by D.B.S. Jeyaraj
The coming week will mark the fiftieth anniversary of a landmark event in the modern, political history of the country. It was on July 26th 1957 that the then Prime Minister Solomon West Ridgeway Dias Bandaranaike and Samuel James Velupillai Chelvanayagam, the leader of the Ilankai Thamil Arasu Katchi – known as Federal party in English – signed an agreement that came to be known as the Banda – Chelva or B- C pact.
The B- C pact which intended resolving, some of the major grievances facing Tamils of Sri Lanka, was the first of its kind , in the post – independence history of the Country. The B- C pact recognized several key elements of the Federal Idea through a scheme of power – sharing. The story of how this aborted pact evolved, deserves to be narrated on its golden jubilee week.
The 1956 elections had seen a deep polarisation between the Sinhala and Tamil communities. While the Mahajana Eksath Peramuna joint front headed by SWRD Bandaranaike swept the polls in the South the Federal Party led by SJV Chelvanayakam won six out of nine seats in the North and four out of seven in the East.
[a Federal Party pamphlet with portraits of key members]
One of the first acts by the new Govt was the enshrining of Sinhala as the sole official language of the Country .On June 5th Tamil Satyagrahis peacefully protesting at Galle face were beaten up by thugs as the Police did nothing. Anti – Tamil violence resulted in several parts of the Country.On June 15th Sinhala was made the only official language by a vote of 56 to 29. [Read full article in:FederalIdea.com]
DBS Jeyaraj can be contacted on: email@example.com
July 21st, 2007