"The Prime Minister, Mr S. W. R. D. Bandaranaike, continued with his
year-long efforts to convince the people that the
Pact which he had made with the Federal Party a year ago, was a
fool-proof solution of the Communal Problem, inspired by his understanding
of the doctrine of the Middle Way. For instance, a newspaper reported:
"The Prime Minister, Mr. S. W. R. D. Bandaranaike, presiding at the prize
distribution of the Sri Gnanaratna Buddhist Sunday School, Panadura, said
that knotty problems of State had been successfully tackled by invoking the
principles and tenets of Buddhism. 'The Middle Path, Maddiyama Prathipadawa,
has been my magic wand and I shall always stick by this principle,' he
(Ceylon Daily News.)
The yes-men round him smirked complacently whenever he referred to his
Magic Wand for solving problems in that special tone of voice which
accompanies a double entendre.
Mr Bandaranaike said much the same thing when he justified the
Bandaranaike-Chelvanayakam Pact at the Annual Sessions of the Sri Lanka
Freedom Party held at Kelaniya on March 1and 2 (1957). The relevant section
of his Presidential Address is:
"In the discussion which the leaders of the Federal Party had with me an
honourable solution was reached. In thinking over this problem I had in mind
the fact that I am not merely a Prime Minister but a Buddhist Prime
Minister. And my Buddhism is not of the "label" variety. I embraced Buddhism
because I was intellectually convinced of its worth. At this juncture I said
to myself: "Buddhism means so much to me, let me be dictated to only by the
tenets of my faith, in these discussions. I am happy to say a solution was
immediately forthcoming." (Sunday Observer, March 2, 1958.)
But the oftener he defended the B-C Pact the clearer it became that, in the
Prime Minister's own opinion, it needed defending. The longer he delayed its
implementation with the twin instruments of the Regional Councils Act and
the Reasonable Use of Tamil Act, the weaker became the enthusiasm of the
Sinhalese as well as of the Tamils.
The voices of the critics of the B-C Pact seemed to increase in volume and
effectiveness as time went by. At the height of the tar-brush campaign it
became evident that even within the Government Party there was a wide
divergence of opinion about the efficacy of the major miracle of Mr.
Bandaranaike's Magic Wand - the B-C Pact. Even his own kin and henchmen
muttered together in the dark corridors of Sravasti about how unpopular the
Lokka (the Boss) was becoming in the country by persisting in his defence of
the Pact. No one dared to approach him-it was hard to endure the whip-crack
of the Lokka's pliant tongue. Till the last moment he spoke in eulogies
about the wondrous nature of the B-C Pact, of communal harmony, of
brotherhood and of national unity. But no one had yet seen the Bills which
for a whole year were being fabricated by the Legal Draughtsmen. And no one
The Abrogation of a Pact
On the morning of April 9 (1957) a police message reached Mr Bandaranaike
warning him that about 200 bhikkus or monks and 300 others were setting out
on a visitation to the Prime Minister's residence in Rosmead Place to demand
the abrogation of the Pact. They would arrive at 9 a.m.
The Prime Minister left the house early that morning to attend to some very
important work in his office. The bhikkus came, the crowds gathered, the
gates of the Bandaranaike Walawwa were closed against them and armed police
were hurriedly summoned to throw a barbed-wire cordon to keep the uninvited
guests out. The bhikkus decided to bivouac on the street. Pedlars,
cool-drink carts, betel sellers and even bangle merchants pitched their
stalls hard by. Dhana was brought to the bhikkus at the appointed hour for
In the meantime, the Prime Minister was fighting off the opposition to the
Pact among his own party colleagues with desperate fury.
At 4.15 p.m. the B-C Pact was torn into pathetic shreds by its principal
author who now claimed that its implementation had been rendered impossible
by the activities of the Federalists.
The Prime Minister had gone home that afternoon accompanied by half a dozen
Ministers who stood on the leeward side of the barbed-wire barricade while
Mr. Bandaranaike listened to the shrill denunciations of the monks. The
Minister of Health sat on the Street facing the monks and preached a sermon,
promising them redress if they would only be patient. The Prime Minister
consulted his colleagues.
monks had won. The Magic Pact was no more.
But the monks insisted on getting this promise in writing. The Prime
Minister went into the house and the Health Minister, hardly able to
suppress the look of relief on her face, brought the written pledge out to
Yet another victory for Direct Action had been chalked up."