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Anecdotes about the unforgettable E.L Senanayake

10 January 2020 05:26 am - 0     - {{hitsCtrl.values.hits}}



A statue in the memory of former Speaker E.L.Senanayake was unveiled at the spacious lawn of “ E.L.Senayake Children’s Library “ in  Kotugodelle Veediya, Kandy. 
Senanayake would have been one hundred years old had he been living now. He had his primary education at Trinity College, Kandy and read for an Economics Degree at the University of Colombo. 
His greatest contribution during his lifetime was to host the one-week-long Conference of the International Press Institute in the historic city of Kandy. Editors and publishers from all over the world arrived at the Queen’s Hotel in Kandy for the confab. They also enjoyed the lavish entertainment and glitter the town had to offer. This history is well remembered even today. After the confab he had to face the consequences of overspending. But his reply was that he had put Sri Lanka under the spotlight.   
He offered to host the conference at the request of ‘Golden Pen’ award winner, the doyen of journalists, in that era-Esmond Wickramasinghe. Here was a man who would spend thousands to get a news story, but yet would not publish it if he thought he didn’t have to. His close associate was Reggie Michael of he Ceylon Daily Mirror. 

The late E.L.Senanayake went under the pupilage of George known as ‘Ape George’ when he first contested the Kandy Municipal Council at the age of twenty-three. Then he came under the eyes of J.R.Jayewardene and Dudley Senanayake, when the rise began. He was Deputy Mayor of Kandy and Mayor of Kandy for 15 years, Minister of Agriculture, Speaker, the Governor of the North Central Province and then Governor of Sabaragamuwa. 
He had brushes against journalists, but no malice was intended. He held them in high respect and his rise could be attributed to the Provincial journalists he met during his early days in politics. In fact, he lost his wealth due to his political career. He sold his lands to contest elections. One day the writer was waiting at the bus stop on Peradeniya Road. The ministerial vehicle of E.L.Senanayake whisked past with of course only one policeman in front. He saw the writer and reversed his vehicle to ‘ pick ‘ me up. That is the way he treated journalists. 
He did much for Kandy, some of his work has been continued by the Councils that were established after him. He was a strict disciplinarian. There was not a single officer out of his or her seat at the Municipality, when he was in office. He visited office daily. Those days councilors did an ‘honorary’ job.  


"His greatest contribution during his lifetime was to host the one-week-long Conference of the International Press Institute in the historic city of Kandy. Editors and publishers from all over the world arrived at the Queen’s Hotel in Kandy for the confab"

The land for the children’s library was handed over to the Council. In this land stood the a Police Station where Saradiel was imprisoned until the case was heard at the Supreme Court. 
A resolution in the Council in September 1984 made the Children’s Library be renamed the ‘E.L.Senanayake Childen’s Library’.  
It was E.L Senanayake who raised the money to build the Library. D.S.Senanayake Library, another project of ‘E.L’ was constructed out of Public Funds. The Kandy Central Market was also his creation was funded by the late S.W.R.D.Bandaranaike. The Dangolla Housing scheme was taken over by the Government after the worst floods of 1947. He spend this period in office as mayor. He saw to the needs of refugee families billeted at the Police Grounds. 
He had the privilege of receiving a number of Heads of State; these invitees including Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth, Emperor Akihito of Japan, Margret Thatcher of Britain, Jawaharlal Nehru and Chou en Lai. 

The then Government bestowed him with the Title ‘Deshamanya’. His brother Dr.James Senanayake was a Senator. His sons Datusena and Rajasinghe or ‘Raja ‘ were members of the Kandy Municipal Council. Kesara Senanayake, who is the present Mayor, served in the Diplomatic service and was later elected to the Central Province Provincial Council before becoming a member of the Kandy Municipal Council. 
Speaker and Governor E.L.Senanayake is the third son of Mudliyar James Senanayake and was born at ‘ Milton House “ on Kotugodelle Veediya , Kandy in August 1920. He passed away on  January 29, 2000.  

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