On his 70th death anniversary
by Prof. Alfred Jayaratnam Wilson, Lanka Guardian, a 4 part series starting January 1, 1992
Front Note by Sachi Sri Kantha
Don Stephen Senanayake (popularly abbreviated by his initials D.S.), the first prime minister of independent Ceylon, died on March 22, 1952. While he has been touted as the ‘Father of the Nation’ by Sinhalese ethnics of the 20th century, Tamils consider him as an ill-educated, village-rustic politician with old fashioned guile as his primary weapon for dominance. I would not be wrong, if I assert that the ‘D’ in his initial fits meaningfully for ‘devil’. This ‘devil’ used guile for his advantage to blunt the demands of literate Tamil leaders of his days in 1930s and 1940s (Arunachalam Mahadeva, C. Suntharalingam and G.G. Ponnambalam Snr.). Though S.W.R.D. Bandaranaike is framed by Eelam Tamils and western authors as the practitioner of expediency politics using language as his prime weapon to capture power in 1956, in my view he had a gentlemanly charm, wit and elite education to be a progressive. That he became a prisoner of his ‘associates’ and couldn’t achieve what he had promoted in his platforms is a different story. Even this Bandaranaike was outsmarted by D.S. Senanayake and chased off from the United National Party (UNP), after the latter had ascended to the prime minister post.
In the words of journalist Mervyn de Silva, “In mounting a revolt against the Senanayake family leadership of the UNP, Mr. S.W.R.D. Bandaranaike’s political calculations were fashioned by two considerations. He had been the boss of the nationalist Sinhala Maha Sabha. D.S. Senanayake, could not be challenged…for the time being, anyway. So S.W.R.D. (B) was willing to suppress the separate identity of his own Sinhala Maha Sabha and accept the No. 2 position in the UNP on the understanding that he would be prime minister after D.S. It is only when he realized D.S. had other ideas that S.W.R.D. (B) established his own Sri Lankan Freedom Party. The SLFP had a more complex ideological character…” [Lanka Guardian, Colombo, Sept. 15, 1992, pp. 3-5]
For his outrageous misdeed in intentionally capturing the traditional homelands of Tamils by his devious colonization schemes to settle Sinhalese peasants in the Dry Zone, I do not hesitate to tag D.S. Senanayake as the ‘Prime Manipulator of Ethnic Friction’. This in reality is a better sobriquet than the ‘Father of the Nation’. The second criminal act of D.S. was his preference to anoint his shy son Dudley Senanayake (1913-1973) to follow him as the prime minister in 1952, over those who had ‘some’ better claims for leadership such as John Kotelawala (1897-1981) and J.R. Jayewardene (1906-1996) in his party. A stupid preference for one’s blood line, set the island’s politics in treating the top executive office along the monarchic tradition, with a surface enamel of voting democracy. Thanks to D.S. Senanayake, Ceylon can claim a pioneer status in this stupid preference, long before such a tradition became entrenched in other Asian countries: Nehrus (India), Bhutto (Pakistan), Rahmans (Bangladesh). Aung Sans (Myanmar), Lees (Singapore), Sukarnos (Indonesia), as well as Hatoyamas and Fukudas (Japan).
Three decades ago, Prof. Alfred Jayaratnam Wilson’s analysis of D.S. Senanayake’s career appeared in four parts, in the Lanka Guardian magazine. For record, I have transcribed all four parts below, to mark the 70th death anniversary of D.S. Senanayake, which falls on March 22nd.
- Barber’s paradigm and personality: D.S. Senayake. Lanka Guardian, Jan 1, 1992; 14(17): 15 & 22.
- From Rebel to Collaborator. Lanka Guardian, Jan 15, 1992; 14(18): 15 & 17.
- The down-to earth Leader. Lanka Guardian, Feb 1, 1992; 14(19): 19-20, 22.
- Restorer of great tank civilization. Lanka Guardian, Feb 15, 1992; 14(20): 16.
It can be noted that Prof. Wilson was privy to some background information about D.S. Senayake’s modus operandi, via his father in law S.J.V. Chelvanayakam’s interactions with D.S. Senanayake in the first parliament of Ceylon. After introducing American political scientist James David Barber’s (1930-2004) classification of four major types of political leaders, based on character, worldview and style of functioning, Wilson had assigned D.S. Senanayake as belonging to the ‘Active-Negative’ type who (1) ‘aim to get and keep power’, and (2) ‘entrenched in their opinions and take criticism personally’.
