the rift between D.S. and Sir Baron
D.S. Senanayake's association with Sir Baron Jayatilaka
was solid and longstanding. It began as early as 1912 in the days
of the 'Temperance Movement' and was strengthened during their imprisonment
after the riots of 1915. They were members of the Ceylon National
Congress from 1919, the Ceylon Legislative Council from 1924, and
the Ceylon State Council from 1931.
Baron was the Leader of the State Council from its inception in
1931, and 16 years his senior, D.S. Senanayake was the dominant
personality who called the tune and who had a stronger influence
and the support of the State Council. Nevertheless, they formed
a duumvirate and dominated Ceylonese politics for many years.
decline in their close association transpired during the late 1930s,
resulting in Sir Baron's retirement from politics in 1942. The most
important factor that brought about this decline was Sir Baron's
inability to cope with the responsibilities as the Leader of the
State Council and the unpopularity he gained from his incompetence.
As a result, D.S. Senanayake rose to dominate the political atmosphere
further, and became astute in matters that Sir Baron had failed
to identify as important to the future of Ceylon.
of World War II and the responsibilities of the State Council posed
a huge challenge to the aging Sir Baron. The Governor, Sir Andrew
Caldecott, complained that Sir Baron was too senile, too casual,
too lazy and too flabby to lead the Council or even his Executive
Committee, while his committee members found him to bedilatory
and somnolent. When Sir Baron's incompetence began to threaten
certain constitutional benefits hitherto enjoyed by the Ceylonese
Ministers and the people of the country, the younger guard of the
State Council demanded a change in the leadership.
The first such
incident took place in 1939. When war broke out in Europe, the Governor
considered it necessary to form a Local Defence Committee and he
invited Sir Baron, Minister of Home Affairs, to join this body.
Sir Baron, without consulting his colleagues, subscribed to an article
in the Internal Security Scheme, which contained certain elements
that were criticized as detrimental to the Ceylonese by a committee
that was formulated in 1928.
as a member of this committee, together with a few other European
members, had advised the alteration of these harmful elements, particularly
the superfluous powers granted to the Police and to a Special Force,
whose services would be mobilised in case of an emergency.
Those who were
victims of the riots of 1915 were critical of these arbitrary powers
that were delegated to the Police and the European planters. Sir
Baron by subscribing to this scheme permitted local emergencies
to be dealt with, by European planters either as Unofficial Police
Magistrates or as Special Police Officers. Mr. Senanayake who was
astounded by Sir Baron's course of action, openly criticised him
and demanded the revelation of the scheme. When the Bill was tabled
in the State Council, Mr. Senanayake vehemently opposed the scheme
episode that brought Sir Baron's leadership capabilities into question
was the 'Mooloya incident' of January 10, 1940. This incident involved
the shooting and killing of a plantation labourer by a team of Police
personnel who were sent to suppress labour unrest in the Mooloya
Estate. When the shooting occurred, the Communists of Ceylon - the
Sama Samajists - attempted to seize the stage for propaganda and
political advantage. However, under the direction of D.S. Senanayake,
the Ministers skilfully contained the incident and appointed a commission
to inquire into the incidents.
had directed P.N. Banks, the Inspector-General of Police, to instruct
his Police personnel, who were conducting the prosecutions, not
to oppose applications for postponement of court proceedings until
the Mooloya Commission had completed their investigations.
refused to carry out Sir Baron's instructions on the grounds that
his direction had neither been authorised by his Executive Committee
of Home Affairs, nor received ratification of the Governor. Banks
used Article 45 of the State Council order-in-council of 1931, to
make his case.
required that a Minister receive prior approval of his Executive
Committee before issuing instructions to a Head of a Department.
It was rarely adhered to by the Ministers, for they often issued
instructions without procuring prior approval of their respective
Executive Committees. This article therefore was declared moribund.
