Ranil: The man and his era


I refer to the above article written by Sarath de Alwis and published on your newspaper on its issue of 19.4.17. In his article, the author refers to the book, "Ranil Wickremesinghe-A Political Biography," which was published recently.

He claims that the book’s reference ( without giving the source ) that J.R. Jayewardene was denied the premiership after D.S. Senanayake’s death in 1952 was fiction and also, what the book said, that S.W.R.D. Bandaranaike was elected to power on the Sinhala-Buddhist race card, too was just fiction.

De Alwis said that after D.S.’ death the premiership should have gone to Sir John Kotalawala, the Leader of the House at that time. On the basis of de Alwis’ argument, then, on September 26, 1959, after S.W.R.D. was fatally shot, the premiership should have had gone to C.P. de Silva, the then Leader of the House. But that didn’t happen. Instead, the premiership was given to W. Dahanayake.

De Alwis said that the book’s reference to S.W.R.D. playing the race card and thereby winning the 1956 parliamentary polls was also false. But one of S.W.R.D.’s clarion calls to woo at least the majoritarian Sinhala voter, if not the majoritarian Sinhala-Buddhist voter, was to make Sinhala the official language of the country within 24 hours if elected to power. A promise which he kept, no sooner he was elected to power in 1956.

On de Alwis’ claim that J.R., once he assumed power made Ranil a deputy minister because he owed his father Esmond a favour, sources close to J.R. said that Esmond had approached discuss possible candidates for the 1977 election, which poll subsequently saw J.R. being swept into power. J.R. refused a specific request from Esmond, but said that he would instead give nominations to his son Ranil who was by then actively involved in the U.N.P. Lawyers’Association.

De Alwis also says that Ranil deserves a more balanced biography, despite making several contradictory statements in the article. The book was totally a private project of Dinesh’s who has worked with Ranil for over 25 years and was not an attempt to boost the image of Ranil, but rather to pay a tribute to a senior political leader who still remains an enigma to those who do not know him well and the sole purpose of the book was to bring out his unseen side through a personal account. Therefore, de Alwis’ comments are typical of an ostrich who has buried his head in the sand.

To correct possible misconceptions that may arise in the minds of your readers after reading the above, I shall therefore thank you to also consider giving adequate publicity to this letter of mine on the pages of your newspaper.


Paneetha Ameresekere,

Journalist and Editor ("Ranil Wickremesinghe-A Political Boigraphy")

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