Barber’s Paradigm and Personality: D.S. Senanayake
[Lanka Guardian, Jan 1, 1992, 14(17): 15 & 22.
James David Barber wrote in his ‘The Presidential Character: Predicting Performance in the White House’ (2nd edition, 1977) that prediction of the behavior of a President (and his paradigm can be applied to prime ministers) is possible if we have access to the subject’s character as developed in childhood, his worldview as formed in adolescence and his style as it emerged in early adulthood. Stephen E. Ambrose, a distinguished revisionist Nixon historian in Nixon: The Education of a Politician, 1913-1962 (1987), without referring to Barber, confirms the latter’s view that a projection of personality can be profiled if we have knowledge of a future president’s early years. Barber’s views are accepted by the American establishment. In recent times, he was requested to apply his paradigmatic formular to produce a portrait of Jimmy Carter.
That the paradigm can be used in predicting prime ministerial performance was illustrated by J.H. Grainger in his Character and Style in English Politics (1969). Grainger had, in a distant way, anticipated Barber but was ever anywhere near the sophisticated paradigm. He stressed character and style in the evolution of the Office of the Prime Minister but his was primarily a study in history.
Barber developed his paradigm in four layers; (1) the President’s personality shapes his behavior, (2) President’s personality is a package in which his character, worldview and style are components of his psycho-dynamism, (3) Presidential personality interacts with the power situation he is confronted with and ‘the climate of expectations’ that prevails during his term in office; this climate of expectation is discerned by (a) reassurance among the people that thinks will be all right and that the President will take care of his people (b) a sense of progress and action especially ‘that the President ought to do something to direct the nation’s course – or at least be in there pitching for his people and (c) the feeling that there is legitimacy in the office he has been elected to, that ‘the President should be a master politician’ yet he must also be considered to be above politics, and (4) ‘the best way to predict a President’s character, worldview and style is to see how they were put together in the first place…in his early life.’
Barber stated that there is an ‘orientation’ in childhood ‘towards experience’. Once established, that experience of experience lasts ‘despite much subsequent contradiction’. In adolescence, the focus of attention shifts toward the future’. These themes concluded Barber, ‘come together strongly in early adulthood when the person moves from contemplation to responsible action and adopts a style.’
Barber’s definitions of character, worldview and style are relevant to an understanding of his paradigm. Character is ‘the way in which the President orients himself towards life.’ Worldview comprises the President’s ‘primary, politically relevant beliefs, particularly his conception of social causality, human nature, and the central moral conflicts of the time’. Style is the President’s ‘habitual way of performing his three political roles which are speechmaking, personal relations and homework’. None of these, stated Barber, can be discerned wholly in a personality, adding, ‘it is a matter of tendencies’. Traits are to be found in all of us ‘but in different amounts and different combinations’.
Barber classified his types into four categories.
- The active-positive where ‘there is a congruence, a consistency, between much activity and the enjoyment of it, indicating relatively high self-esteem and relative success in relating to the environment; he is readily adaptable’
- The active-negative juxtaposes ‘relatively intense effort and relatively low emotional reward for that effort’; such types are entrenched in their opinions and take criticism personally.
- The passive-positive who is ‘receptive, compliant, other-directed’ ‘whose life is a search for affection as a reward for being agreeable and cooperative rather than personally assertive’.
- The passive-negative has a ‘character-rooted orientation toward doing dutiful service in order to compensate for low self-esteem based on a sense of uselessness’.
Barber’s view was that the four types will react differently to situations once they obtain office. Thus,
Active-positives want most to achieve results (S.W.R.D. Bandaranaike, J.R. Jayewardene, R. Premadasa).
Active-negatives aim to get and keep power (D.S. Senanayake, Mrs. Sirimavo Bandaranaike, Sir. John Kotelawala).
Passive-positives are after love (Dudley Senanayake).
Passive-negatives emphasise their civic virture (Dudley Senanayake).
And he added ‘the problem is to understand – and to state understandably – what in the personal past foreshadows the future bhaviour of a president’, and in our case, what in their personal past explained the behavior of a prime minister.
The four categories that Barber classified do not exist in watertight seclusion. There is always an overlap. But when we make our assessment, the incumbent will be assessed in the round for to do otherwise will amount to writing a complete biography. And for the purpse of our analysis, we are interested in those dominant traits which led the officeholder to act as he did.
