|Left Front candidate for
President of Sri Lanka
26 January 2010
|Opponent(s)||Mahinda Rajapaksa (UPFA),
Sarath Fonseka and others
March 8, 1943 |
Lunugala, Badulla District,
Uva Province, British Ceylon
|Political party||Left Front|
|Nava Sama Samaja Party|
|Relations||Mudiyanse Karunarathne (father)
Vimala Kothalawale (mother)
|Alma mater||Ananda College
University of Ceylon
University of Cambridge
Karunarathne was born on 8 March 1943 in Lunugala in present day south-east Sri Lanka. Both his parents were teachers. He received his primary education at Ananda Shasthralaya, Mathugama before going onto Ananda College, Colombo for his secondary education. Thereafter he went to the University of Ceylon from where he graduated with a first class degree in electrical engineering. He received a Commonwealth scholarship to study at the University of Cambridge from which he received a doctorate in 1970. He returned to Ceylon and started an academic career.
Karunaratne became politically active very early in his life, joining the Lanka Sama Samaja Party (LSSP) in 1962 whilst an undergraduate at the University of Ceylon. He was elected to the LSSP's Central Committee in 1972 but fell out with the party's leadership over their support for the Sri Lanka Freedom Party and its 1972 Republican Constitution. He was expelled from the LSSP.
In 1978 he was arrested in Kandy for attempting to put up protest slogans against the President prior to his visit to Kandy in 1978. He was released without charge after a few months of detention, and the University of Peradeniya which suspended him from service soon after his arrest reinstated him after a rather delayed inquiry. He chose to resign from the University after he collected his back pay.
The Sri Lankan government proscribed the NSSP, Janatha Vimukthi Peramuna (JVP) and Communist Party of Sri Lanka (CP) after the Black July anti-Tamil riots of 1983. Karunaratne, Vasudeva Nanayakkara, Rohana Wijeweera and other left-wing politicians went into hiding until 1985 when the proscription was lifted.
In 1987 the NSSP joined with the LSSP, CP and Sri Lanka Mahajana Pakshaya (SLMP) to form the United Socialist Alliance. Karunaratne was injured on 2 December 1988 when a JVP gang attacked an election rally at Kadawatte near Colombo in support of the SLMP's presidential canididate Oswin Abeygunasekara. The JVP attacked numerous left-wing politicians and their supporters during its second insurrection.
In 1998 the NSSP joined with the National Democratic Movement, New Democratic Party and United Socialist Party (a breakaway faction of the NSSP) to form the New Left Front (NLF). The USP has since left the NLF but the Democratic Left Front (another breakaway faction of the NSSP formed by Vasudeva Nanayakkara) has joined the NLF. Since 2004 the NLF has restyled itself as Left Front.
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- "Vikramabahu Karunaratne invokes support among Tamils". TamilNet. 27 November 2009. Retrieved 6 December 2009.
- Kannangara, Ananda (6 April 2002). "Dr. Wickramabahu Karunaratne gives evidence at Truth Commission". Daily News, Sri Lanka. Retrieved 6 December 2009.
- COLLURE, Raja (3 July 2008). "65 years of fighting for the people". Daily News, Sri Lanka. Retrieved 6 December 2009.
- "JVP turns its guns and bombs against SLMP". Tamil Times VIII (1): 19. December 1988. ISSN 0266-4488.
- "Sri Lanka". Leftist Parties of the World. 22 June 2004. Retrieved 6 December 2009.
- "Left Front Leader Will Contest Presidential Election". The Sunday Leader, Sri Lanka. 26 November 2009. Retrieved 6 December 2009.
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