived up to its name and vision, despite much turbulence it had to face over 70 years.
The SLFP was the pioneer of the “Podu Jana Era” adopting “Social Democracy” as a key policy, bringing the common people together at a single political platform, hitherto, which had been restricted to the elites of the upper echelons of society.
In the 1956 parliamentary elections, the Sri Lanka Freedom Party formed an alliance the “Mahajana Eksath Peramuna”, with the other parties joining the Sinhala Bhasha Peramuna and the revolutionary Lanka Sama Samaja Party, along with the support of five great forces of monks, doctors, teachers, farmers and labourers. Thus becoming the fourth Prime Minister of Sri Lanka, S.W.R.D. Bandaranaike’s influence on the political, economic and social development of Sri Lanka was a profound one, the legacy he left behind, following his untimely demise, is forever remembered, and it continues to inspire the core direction of the SLFP.
Following the demise of S.W.R.D. Bandaranaike, his beloved wife Sirimavo Bandaranaike was sworn in as the new Prime Minister of Sri Lanka on July 21, 1960, setting an international record as the world’s first female Prime Minister. At that time, while some countries were following the socialist economy and other countries were pursuing the capitalist economy, Sirimavo Bandaranaike’s policy was to follow a middle path between the two. She had a great economic, political and social vision that no other politician in Sri Lanka had ever pursued.
Sirimavo’s dedication towards strengthening the domestic economy, conserving local resources, encouraging local industries and agriculture envisioned an independent nation, which up to date the country is yearning for. If the nationalistic economic policies pursued by Sirimavo Bandaranaike at that time were followed for at least another two or three years, Sri Lanka would have been one of the leading developed countries in the world by now.
When the SLFP lost control of the government in 1977, the obstacles it faced as a party were innumerable. However, due to the genuine connection between the SLFP and the people of this country, it regained power in 1994 by defeating the UNP government and making Chandrika Bandaranaike Kumaratunga the Executive President of Sri Lanka in 1994.
There has never been a political party that loved the country as the SLFP did and no other party has produced leaders who have loved the nation as much as the Sri Lanka Freedom Party. In 1994, President Chandrika Bandaranaike Kumaratunga took over a country that had fallen into the dark shadows of war. She gallantly led the nation towards economic success and it almost cost her life for the great leadership she gave to strengthen the Tri-Forces to win the war against the LTTE.
President Mahinda Rajapaksa, taking over the leadership from Chandrika Bandaranaike Kumaratunga following a landslide victory in 2005, led the nation, finally putting an end to the long lasting war, which has been dragging the country towards an economic and social tragedy during the last three decades. In the ensuing period, the SLFP faced the challenge of developing the country devastated by the 30 Years’ War.
After the Mahinda Rajapaksa era, the SLFP produced another exceptional leadership, Maithripala Sirisena, to head the country during one of the most trying times the country has ever befallen. Despite facing various political setbacks, SLFP leader Maithripala Sirisena never lost his love for the party or for the people and he is always committed for the betterment of the nation.”