D.S. Senanayake (1947-52), the first prime minister arrived at his position by accident, the death of a brother (F.R.). D.S. however has had a long apprenticeship. The question we need to ask is whether D.S.’s early life and later experience had any influence on his career as prime minister.
The evidence of D.S.’s career up to the early nineteen thirties indicates that he was not the emerging choice though he began laying the groundwork after 1931, the year of the inauguration of the Donoughmore Constitution, to make himself the inevitable senior statesman whom the British colonial authorities could rely on as a safe bet.
From Rebel to Collaborator
[Lanka Guardian, Jan 15, 1992, 14(18): 15 & 17.]
[N.B.: Dots between sentences, wherever they appear, are as in the original.]
The period prior to 1931 leaves room to wonder what his ambitions were. D.S. had his secondary education at Saint Thomas’s where he did not shine. He did not proceed to any institution of higher learning. Instead he took to managing the family business. We have no available information on the influence that his father. Mudaliyar Don Spater Senanayake had on him, leave alone his mother. Nor did D.S. make any reference in his public utterances to his parents or even to his well respected brother, F.R. We know that D.S. grew up in the rural background of Botale and he therefore had to be conservative and traditional in his thinking. Nor was his wife helpful given that she was ailing. As for religion, he did not politicize his Buddhism but took it as a fact of life. And indeed he spoke respectfully of the benefits of missionary education because of his pleasant days at Saint Thomas’s.
D.S.’s political experience reached a milepost when the British colonial authorities gaoled him for a short while during the Sinhala-Muslim riots of 1915. But it was not the road to a nationalist Damascus. His performance in the Legislative Council during 1921-31 was not conspicuous though he became a senior spokesman for the Unofficial Members in the early twenties after Sir P. Ramanathan began voicing the concerns of only the Ceylon Tamils. D.S. was not a good speechmaker but could articulate his ideas in his own homespun English.
In 1931, D.S. was elected Minister of Agriculture and Lands and this led him to launch the various irrigation schemes in the dry zone. He did not count this as a political plus. His own experience as an agriculturist in managing the family estate and the possibilities of carving for himself a niche in restoring the ancient irrigation works of Sinhala kings could possibly have been motivating factors. However his Agriculture and Patriotism (1935) commonly attributed to the civil servant who functioned as his Commissioner of Lands (A.G. Ranasinha) indicated an interest in populating these areas with Sinhala colonists.
The years after 1931 provide evidence of the unfolding of D.S.’s political aspirations. D.S. was a big ‘bonhomous’ man whose personality could overpower rivals or charm people. He was fortunate in having the backing of the press baron, D.R. Wijewardene. He had the cooperation of able civil servants including the deft Oliver Goonetilleke, a distant family connection. In the second half of the thirties, D.S., the rebel against Britain had transformed himself to a willing collaborator, the reason being that self-government was more achievable in this way than by following the path of the Indian National Congress. But he did not toe the British line altogether as was for example witnessed when he resigned over the Mooloya incident (1940).
By the late thirties D.S. had achieved three major objectives: (1) the senior statesman, the aging Baron Jayatilaka was got out of the way and D.S. succeeded him as Leader of the State Council; (2) prime ministerial material such as G.C.S.Corea and S.W.R.D. Bandaranaike was edged out; as early as after the elections to the Second State Council in 1936, D,.S. had told D.R. Wijewardene that ‘Claude Corea (g.c.s) had to be watched’. Dr. N.M. Perera thought that G.C.S.Corea was a possible prime minister. And Dr. Perera stated that Claude Corea ‘was shunted off’ by being appointed, after independence, as High Commissioner in London. As for S.W.R.D. Bandaranaike, J.L. Fernando attributed to D.S. ‘a type of cunning’, in that ‘he used to make occasional suggestions to Kotelawala to ask embarrassing questions from S,WR.D. Bandaranaike…Bandaranaike flared up and used his vitriolic tongue to good effect, sending Kotelawala in turn to a rage…’, and (3) the pan-Sinhalese Board of Ministers had its composition altered with the election of a Ceylon Tamil as Minister of Home Affairs, Arunachalam Mahadeva (1943), in place of Baron Jayatilleka; thus Britain was made to realize that the Sinhala majority was willing to share power with the Ceylon Tamils. This feat of political engineering was accomplished by D,S and his friends. These successes can again be interpreted in terms of a naïve cunning acquired in the hurly burly of the business and political world.
