A political operation has commenced to create a clash between castes in Matara. The clash between the castes has commenced following the unveiling of a statue of the Most Venerable Madihe Pannasiha Mahanayake Thero opposite the Matara bodhiya.
The President on the 8th unveiled a statue of the Mahanayake thero near his home town in Madihe in the Matara town. However, Matara Mayor Susindra Handunge has told the Council on the 14th that he was under political pressure to remove the statue to a different location.
The Mayor has been told that a statue of renowned historian Ven. Kamburupitiye Vanarathana Thero and other such prominent monks have not been put up in the Matara town. The Mayor is therefore under pressure to remove Ven. Pannasiha Thero’s statute to another location or to put up another statue of Ven. Vanarathana Thero also in the Matara town.
It is learnt that the Matara Mayor is under pressure to carry out this action by UPFA Matara District Leader, Minister Dullas Alahapperuma’s coordinating secretary, Sarath Alwis. He has officially informed the Mayor to put up a statue of Ven. Vanarathana Thero.
It is a caste issue that has caused this clash over a statue. Caste still plays a huge role in politics and other social activities in areas like Matara and Kandy. The fact could be understood if a close analysis is done on the preferential voting patterns during elections in these areas. However, Ven. Pannasiha Thero represents the Durawa caste, which is predominant in the Matara town area. Minster Alahapperuma who is asking for a statue for Ven. Vanarathana Thero is a head in the Govigama clan. The Thero was also a representative of the Govigama clan. It is the caste that has caused a clash between Alahapperuma and former Foreign Minister Mangala Samaraweera in Matara. Samaraweera is a member of the Durawa caste.
Therefore, the unveiling of Ven. Pannasiha Thero’s statue has created a caste battle in Matara. Alahapperuma has asked his coordinating secretary, Alwis to take immediate steps to print a commemorative stamp for Ven. Vanarathana Thero.
Meanwhile, another member of the Durawa caste, Public Relations Minister Mervyn Silva laid the foundation stone to build a museum in Dickwella, Matara for one of the leaders of the caste, Munidasa Kumaratunga.
The Durawa political leaders regardless of party affiliations have tried to get Vimukthi Kumaratunge to enter politics, since the late Vijaya Kumaratunge was also from the Durawa clan. Another well known person from the clan is UNP parliamentarian Ranjan Ramanayake.