In any event,
on February 13, 1940, Sir Baron wrote to the Governor accusing Banks
of insubordination and indiscipline and requested the
Governor to take disciplinary action against the IGP. The Governor
refused to do so and his decision precipitated the resignation of
the Ministers from their portfolios on February 27, 1940.
was the first to resign, doing so without consulting any of his
colleagues. When the Ministers met the Governor on February 26 to
discuss the Jayatilaka-Banks debacle, among other reasons, Caldecott
maintained that Sir Baron had failed to adhere to Article 45. Conversely,
the Ministers argued that Article 45 had never been strictly followed
through and that it had become more or less a convention. They further
argued that the Ministers frequently gave orders to heads of departments
without either securing authorisation of their respective Executive
Committees or obtaining the ratification of the Governor.
spirited discussion an angry Caldecott accused D.S. Senanayake of
being a liar and banged the table in a fury.
D.S. Senanayake, who did not appreciate the accusations and the
attitude adopted by the Governor, tendered his resignation on the
eve of February 26. When D.S. Senanayake's action was made public,
the rest of the Board of Ministers followed suit.
resignations put pressure on the application of the Governor's reserve
powers that were vested on him under the Ceylon Constitution of
1931. According to one such prerogative, the Governor had the authority
to take over any governmental department if he considered there
was a state of emergency. However, in this instance, he did not
exercise this power. After the Ministers' resignations, although
he defended the use of Article 45, Caldecott did not pursue the
implementation of the powers vested in him. One of the reasons for
this course of action was his desire to avoid further disorder.
Britain, during this time, had plenty of problems with India and
Burma and wished at all costs to avoid discord with the Ceylonese
Ministers. If Caldecott had failed to get this chaotic situation
under control, Whitehall would have pulled him out and sent in a
replacement. This was Britain's general solution towards disorder
in a colony and Caldecott needed to avoid such an ignominy.
instead of using his gubernatorial powers over the Ministers, he
offered them an amicable settlement, which was to appoint a commission
to look into the properties of Article 45.
the status quo of Article 45 was maintained. After this compromise,
the Ministers were re-elected to their respective Executive Committees
on March 6.
and their aftermath exemplified D.S. Senanayake's leadership qualities
and the influence he held over his colleagues. His colleagues, who
were familiar with his political approach, had supported him without
demur. When the remainder of the Board followed his lead in resigning,
it sent a strong message to the State Council and the country in
regard to Sir Baron's position as the Leader. As a result, the younger
members of the State Council perceived Sir Baron as an aging statesman
who was permitting Officers of State to encroach upon his
powers as a Minister, and that his control over heads of departments
was weak and his policy with regard to that department [Home Affairs]
State Council was back in session, it remained leaderless, for there
was disagreement within the Board of Ministers and the State Council
with regard to Sir Baron resuming leadership. Four out of seven
Ministers - S.W.R.D. Bandaranaike, G.C.S. Corea, J.L. Kotelawala,
and C.W.W. Kannangara - requested Sir Baron to step down as a Minister,
or to give an assurance that he would resign within a year if he
were re-elected to the leadership. Furthermore, a proposal was drawn
up to be tabled in the State Council against Sir Baron asserting
his incapability of leading the State Council. They claimed that
Sir Baron had lost the confidence of the State Council and
is unfit to be the Chairman of the Committee for Home Affairs or
the Vice-Chairman of a Board of Ministers.
strained D.S. Senanayake's relations with Sir Baron. Governor Caldecott
perceived D.S. Senanayake's intervention in the Jayatilaka-Banks
affair as an attempt to wrest the leadership from Sir Baron. He
believed that nothing would give Senanayake greater satisfaction
than to help push Jayatilaka off the ministerial raft with one hand
and to throw dung at Banks with the other.
was not the case.
During the Jayatilaka-Banks incident, Sir Baron was holding the
Presidency of the Ceylon National Congress. Members of the CNC anticipated
Jayatilaka's resignation, for he had quite openly stated that he
would not continue as Home Minister in the event of Mr. Banks
resuming duties. After the incident, when Sir Baron did not
resign, a motion was passed in the CNC calling for his resignation.
D.S. Senanayake, however, opposed this motion and stated that demanding
Sir Baron's resignation at that moment in time would be disadvantageous
to the future of the island.
