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Old 13-12-16, 06:37 PM
sriyanj sriyanj is offline
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Default Tribute to Dudley Senanayake : The politician who could not lie

Tribute to Dudley Senanayake : The politician who could not lie


Tuesday, December 13, 2016 - 01:00

K Godage



The Tamil political parties wanted all Tamils of Indian origin to be granted citizenship, which was rejected by Dudley. On the language issue, his first effort to arrive at a fair solution/settlement (he came to an agreement with S J V Chelvanayagam) was sabotaged by so called Sinhala nationalists who were, in fact, racists. Dudley thereafter called for a bipartisan approach and said that the issue should be taken out of politics and settled through a roundtable conference of all those with interests. Incidentally, Dudley stated that SWRD Bandaranaike also had made the same appeal and stated that it must be resolved soonest as it was ‘Dynamite’! Sadly he too failed



The unveiling of the new statue of former Prime Minister Dudley Senanayake, a truly great politician, by President Maithripala Sirisena, brings to mind memories. I had the privilege of knowing the gentleman for many years. In the 1960s I could meet him in his Food Drive which was, without doubt, the greatest contribution made by any of our leaders to improve domestic agriculture in our country.

Agriculture was his first love.

It was he that initiated the policy of giving land to the poorest of the poor. He also provided them with the necessary facilities to engage in the production of paddy / rice and other food crops. It was he who had first advocated a guaranteed price for paddy and the establishment of the necessary organisations (agricultural produce and sales societies) by the Marketing Department and the Trade and Commerce Ministry.

This Paddy marketing system was subsequently improved upon by Ministers Phillip Gunawardena and T B Illangaratne.

Gal Oya scheme

Perhaps the greatest achievement of Dudley Senanayake, as the first Agriculture Minister of the post-independence government, was the inauguration of the Gal Oya scheme in 1948.

The volume of water in the Gal Oya reservoir exceeded the volume of water in all the reservoirs (tanks) in the country. Dudley was responsible for both the Gal Oya and the Walawe irrigation schemes which have contributed immensely to the development of our country.

Over 30,000 families had been settled under these two schemes alone. Dudley was also responsible for the Padaviya and Kanadarawa projects and a number of other irrigation schemes. The Food Drive was not confined to paddy production but was extended to other crops as well. The farming community was benefitted immensely from Dudley’s initiatives. He was indeed an icon and we have yet to produce another leader of his type.

No leader of our country did as much for the peasantry of our country as Dudley Senanayake did. The results of the election of 1970 were a shocker. I shall never forget the day that the results of the 1970 elections were announced, indicating that Prime Minister Dudley had lost the election. I could not believe it. I went to Woodlands to meet the outgoing premier. His personal secretary told me that the premier was in the hall. I walked in and no one else was there. I sympathised with him and inquired as to how this could have happened. He said something like this: “The Marxists have helped the SLFP to fool the people and they have pulled it off. Their campaign was better than ours,” he was indeed depressed for he had done so much in the previous five years and did not expect to lose in this manner.

His life story and the speeches he made in Parliament were indeed inspiring and worthy of emulation. Bradman Weerakoon who served as official Secretary when Dudley was Prime Minister, says this of him in the preface to the book titled as Dudley Senanayake, a Biography: “His kind of politics transcended party, ethnicity, religion, language, class or caste, up-country, low country differences, or any of the many identities which divide our people….” To cite but one instance from his political life; the colonial government had at one time imprisoned Dr NM Perera and Phillip Gunawardena and he took it upon himself to criticise the Governor for his act in the National Assembly though NM and Phillip were from the Opposition. He always stood for justice, democracy, fair play and the rule of law. He was respected and loved by the people this could be gauged from the fact that almost a million people from the four corners of Sri Lanka, from all walks of life, came to Colombo to wish him goodbye, at a time when he was not holding any office. He was indeed a role model politician and politicians of today.

Tamil leaders

I wish now to address another important issue, namely the Tamil issue and how he viewed it. The Tamil leaders at the time wanted a federal form of government but he was for a unitary state. Dudley was a friend of all communities and was committed to the concept of ‘One Country One Nation’. The Tamil parties also wanted the government to stop the settlement of people from outside the province in the new areas that had been opened up under the Gal Oya and other new irrigation schemes. This too was rejected by Dudley, who pointed out that there were over 20 ancient Buddhist shrines in the eastern province where Sinhalese people had lived for centuries until Malaria drove them out.

The Tamil political parties also wanted all Tamils of Indian origin to be granted citizenship, which was rejected by Dudley. On the language issue, his first effort to arrive at a fair solution/settlement (he came to an agreement with S J V Chelvanayagam) was sabotaged by so called Sinhala nationalists who were, in fact, racists. Dudley thereafter called for a bipartisan approach and said that the issue should be taken out of politics and settled through a roundtable conference of all those with interests. Incidentally, Dudley stated that SWRD Bandaranaike also had made the same appeal and stated that it must be resolved soonest as it was ‘Dynamite’! Sadly he too failed.

Dudley always considered the Tamil people as being also ‘our people’ and was prepared to treat them as equal citizens and to have the rights of other citizens in the country and to live in dignity, but the federalists queered the pitch by making unacceptable demands for political reasons.

To conclude, may Dudley Senanayake be remembered in the history of our country as one of the greatest leaders we were privileged to have. I wish to conclude this appreciation with a quote from Bradman’s preface. He reproduces a poem by Gilbert Holland:

“A time like this demands

Strong minds, great hearts,

true faith and ready hands

Men whom the lust of office

does not kill Men whom

the spoils of office cannot buy

Men who possess opinions

and a will

Men who love honour, men who cannot lie.”
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Old 21-01-17, 09:11 PM
sriyanj sriyanj is offline
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Default Tribute to Dudley Senanayake

Tribute to Dudley Senanayake
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Last edited by sriyanj; 21-01-17 at 09:14 PM.
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