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Ceylon Dry Eyed and Flying High.pdf

Ceylon Dry Eyed and Flying High.pdf

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Published by Veeramani Mani
Mrs. Bandaranaike, a Buddhist who was educated in a Catholic convent school, rashly promised to ship the Tamils back to South India, where they originated. Tenacious or not, the new first lady of Colombo is not going to be able to redeem that pledge without bloodshed
Mrs. Bandaranaike, a Buddhist who was educated in a Catholic convent school, rashly promised to ship the Tamils back to South India, where they originated. Tenacious or not, the new first lady of Colombo is not going to be able to redeem that pledge without bloodshed

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Ceylon: Dry-Eyed and Flying High -- Printout -- TIME

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Monday, Jun. 08, 1970

Ceylon: Dry-Eyed and Flying High
When Mrs. Sirimavo Bandaranaike entered politics in 1960, she campaigned on the reputation of her late husband —a former Prime Minister of Ceylon who had been assassinated five months earlier—and all but inundated the lovely, spice-scented island with her tears. A plump, matronly woman who had served contentedly as the dutiful wife of a strong-willed man and the mother of three children, she was reluctant to run. Finally she announced: "It is a duty I owe to my late husband." The tactics of grief worked, and she became the world's first female Prime Minister, serving for five years before she was defeated by conservative Dudley Senanayake. Last week, after a completely dry-eyed campaign, Mrs. Bandaranaike returned to power in a runaway victory that gave her Communist-backed Sri Lanka Freedom Party 96 of Parliament's 157 seats. Communist Cells. Though the official campaign lasted only a month, the 54-year-old widow toured 120 constituencies and addressed 250 rallies. At every stop, she denounced Senanayake and his United National Party for cutting every citizen's weekly free-rice ration from four to two pounds, for boosting food prices 500%, for trebling unemployment and for causing a 16% increase in the cost of living over the past two years. In the face of that barrage, Senanayake's own figures proved less appealing. By halving the free-rice ration and more than doubling domestic rice production since 1965, he was able to reduce rice imports to less than half of what they had been, thereby saving precious foreign exchange. With a national budget of $500 million, an impressive $90 million goes to maintain free education right through the university level. Statistics aside, Senanayake noted that "her ladyship" and her Freedom Party had formed a United Front coalition with the Trotskyite Lanka Sama Samaja Party and the pro-Moscow Communist Party and warned that a victory for that grouping would mean "the end of our democratic setup." Senanayake

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Ceylon: Dry-Eyed and Flying High -- Printout -- TIME

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made a special target of Mrs. Bandaranaike's proposed "people's committees," which critics described as ill-disguised Communist cells. The election swung on rice-bowl issues and the fact that thousands of 18-year-olds were voting for the first time. Predicting that the youths would flock to Sirimavo's leftist banner, one Senanayake supporter complained that giving them the vote was "like giving a monkey a knife to cut its own throat." Senanayake barely retained his own seat. His party's representation in Parliament fell from 71 to 17. With her own party holding an absolute majority and her two Communist-coalition partners winning 25 seats—highest in their histories —Mrs. Bandaranaike can carry out almost any program she might wish, including revision of the constitution. Men Are Weak. An untiringly tenacious woman who once remarked that "most men in politics are weak," she is known to keep her promises —good or bad. She has pledged to double the rice ration to four pounds a week, set up people's committees, nationalize foreign banks and the export-import trade, and renegotiate the World Bank's terms for a $930 million dam-building project. To the dismay of many Western capitals, the incoming Prime Minister has also promised to recognize North Viet Nam, North Korea and the Viet Cong's Provisional Government, and to suspend relations with Israel. There is one pledge, however, that may very well bedevil Mrs. Bandaranaike for as long as she holds power. Ceylon's population of 12 million is a highly volatile mixture of Buddhist Sinhalese (66.3%), Hindu Tamils (18.5%), Christians (8.4%), Moslems (6.7%) and assorted animist sects. Sinhalese-Tamil violence has regularly scarred Ceylon. Mrs. Bandaranaike, a Buddhist who was educated in a Catholic convent school, rashly promised to ship the Tamils back to South India, where they originated. Tenacious or not, the new first lady of Colombo is not going to be able to redeem that pledge without bloodshed.
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