Asitha Perera, Belihuloya, Bhopal, Bradman Weerakoon, CALD, Centre for Policy Alternatives, Chanaka Amaratunga, Council for Liberal Democracy, FNS, Gwalior, Harim Pieris, Iris Madeira, Kamal Nissanka, Kerala, Khajuraho, Lakmahal, Liberal Party, Muslim Congress, Paikiasothy Saravanamuttu, Ranasinghe Premadasa, Ravi Pillai, Rex Baker, Rohan Edrisinha, Sabaragamuwa, Sanath Jayasuriya, Sanchi, Shalini Senanayaka, Suleiman Terrace, Trivandrum, World Cup
After Chanaka’s death I had to take charge of the Liberal Party, for there was no one else left of the intellectual giants Chanaka had gathered around him, or even his close friends, who had formed the core of the party. Asitha, who had been his principal ally when the Council for Liberal Democracy first went into action during the 1982 referendum, had let him down after the 1994 election, and joined the Muslim Congress to ensure he kept the Parliamentary seat of which he had deprived Chanaka. Before that, Rohan Edrisinha, Chanaka’s other great friend from schooldays, who had taken longer to part conclusively from the UNP when JR was in charge, had left the party along with Paikiasothy Saravanamuttu when we decided to support Premadasa in the 1993 Provincial Council elections.
In 1996 I tried to persuade both of them to come back, but by then they were well entrenched in the Centre for Policy Alternatives, which they had set up ironically enough with Bradman Weerakoon, who had been Premadasa’s right hand man. They thought now that they could achieve more through that, and Sara indeed did so in the years that passed, showing himself in the end inclined to move towards a UNP perspective. I was left then with relative newcomers, Harim Pieris who had been Deputy to Chanaka’s Secretary General, and Kamal Nissanka who had joined us as a paid researcher. They had proved reliable enough, but neither of them had the intellectual stature of Chanaka or Sara or Rohan. Shalini Senanayake, who had been employed as a Secretary, also continued to help, though we could no longer afford to keep her on in a paid position. Her sympathies were more with the UNP, for family reasons, rather than Liberalism. Unfortunately Nirgunan, who would have provided intellectual strength, had by now settled down in Singapore, though he continued supportive from afar.
I found the party in debt, for the projects that had funded the administration had long dried up. Indeed it turned out that the most recent one, to produce a manual of Liberalism for South Asia, was nowhere near conclusion, though the money advanced for its production had all been used up. Mrs Delgoda of the Friedrich Naumann Stiftung, which had funded the volume, was desperate that it be finished and, with much cajoling and editing, I was able to oblige within a few months. Fortunately Chanaka’s articles had been in advanced draft form, and provided a thorough base for the volume, and Rohan and Sara eventually produced what they had agreed to do. Continue reading