Former Sri Lankan President Chandrika Kumaratunga has lashed out at the Mahinda Rajapaksa regime for forgetting the legacy of the world’s first elected woman government head, her mother Sirimavo Bandaranaike.
On July 21, 1960 Bandaranaike became Prime Minister of Sri Lanka, known as Ceylon at the time. Her accession to power came a year after her husband, SWRD Bandaranaike was assassinated.
But Kumaratunga, Bandaranaike’s younger daughter, has alleged that the current dispensation has completely forgotten the powerful legacy that her mother created and left behind in becoming the first woman prime minister.
It was during Bandaranaike’s second term as PM that Ceylon was renamed Sri Lanka and became a republic.
Kumaratunga told BBC Sinhala service that the government has an “obsession against” the Bandaranaike family.
“She was not remembered except for ordinary people. The government of her own party - my party also - neither the party nor the government did anything at all to remember her or her achievement. I think it is very petty minded and it is disgusting,” Kumaratunga, who herself was the country’s first woman executive President, said. “She put us on the world map. She was a leader of the Non Aligned Movement, she took leadership in many other international negotiations.”
Kumaratunga added that her mother was a ``very sincere and strong democrat. At no point in her political career did she condone any anti-democratic actions.”
During her political career, Bandaranaike was Prime Minister on three occasions and led the Sri Lanka Freedom Party (SLFP) – both Kumaratunga and Mahinda Rajapaksa belong to SLFP – for years.
``Sirimavo Bandaranaike was no ordinary woman. But this wasn’t just because she was the world’s first woman prime minister,’’ former Indian high commissioner to Sri Lanka, Gopalkrishna Gandhi recently wrote in an article in Hindustan Times.
As for her daughter, Kumaratunga has been maintaining a low political profile for the last few years. Though belonging to SLFP, she, however, openly supported former army chief, Sarath Fonseka, in the January 26 Presidential election.