Comrade A Vaidialingam: A First generation of communist of Ceylon.
In the pre-independent Ceylon, Dr. Wikramasinghe's Suriya-Mal Movement played a significant role in helping the poor during natural disasters, thus consolidating their place among those who harboured anti-imperialist sentiment.
The first generation leftist in Sri Lanka took root in the social movement of “Suriya Mal” which later turned out to be the first Lanka left party, Lanka Sama Samaja Party. The LSSP proved to set the leftists in motion in pre-independent Sri Lanka.
Despite resenting the imperialism within Ceylon, the origins of the communist party in Sri Lanka could be traced back to Britain, especially that of the “Suriya Mal” movement, and this Independence movement derived its impetus from certain Sri Lankan students, ideologically united in Britain during their higher studies in Cambridge.
In the 1930’s most Sri Lankan students in Cambridge were attracted to Marxism, a way of thinking which was then pragmatically ushered a political phenomenon for those who were yearning for political changes in their own countries. Thus students like Peter Kenummen, S.A Wickrmasingham, A Vaidialingam, and Pon Kandiah came under the influence of Communism and Marxism, and their ideological affiliation led them to join the communist party of Great Britain.
Upon their return to Ceylon, it was only a matter of time before their reunion led to the formation of the Communist Party of Ceylon.
A.Vaidilingam, was very much involved in the ideological side of the Communist Party whilst his colleague Karthigasu, was actively working among people at the grass root levels. It would seem that teaching Marxism was esoteric to many of those who had their degrees in Cambridge, but this was a daunting challenge for A. Vaidilingam in the North of Ceylon. He was a teacher of mathematics yet displayed his unswerving commitment to his political conviction, which was extremely hostile to Tamil seperatism. A few leftists in the North created a section of noticeable left enthusiasts.
Unlike Comrade Shanmugathasan , Comrade A Vaidialingams was a pragmatic politician who enthusiastically believed in the democratic exercise of franchise like his colleagues, Peter Kennaman. He contested in the General Parliamentary elections as a Communist Party candidate, standing against staunch Tamil Nationalist political giants like Amirthalingham, with an undefeatable mind. In spite of his events, only Pon Kandiah became an MP from the North. The left movements in the Tamil areas faced a dire threat from the Tamil Nationalists’ Parties, who played race cards to uplift their parties and consolidate their position with increasing force. The Sinhala Nationalist elements phasing in and out of the ruling parties contributed to the development of racial tensions and the concept of two distinct nationalistic notions within one nation.
In this situation, the leftist A.Vaidilingam was faced with enormous challenges in the North, where the fabric of society placed great significance and value on race, religion, and caste.
It is indeed a great privilege for me to be part of those who celebrate comrade Vaidialingam who is one of the great leftist leaders of Sri Lanka, and his legacy will be inscribed in the history of Sri Lanka. The re-emerging global awareness of Marxism and Leninism will usher in a new era in the parts of the country where he is hidden by the parochial, ethno-political ideologies.
N.B Please note that in the published version of this article in the Birth Centenary Celebrations of Comrade A. Vaidialingam, an error appears in paragraph 6, which should be corrected to read as "hostile to Tamil seperatism".
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