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DUDLEY  SENANAYAKE : The incomparable statesman

11 April 2013 07:27 pm - 8     - {{hitsCtrl.values.hits}}


By Ilica Malkanthi Karunaratne

As the country sinks more and more into a labyrinth from which there seems no escape, one is reminded of the late Dudley, to whom Democracy, Freedom and the rule of law meant so much. All this and more have eroded today, beyond repair, and it seems that none of them exists in our country anymore.

It is sad that so many years after his death, a reference was made to attempt to sling mud at him, by one who should have known better. This was to accuse him of involvement in plans for a coup, using something supposed to have been said by the late Sir John Kotelawala. One doesn’t have to be Einstein to know that the latter hated the late Dudley, simply because he expected to succeed the late D .S Senanayake as Prime Minister, instead of Dudley. There have been more than one excellent contradiction of this fabricated accusation but I would like to quote from Dudley himself on this. Speaking in Parliament on the 13th of February,1962, he said ‘I intend taking part straightaway in this debate because insinuations of a vile nature have been made against me in this debate. I am not here to defend myself against accusations of that nature. I am here to make some very important and relevant points about the investigations that are going on. As regards my own innocence, I am fully aware of that innocence and no insinuations on the part of the Hon Minister of Finance can make me guilty of what he seeks to insinuate. I am prepared to face any impartial tribunal and establish my innocence beyond a shadow of a doubt and I ask for no mercy. If you have anything against me, arrest me. I am not afraid, If you have anything against me, question me, and I will say a lot of things and I am going to say a few things now. You need not be afraid to arrest me. I know my innocence, my absolute innocence’.

Anyone who knew or worked with the late Dudley, was aware that he was a true liberal democrat, who would never tread any other path than that of 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 others, in every sense of the term. Both he and his father, the late D.S. Senanayake, the father of the Nation, have always stood for an united  country, where all our citizens are treated as equal citizens, irrespective of community. This is what the very name of the United National Party stands for. Recently, Anandasangaree of the TNA, at the launch of a biography of the late DS written by his grandson, Rukman, announced that the late DS had promised to always look after the minorities His son,Dudley, strived hard and long to adhere to his father’s wish which was also his. Ranil Wickremesinghe, Leader of the UNP, also stated at the meeting, that the country wouldn’t have faced all the problems we had, if D.S’ policies had been followed to the letter.

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 whose solid muscularity, excited 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 Parliaments, 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 or beyond the precincts of that most august assembly. Politicians of that era respected each other’s views even in disagreement. Diverse political affiliations did not mean political enmity, vulgar abuse and violent behaviour.

Perhaps the fact that he was a cricketer,  instilled in him his sense of justice and fairplay, which was a hallmark of his tenure in politics. His other hobbies of music, reading and photography were also that 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 criticised 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

Dudley Senanayake was a devout Buddhist, but one who believed that everyone should have the right to practise the religion of his choice in peace and absolute freedom. That is  true tolerance as preached by Lord 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, while speaking on the book on D.S commented 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 was four ‘b’ s. Bath, Beer,Buth and Bed!

The Gal-Oya scheme,the country’s first multi-purpose project for the transition to mechanised 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 an elephantine sized cabinet, 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 was 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, was 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, whose dream it was that this be so.
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  Comments - 8

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  • JAY Saturday, 13 April 2013 11:48 PM

    all these corrupt criminal uneducated underworld lunatic crooks who are in parliament and governing our country is not even capable of cleaning toilets of dudly senanayake.

    Sonali De Silva Friday, 12 April 2013 04:05 AM

    What happened to our blessed country, how has it turned out the way it is today? I don't know if we have enough word to describe the present situation in our country. This article would strike the hearts of all decent humans. But do we have them anymore in our parliament? Sadly no.

    Mason Friday, 12 April 2013 04:22 AM

    Dudley was an uncorrupt politician with no malice in his heart. There is none of his caliber today which is very sad to contemplate.

    Bob Seygal Monday, 15 April 2013 12:08 PM

    Why you only should be treated with dignity and self respect, when other Sri Lankans too do not enjoy dignity and self respect. What is special about you?...

    TNT Sunday, 14 April 2013 07:48 PM

    Well said JAY,What is happening now in Sri Lanka , Dudley will be praying in heaven for the people Sri Lanka. In deed he is true statemen where no politician in present can not match even his stool and urine.

    paths Sunday, 14 April 2013 09:53 PM

    DS, Dudley, Sir John, SWRD, Srimavo & Oliver Guna.
    None of them could assure a life of dignity & self respect
    to Tamils & Muslims.
    No wonder island is falling into a labyrinth.
    It is only with the willing combined efforts of the minorities
    that the Island can be saved from an iminent financial collapse. Peace by peace the island is being mortgaged with the ruling classes enriching themselves.
    Thanks to the plentiful Waraka for the Singalese & the Palmyrah for the Tamils, people r surviving.

    Nims Monday, 15 April 2013 01:59 AM

    It is time to set at least a basic Degree as the minimum qualification to contest in a Parliamentary Elections in future. If not our Motherland will be ruled by Mee Harak with Honorary Doctorates- Eg Mervyn Silva

    willows Friday, 12 April 2013 10:08 AM

    when we read this article, we feel sorry for all srilankans at present

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