But now we come to the more important questions:
- What were the main themes of FD.S. Senanayake’s prime ministership (1947-52)?
- To what extent was he influenced in his character, his worldview and style in terms of his experience before he entered the high office?
- Where does he fi into Barber’s paradigm?
D.S. was pro-West, in particular pro-British in foreign policy. He was suspicious of an aggressive India. But shrewd as he was, he did not lay all his cards on the table. In domestic affairs he was laissez faire (Let sleeping dogs lie). In ethnic matters, he was opposed to the Indian Tamils, and was desirous of curbing excessive Ceylon Tamil ethnocentrism.
In relation therefore to the Ceylon Tamil and Muslim communities, D.S. went for inter-elitist cooperation preferring to co-opt willing collaborators. Instinctively he disapproved of political controversies trickling down to the monks and the masses (and in this he was correct). He was decisively anti-Marxist, not for any serious ideological reasons but in the interests of the tradition-bound peasantry and the conventional middle class. But he did not pattern a coherent political philosophy either in regard to state or nation building nor in respect of political ideology.
There are more aspects of the ‘active-negative’ than the ‘active-positive’ evidential in the four and a half years that D.S. held the office of prime minister. The active-negative combines intense effort and low emotional reward for that effort; he tends towards entrenched opinions. This was manifest in the way D.S. handled the question of the transfer of power from Britain.
D.S. obtained independence but with conditions attached such as the granting to Britain of naval and air bases in return for a mutual defence agreement under which Britian would come to Ceylon’s assistance in the event of foreign attack. The agreement was devoid of meaning. The only potential aggressor was India against whom Britain would never have reacted. This was the lesson Pakistan’s prime minister Liaquat Ali Khan learned when he sought assurances against an Indian attack from the Attlee government. On 24 June 1949, Ali Khan after failing to secure a military alliance between his country and Britain ‘against Communism’ proceeded in June 1949 to declare his concerns. He told the British High Commissioner in Pakistan, L.B. Grafftey Smith: ‘what I fear is that Great Britain and the world would look on with folded arms if India attacked us’. British policy then was not to offend India, rather to appease India so that India would remain in the Commonwealth and thereby enhance Britain’s prestige as a global power. If this were the case with a major state such as Pakistan what hope could there be of Britain coming to Ceylon’s assistance in the event of an Indian attack?
Furthermore the probabilities of Indian expansionism at this stage were remote, given India’s problems resulting from the partition of the subcontinent, Nehru’s foreign policy, and the emergence of the Non-aligned movement.
The Down-to-Earth Leader
[Lanka Guardian, Feb 1, 1992, 14(19): 19-20 & 22.]
In our view, the bases were Britain’s inarticulate premise for the granting of independence. At the time Trincomalee and Katunayake were necessary for securing Britain’s sea lanes to the ports of Southeast Asia and Australia. The bases became irrelevant after Nasser’s nationalization of the Suez Canal in 1956. Britain therefore readily consented to withdraw when S.W.R.D. Bandaranaike made his request.
D.S. did not see any ‘contradiction’ in his offer. In fact he was shrewd enough to anticipate Britain’s need and to make the offer himself way back in 1945. Thus India as an aggressor was merely a smokescreen. And D.S. once again duped his political opponents into believing that the agreement was needed lest India ‘did a Hyderabad or a Kashmir’. The Anglo-Ceylon defence agreement was thus weighted heavily in favour of Britain.
There are two questions that arose. Firstly there was uncertainty as to S.W.R.D. Bandaranaike’s reaction. D.S. had Oliver Goonetilleke to be the ploy man to persuade Bandaranaike. Bandaranaike was taken in by Oliver Goonetilleke’s subterfuge. At the meeting of the cabinet which confirmed the agreement, Bandaranaike stated, ‘Well, D.S., what my good friend, Oliver claims is that he has persuaded the U.K to grant us a constitution which will enable us to do everything possible in Ceylon immediately after the constitution is promulgated. Within a day we could turn out the British from Trincomalee and Katunayake’. Bandaranaike’s interpretation was not the same as that of Sir Charles Jeffries.
