The journey so far

Growing up as a young child in Werella, Milinda did not enjoy the concept of politics. Elections were noisy, chaotic, and divided the village into blue or green. His calm and friendly neighbors turned into hooligans,houses would get damaged, buses would get burned, families would not talk to each other for years, and even marriage proposals would get called off based on the party they supported. This was the politics of Milinda’s childhood, which he wanted no part of. As he grew older, he began to understand that every single thing that affected his life, be it the war, his education, the traffic, university bursaries, even the price of lunch was decided by a political decision taken by someone sitting in a place of power. This reality haunted him, until one day he walked into the Student Council at the University of Wayamba and joined the Student Union.

Later, Milinda went overseas for higher studies, worked and travelled in various countries around the world. When he returned to Sri Lanka, things had changed. But one thing had remained unchanged, and that was the public opinion about the political culture. He found that educated people still hated politics. Young people still ridiculed politics. Most people voted for someone simply because there was no other choice. This led him to wonder, if politics and politicians played such a critical role in our lives, making the decisions that matter to him and his children, who would be the kind of politician who could represent him and others like him?

It was at this point that Milinda realized that he needed to take ownership in this system. All he had to do was to sacrifice his comfortable, corporate job, get an earful from his family, and look like an idiot in front of his friends. But it had to start somewhere, and he had always known it was up to him to redefine his circumstances.

He started campaigning for the Mayor of Colombo because he wanted to start with building the Colombo which he dreamed of living in when he was just an eight-year-old boy from Werella. He campaigned on policies, he didn’t spend money, did not run on alcohol or drugs, and was adamant that his opponent, the first female Mayor of Colombo, be protected from gender-based discrimination.

Milinda is the first concede their loss in Colombo, but strongly believes that what they won was the start of a new political culture – where young politicians could lead clean, professional, action-driven campaigns that young supporters could proudly stand behind, and a new era of result-driven politics which inspires young people around the country to engage in politics to uplift their communities and bring about change for themselves, their loved ones, and the entire country.