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    Vijaya a symbol of reconciliation

    February 13, 2015

    By Asanga Abeyagoonasekara

     

    Vijaya Kumaranatunga was brutally assassinated on the 16th Feb 1988. This year marks the 27th death anniversary of Vijaya who was the founder of Sri Lanaka Mahajana Party (SLMP) which used to be the third largest party at a point in Sri Lanka’s political history. Vijaya and the founding members of Sri Lanka Mahajana Party Ven. Podaramulle Thero, T.B Illangarathna, Chandrika Bandaranayake Kumaratunga with many other created this party as an alternative to UNP and SLFP. Unfortunately, the SLMP almost died down as it lost many members, totally about 117 who were assassinated during the 88 insurrection. Vijaya was the first to be killed from SLMP. I pen down an appreciation in honour of the close friendship my father Ossie Abeyagoonasekera shared with him. Vijaya was commemorated by my father until his death in 1994.

    Vijaya was a symbol of true ethnic reconciliation. During his political life it was evident on multiple occasions. Vijaya’s commitment to find a political solution became evident when he made a journey to Jaffna in 1986 to meet the LTTE leaders such as Kittu and Raheem. Theintention of this journey was to engage in a political discussion in order to free two Sri Lankan soldiers who were detained by the LTTE. Vijaya managed to win the hearts of the people in Jaffna.


    Upon delivering one of his memorable speeches in Jaffna, Vijaya stated the importance of national reconciliation, the need to bridge the hearts and minds of the North and the South. For a politician to utter these words in the political context which prevailed in 1986 requires courage.


    It is noteworthy that he never changed his position despite being called a traitor by some in Colombo after this journey. When most political leaders believed in military campaign, Vijaya initiated a dialogue between North and South at a time where the war aggravated. This stands as a historical moment in the reconciliation process of our Nation.


    Vijaya was not afraid to meet Tamil political leaders to discuss solutions for the ethnic problem. He had a very close relationship even with South Indian leaders such as M.G. Ramachandran(MGR). He had the charisma to win people and people gathered to see him and listen to his speeches where ever he visited. He spoke to build a multiethnic society and he always believed in a political solution for the ethnic conflict.He had a clear vision on devolution of power to resolve the ethnic conflict. At a televised interview he states clearly the reasons for supporting the devolution of power. While many political parties opposed the 13th Amendment to the Constitution for setting up Provincial Councils on the basis of the IndoLanka, Vijaya spoke of the importance of devolution by supporting the UNP’s exercise in devolution of power.


    Vijaya spearheaded late Hector Kobbekaduwa's Presidential contested in 1982. He committed his energy to ensure victory for late Kobbekaduwa who won majority vote in The North but lost the election to JR Jayawardena. Vijaya with few other members of the party were jailed in 1982 as Naxalite prisoners during J.R. Jayawardena’s period in office. They went through many hardships in their political journey.

     

    His personality was such that he managed to bring happiness to everyone, be it through his life as an actor or as a politician. Some who didn’t like his politics loved his movies. Unfortunately you might not find politicians like Vijaya in today's politics as many politicians does not posses the qualities required to be a true, honest, compassionate and dedication to his own country. If Vijaya Kumaratunga was alive he would have added immense contribution to the
    reconciliation process. He would have rebuild co-existence between the North and South which many leaders failed to succeed in. Vijaya was assassinated at a young age of 43 and his dream to create a harmonious society and promote reconcilation among the ethnic groups stands as national priority even today.

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