- Gal-Oya multi-purpose project was the brainchild of Dudley Senanayake
- He was a man who had a powerful almost tactile attraction, over everyone around him
- His unique qualities made him stride the political arena like a colossus, till his demise
Today, on the late Dudley Senanayake’s birthday, with the party he belonged to and loved, as part of the Unity government, as he never did long or high jumps to any other party, as has become the norm of our times, one is reminded of him.
When he resigned as Prime Minister, he sat back , but never deserted the party. He returned as Leader, at the request of UNP seniors who felt that only he ,could lead the party back into victory. From wherever he is, he must look down, with happiness, that the present Leader of the party has done what he can to restore freedom, democracy and an independent judiciary once more, all of which Dudley fought hard for, throughout his political life.
Anyone who knew or worked with the late Dudley, was aware that he was a true liberal democrat, who would have never trod any other path, but the straightest one through the democratic way, through free and fair elections to gain power. He never made false promises to gain power, and was known to always speak the truth. He was a man above all other, in every sense of the term He always stood for an united country, where all our citizens are treated as equal citizen, irrespective of community, caste or faith. This is what the very name of the UNP stands for. Dudley, strove hard and long to adhere to gaining equal status for all citizens. He believed strongly, that being the majority community did not mean asserting one’s authority or dominion aggressively, over the minorities.
Dudley Senanayake was a devout Buddhist, but one who believed, that everyone should have the right to practise the religion of his/her choice in peace and freedom
The late Dudley was never the proverbial dull as dishwater politician, whose entire ambition was used up ensuring, that he never said anything even remotely controversial. He was a man who had a powerful almost tactile attraction, over everyone around him. His intense, brilliant heated arguments with his peers in Parliament, at that stage the crème ala crème of politicians were in our Parliament, all educated men of vision, whatever their political affiliations were. These arguments and political cross talk expanded his horizons and interests. But he never carried malice in his heart beyond the precincts of that most august assembly. Politicians of that era respected each others’ views even in disagreement. Diverse political affiliation did not mean political enmity, vulgar abuse and violent behaviour. They often walked across the floor and shook hands with each other after heated arguments in the House. This is in sharp contrast to the filth thrown across the floor, vile behaviour patterns and language which is the present norm of behaviour in Parliament today.
Perhaps the fact that he was a cricketer, instilled in him his sense of justice and fair play, which was a hallmark of his tenure in politics. His other hobbies of music, reading and photography were also tthose of a cultured and cultivated mind. Dudley Senanayake’s unique qualities made him stride the political arena like a colossus, till his demise. He was an excellent speaker quick and unsurpassed at wit and repartee, had a powerful voice, an infectious and uproarious laugh and the rare ability to laugh at himself. His appetite and love for food is also a legend. A shining beacon of his political life was his steadfast loyalty to his party through thick and thin. Even when he was pushed out, he never criticized the then Leadership of the party. He knew that loyalty to party and loyalty to the Leader have to go together for success. He would have been shocked and appalled at political crossovers, shifting loyalties and stabs in the back, which are the negative aspects of politics today, which only hinder the progress and unity of the party.
He would have strongly opposed The Presidential system, and the preferential vote which are the main reasons for infighting and disunity in all parties. He also believed that absolute power corrupts absolutely, of which we had a good dose during the previous regime.
Dudley Senanayake was a devout Buddhist, but one who believed, that everyone should have the right to practise the religion of his/her choice in peace and freedom. That is true tolerance as preached by Gauthama Buddha, which seems absent today. Dudley’s greatest contribution, to our country’s development, was in the field of agriculture, which always was his first love. During his food drive, he was a familiar sight in far off pockets of rural Sri Lanka, with his camera slung over his shoulder. His heart was with the rural peasantry of the country. Bradman Weerakoon, who was his secretary, commented once that the Senanayakes were from a rural base. Their Sundays as a family, were spent at Botale. After meeting constituents, the order of the day were four ‘B’’s. Bath, Beer, Buth and Bed!
The Gal-Oya scheme, the country’s first multi purpose project, for the transition to mechanized agriculture, was Dudley’s brainchild. His unchallenged integrity ensured that there were absolutely no allegations of corruption levelled at him. Gal-oya flowed where it had to flow and not into private companies.One recalls his simplicity today, when even as Prime Minister, he would drive his little Triumph Herald.The scenario today, with elephantine sized cabinets, has several vehicles and security accompanying the occupants and their families. Dudley had a great sense of vision and mission and shunned pomp and pageantry. He was never guilty of double standards in any situation. His transparent honesty of purpose and high honour were always maintained in the rich tapestry of his life. A modest man and a gentleman to his fingertips, he was an accomplished parliamentarian, his interventions in debate were always studied and polished.
The seething mass of humanity who made homage to him at his death, from all walks of life, and all sides of the political spectrum, were proof of the respect he commanded from one and all. This was his finest hour, when the country mourned as a whole, for one they regarded as a National Treasure. No crackers were lit at his death, everyone was in a state of shock, anguish and despair. It was Dudley’s dream that every Sri Lankan could proudly say ‘This is my own, my native land’. I hope and pray that this will come about one day, and that we will then again remember the late Dudley Senanayake, whose dream it was that this be so.