Secondly it is certain that had D.S. Senanayake been defeated on the Address of Thanks after the first Throne Speech, the Governor-General would have granted D,S. a dissolution. If D,S. was returned, the defence agreement would have been signed. If he had been defeated and if the new prime minister had refused to accept the terms of the agreement, Ceylon would not have obtained independence.
Thus Ceylon obtained sovereign status, D.S. became Britain’s legatee and the entire island with its groups in conflict were entrusted to D,S’s care and statesmanship. Ceylon’s Count of Piedmont (Cavour) had won the day. On the debit side, the Soviets sneered at Ceylon’s statehood. D,S. however interested himself more as a Commonwealth statesman than involving himself in the great Non-Aligned Movement or on the international stage.
In domestic affairs, DS. refused to countenance the growing demand for swabasha. He did not want to jeopardize the interests of the Catholic Church in the matter of the ownership of schools. He enacted legislation against the Indian Tamils and Leftist trade unions. His concept of ‘national unity’ was to win over G.G. Ponnambalam and sections of his Tamil Congress. Yet from the very beginning after the general election of 1947 and towards the latter phase with the resignation of S.W.R.D. Bandaranaike, the government of D.S. Senanayake remained a contingent coalition of unstable political tendencies.
D.S. therefore had no enlightened or ambitious world-view being very much a down to earth politician. He was not certain of where he was going nor was he really conscious of the long term effects his policies could have on the new state on especially such vital themes as economic development and planning, winning the cooperation of the Ceylon Tamils instead of coopting some of their leaders as showpieces (Suntharalingam, Sittampalam, Ponnambalam), alienating the Indian Tamils without considering alternatives for their parliamentary representation as via multi-member constituencies or an all-island electorate, and antagonizing the splintered but influential Left wing forces through harsh legislation including the first of the emergency laws.
His character was thus self-evident. Certainly he lacked sophistication in domestic and international politics. In political strategy, he was not even made of the material of the Florentine (Machiavelli) in that he did not use his resources to promote the consolidation of a new state. Craft and diplomacy he had in abundance, characteristics which enabled him to impress on the British his reliability. He was indeed like Count [of] Cavour of Piedmont.
D.S.’s worldview and character were formed on the billows of a rural life of graphite and coconuts. The education at Saint Thomas did not have any great impact. He had superb manipulative skills which were invaluable for politics. In a new state however there was a need for commitment to modernization goals and a need for creative, skillful, resolute and farsighted capabilities. The role of what Bertrand de Jouvenel in Sovereignty: An Inquiry into the Political Good called dux (leader) rather than rex (king or manager), as in a stable and predictable consolidated state was noticeably absent. The Florentine’s observation is relevant here: ‘There is nothing more difficult to carry out nor more dangerous to handle than to initiate a new order of things’ (Machiavelli in The Prince). Unfortunately, D.S. Senanayake with all his perspicacity in dealing with political men did not possess the requirements of a dux.
As for style, D.S. had considerable self confidence as to be straightforward in public speaking without the need for dissimulation. A few of his speeches were written by Sir Ivor Jennings but their substance was in line with his political thinking. Many of his statements in public and in the legislature were off the cuff often prefaced by the phrase ‘actually as a matter of fact’. He did not have to carefully prepare what he stated because he did not have to or want to conceal anything.
In personal relations, D.S. was clever in handling civil servants and politicians. Perhaps the only person who knew him too well as his valet (Carolis) to whom, quite unlike the proverbial saying, he was the hero (J.L. Fernando, Three Prime Ministers, 1963). Higher civil servants were used only to the extent they were necessary. At least one complained that he was not told everything while others were encouraged to maintain their independence against political interference from MPs and ministers. The evidence indicates that the Chairman of the Public Service Commission discussed senior appointments with the Prime Minister and the latter had his say as well as his way. The British notion of an impartial and independent body was abandoned after independence was conferred in February 1948. D.S. utilized his prime ministerial powers in the same way as a U.S. President and quite unlike the primus inter pares type of British prime ministers who until the mid-nineteen seventies tended to consult with their colleagues and cabinets and operate the system in a collegiate manner, even when they adopted a presidential style.
