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Old 01-05-13, 09:53 AM
sriyanjay sriyanjay is offline
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Default Dudley Senanayake : The gentleman politician par excellence

Dudley Senanayake :
The gentleman politician par excellence

By Premasara Epasinghe

Some leaders achieve leadership through perseverance. Some are born leaders. Most, successful leaders are highly action oriented. The best example in recent history is dynamic President Mahinda Rajapaksa, who brought Sri Lanka under one banner, ending terrorism.

Before him there were many leaders such as Philip Gunawardena, D.A. Rajapaksa, Dr. N.M. Perera, Dr. Colvin R. de Silva, Dr. S.A. Wickramasinghe, S.W.R.D. Bandaranaike, Dr. W. Dahanayake, Bernard Soysa, Pieter Keunamen and Dudley Shelton Senanayake.

Dudley Senanayake chats with S.W.R.D. Bandaranaike and Lord Soulbury

They entered the field of politics for the purpose of serving the people. They were men of integrity. For example, when Dudley Senanayake and Dr. N.M. Perera died they had a bank balance of less then Rs. 1,000. Dudley Senanayake, who became the Prime Minister on four occasions was a fine human being. He was the son of D.S. Senanayake, first Prime Minister of Sri Lanka, Dudley Senanayake died on April 13, 1973.
Leadership qualities

According to Prof. Kenneth Clark, leadership is an activity or set of activities, observable to others that occurs in a group, organisation or institution involving a leader and followers, who willingly subscribe to a common purpose and work together to achieve them. Leadership is a dynamic process. To be a leader, one must have a following. John Harvey Jones, expressed his sentiments about leadership qualities thus:

“The prime characteristic detected in top leaders are toughness, demanding time, concentration, sheer grinding brain power”.

Dudley was born on June 19, 1911, as the eldest son of D.S. Senanayake and Mollie Dunuwila of Botale Walauwa, Mirigama. His younger brother was the late Robert Senanayake. All of them studied S. Thomas’ College Mt. Lavinia. They played cricket for the college and wore the prestigious “Blue-Black-Blue Blazer” and “Cap'.

D.S. Senanayake played in the 23rd Royal-Thomian 1902, as batsman number 10, scored a “golden Duck”. He was the Thomian Wicket-keeper. Dudley played for STC from 1927-1929 and in the 48th Royal-Thomian in the first innings Dudley scored 48 not out. His brother Robert Captained STC in the 51st Royal-Thomian, in 1930.

Dudley Senanayake, after a brilliant all-round performance, proceeded to Corpus Christie College, Cambridge University. In 1936, young Dudley returned to Ceylon. Following in the footsteps of his illustrious father D.S. Senanayake, he too took up to politics. Dudley was elected to State Council to represent Dedigama. He became the First Minister of Agriculture, in Ceylon's first Cabinet. Dudley was the Prime Minister four times, a unique record indeed.
Party hierarchy

Unfortunately in the last stages of life, died broken-hearted due to the opposition of his party hierarchy who even filed action against him to achieve their personal ambitions. The very people who he helped them to climb the ladder, challenged and opposed him. Dudley, by nature was a kind hearted mild man. The majority loved him.

When D.S. Senanayake became the first Prime Minister, the Governor-General Sir Henry Moore, invited him to form the first cabinet on September, 24, 1947. In the 14-member Cabinet, Dudley Senanayake was appointed Minister of Agriculture.

After the demise of Prime Minister D.S. Senanayake, Dudley was appointed Prime Minister. Later, he went to the polls, secured a majority in Parliament and was elected Prime Minister. During this period, he was dogged with illness. In 1953, when the Marxists organised a Hartal, against the Government relating to rice subsidy, Dudley resigned. He temporarily withdrew from public life for sometime. Again, in 1960, he became the Prime Minister. He was in office from 1965 to 1970.

Dudley Senanayake was an eloquent speaker and debater. He was a radical. He had a modern outlook. He was a great democrat. He was well-read witty, an essentially a friendly person with a fine sense of humour. He never forgot his past. In 1928, in the Royal-Thomian, Dudley scored 25 and he was bowled by royal skipper W. Kandiah. He was popularly known as “Kandus”. In 1967, N. Kandiah former Royal captain was at a bus stand near Vogue Jewellers, Bambalapitiya, when a limousine stopped near the bus-halt. Hello, Kandus, what the hell are you doing here? Get in Kandus”. The Royal skipper N. Kandiah was shocked to see his victim in 1928, now Prime Minister of Ceylon, Dudley Senanayake in the car.
Triumph Herald

The Prime Minister took Kandus to Temple Trees, had lunch with him and chatted for many hours. Prime Minister Dudley Senanayake drove him in his “Triumph Herald” to the Fort Railway station. N. Kandiah was travelling to Jaffna. Dudley bade adieu, to Kandus.

The sports loving Prime Minister Dudley Senanayake, was a fine golf-player. He played golf regularly at RCGC, Colombo 7.

One day, he was little late and he drove his Triumph Herald fast. He was “Copped”. When the Police officer stopped his vehicle, Prime Minister, Dudley Senanayake was in a sports attire. The policeman started shivering in his boots.

“Sir, I am sorry” he said. The unassuming Prime Minister Dudley Senanayake got of his vehicle, and told the young policeman “In future, I will not drive fast. I am happy that you did your duty well, you are a good officer. I appreciate and admire you. Keep it up! This shows the gentlemanly quality and the calibre of Dudley Senanayake.

Once STC warden Buck said, “You belong to one of the best schools in the world, a school with a tradition. Be proud to be a Thomian. Make the college proud of numbering you among its sons. You have learned the best lessons in the world at S. Thomas'. I trust not only English, Classics, and Mathematics, true manliness and truth, courage, purity and all these things that make a man a gentleman. Try never to forget them. Be men and gentlemen always”.

True to Warden Buck's wording of wisdom, this great Thomian, four times Prime Minister Statesman and Patriot, Dudley Shelton Senanayake was a gentleman par-excellence.
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