S. Senanayake was aware that Sir Baron's influence was declining
and that he was no longer capable of leadership, he also believed
that a change in the leadership would be untimely. Therefore, he
took heed of Caldecott's advice that forceful measures demanding
Sir Baron's resignation would make retirement with honour impossible
for him. As a result, D.S. Senanayake campaigned for Sir Baron's
re-election, which occurred on April 2, 1940, enabling him to resume
responsibilities as the leader. These actions proved to Caldecott
that D.S. Senanayake still felt a debt of loyalty to his old
The final indication
of D.B. Jayatilaka's incapacity as leader was revealed in December
1941. A 'Police Internal Security Scheme for Planters' was revealed
and, to D.S. Senanayake's dismay, Sir Baron as the Minister of Home
Affairs was unaware of its existence. The scheme involved certain
measures taken by the IGP to increase the number of persons
willing to be enrolled as Special Police Officers in case of necessity.
To Senanayake's chagrin, the recruited number exceeded 18,000 persons
and the formulation of such a scheme had never been placed before
the State Council nor had it the ratification of the Home Affairs
Committee. He discovered that the necessary personnel had already
been recruited, registered and instructed as to how to act during
an emergency. As aforementioned, D.S. Senanayake was against local
emergencies being dealt by a section of people who were not in touch
with the inhabitants of the country. He accused Banks and the Europeans
planters of acting conspiratorially. Together they had formed a
force to act in case of an emergency to protect the women and children
of the European planters. An exasperated Senanayake asked: Was
it the concern of the Police to look after this section of the people
[Europeans], when there are about 6,000,000 people in Ceylon?
that the internal security they are going to provide for us?
could be taken against this scheme, war raged in Asia. Ceylon's
state affairs seemed insignificant in comparison to the fall of
Singapore and the Japanese penetration into Burma. At a time when
strategically Ceylon became a vital point of concentration for British
forces and for defence communications in the Indian Ocean, unity
among the Ceylonese Ministers was deemed a necessity. Therefore,
under D.S. Senanayake's guidance the Ministers put aside their differences
and concentrated on the war overwhelming the world. Furthermore,
in order to make the running of Ceylon's administration more smooth
and effective, Caldecott entertained the thought of forming a de
facto Cabinet. The Executive Committees were persuaded to delegate
their powers to the Ministers in all matters of defence, hence internal
security of the island became the responsibility of this 'de facto
of these events created a renewed sense of respect and admiration
in Governor Caldecott's mind for D.S. Senanayake. He was taken aback
with D.S. Senanayake's performance: his ability to take control
of a crisis, to gain support from the State Council and to gain
political and constitutional advances out of it. He thus had to
revise his estimation of the man. Previously, to him, Senanayake
was a 'Sinhalese village bully, whose characteristics (like the
spots on a black panther) occasionally show through the ministerial
veneer of Jungle John There were times when Caldecott
demanded D.S. Senanayake's resignation, and others when he criticized
his loud and harsh despatches, claiming that it was the language
of the mud-buffalo to snort and bellow. However, after the
dust had settled, Governor Caldecott was really glad to welcome
D.S. Senanayake back. The Ministers' decision to follow D.S.
Senanayake had sent a clear message to the Governor: his ability
to muster forces even though he was not the official leader of the
State Council. Therefore, despite his lack of education, hedgelawry,
and tiresome blustering, Caldecott accepted that D.S. Senanayake
was big and vital and a man.
crises, Sir Baron continued to be the leader, but in name only.
D.S. Senanayake emerged as the bona fide leader representing Ceylon
in national and international negotiations during this phase of
blatant war emergency. Finally, in December 1942, the duumvirate
in the national leadership of D.S. Senanayake and Sir Baron came
to an end. Sir Baron retired from Ceylonese politics and was appointed
Ceylon's representative to India. This gave Sir Baron the ability
to retire with honour and D.S. Senanayake the opportunity to resume
leadership with honour, for he was unanimously appointed the Leader
of the State Council. When he assumed leadership, D.S. Senanayake
marked a turning point in Ceylon's history. He supported the election
of a Tamil, Arunachalam Mahadeva, to Sir Baron's ministry. Mahadeva's
appointment brought an end to the Sinhalese monopoly of the Board