The prime minister did not trust his colleagues fully and perhaps for good reason. His modus operandi in dealing with strong personalities was to use handymen as proxies. O.E. Goonetilleke and E.A.P. Wijeyeratne were examples of Men Fridays. They were ploy men and when it came to delivering, the Prime Minister could of course state that he did not himself personally make any promises that he was bound to keep. He was summarily ridding himself of incubuses such as C. Suntharalingam, R.S.S. Gunawardene and George E. de Silva or elevating E.F.N. Gratiaen to the Supreme Court bench when the latter became an irritant as an Appointed member of parliament. Philip Gunawardene received short shrift as did Dr. S.A. Wickremasinghe who tried and failed to obtain a free pardon so as to contest a seat in the 1947 parliament. He gave to S.W.R.D. Bandaranaike enough rope to hang himself and in the meanwhile promoted a feud between the latter and Sir John Kotelawala over the succession, never intending to bequeath the prize to either. He thus had considerable acumen as a political strategist. But he did not think out the possible consequences of his actions through and through. To that extent, he was a failure, winning in the short run but visiting his country with calamity over the long haul.
D.S. Senanayake did his homework thoroughly. But the work was limited because he did not, like for example Jawaharlal Nehru, have a vision for Ceylon. The steel framework of an administration was left behind by the British as was their social welfare system. Since D.S. Senanayake had no concept of building institutions, of scientific planning or involvement in devising an effective foreign policy, his function became that of a manager who had to run his cabinet, the administration and his pernickety political alliance, the UNP effectively which he did.
Restorer of great tank civilisation
[Lanka Guardian, Feb 15, 1992, 14(20): 16]
D.S. was very much like Tunku Abdul Rahman and his Alliance Party at Malaya’s independence. It was not for D.S. Senanayake to be a Nehru or a Jinnah. Thus on Barber’s paradigmatic scale, D. S. would be an active-negative prime minister.
D.S. Senanayake more than satisfied the ‘climate of expectations’ of, in the main, the conservative Ceylonese bourgeoisie, its bastions, especially the compradore elements of commerce and planting and its entrenched institutions such as the Church and their schools as well as the other component comprising the traditional countryside which was contended with the state’s welfare system and as a whole the agricultural policies that were in place. ‘People’ had confidence that the Prime Minister was an able leader and they would be safe with him at the helm.
Could we have predicted D. S. Senanayake’s prime ministerial performance using Barber’s paradigm? Much of the answer lies in what has already been stated though this has to be accompanied with many an explanation, given the colonial context. As well, D.S.’s character, worldview, style and climate of expectations were discernible in the man’s lone apprenticeship for the office.
A more difficult question is whether this earlier discernment could have foreshadowed the future events. The answer is in the affirmative. After the demise of F.R. Senanayake (1925), D.S. Senanayake inherited the mantle. He had the cooperation of the most influential press baron, D.R. Wijewardene. The boudoirs of Colombo readily accepted him including its haute elements. The only obstacle to a blitzkrieg operation was the ailing and aging Baron Jayatilaka. But, D.S. Senanayake knew that time and tide awaited him. Jayatilaka was moved ‘upstairs’ when he was no longer able to cope.
It was war time. D.S. Senanayake made full use of the opportunity to demonstrate his country’s loyalty. His warm and genial personality and the social backing he commanded did the rest for him. From around the mid-thirties, especially after the Reforms Dispatch of Sir Andrew Caldecott in 1938, there was no doubting that D. S. Senanayake would be summoned as prime minister at the appropriate moment.
D.S. Senanayake had however passed his peak at the time he became prime minister primarily because he was being increasingly smitten by his debilitating diabetic condition. His best phase was the preceding ten years. As Minister of Agriculture and Lands, he had envisioned and implemented irrigation schemes in the dry zone, a successful exercise in the restoration of the great tank civilization of the ancient Sinhalese kings. He was the one and only leader to whom Britain willingly transferred power and he was adept in negotiating that transfer. His personality surely impressed Whitehall as well as others who knew him, Sir Henry Monck Mason Moore, Governor and later the first Governor-General, Mr. L. M.D. de Silva, the distinguished lawyer, Sir Fredrick Rees, member of the Soulbury Commission and Sir Ivor Jennings. For the rest, D.S. Senanayake concentrated on winning the leadership of the movement for constitutional reform, not an easy task given the complexities of communal politics. Surprisingly, D.S. Senanayake was not influenced by the nationalist struggle of Gandhi, the Mahatma, in India, not even as much as expressing any sympathy. An indirect criticism of Senanayake’s leadership by Sri Lanka’s scholars and politicians is that the failure to enlist the masses in an independence struggle is one reason for the postcolonial fissiparousness. But this is a matter open to debate.