RAJAPAKSA VIDANARACHCHI - Family #3086
D. A. Rajapaksa: an exemplary politician
by Prof. W. I. Siriweera
- Daily News Monday Nov 11 2002
Don Alwin Rajapaksa was
perhaps the most outstanding democratic politician produced by the Ruhuna
region. He vehemently advocated the cause of the Ruhuna peasants throughout his
career, while maintaining a quiet demeanour and a steady resolve. The country
lost this able and amiable personality on November 7, 1967.
He was born on 5th November
1905 in a hamlet called Madamulana and had his early education at Mandaduva
School in Weerakatiya. His father Don David Rajapaksa who held the post of
Vidanaracchi in Ihala Valikada Korale, Giruvapattuva in the Hambantota District,
sent him for secondary education to Richmond College, Galle. Having completed
his school education successfully, he helped his father to manage the family
property which consisted of paddy fields and coconut plantations.
He also helped his elder
brother D. M. Rajapaksa, who was the State Councillor for Hambantota in
attending to affairs of the electorate. Thus he got sufficient experience in the
field of politics, but was reluctant to contest the Hambantota seat at the
by-election of 1945 on the death of his brother.
politically influential people in the area insisted that he should contest the
by-election and were finally successful in dragging him into active politics. He
won the seat at the by-election and was included in the Committee on Agriculture
and Land in the State Council. This gave him a good opportunity to tackle the
problem of landlessness of the peasantry of Giruvapattuva. DA adopted a 99-year
lease scheme to transfer crown land to landless peasants in five acre plots. For
the middle income earners, the land extending from 10 to 50 acres was alienated
in the same manner. These measures in fact gave a boost to the paddy and coconut
cultivations in Giruva Pattuva.
When the first parliamentary
general elections were held in 1947 under the new constitution, the former
Hambantota electorate was divided into two, namely, Beliatta and Tissamaharama
electorate. Most of Western Giruva Pattuva was included in the Beliatta
electorate. D. A. Rajapaksa contested in Beliatta on the UNP ticket and
triumphed at the elections.
When S. W. R. D.
Bandaranaike was disgruntled over the policies of the United National Party and
left it to form the Sri Lanka Freedom Party in 1951, D. A. Rajapaksa who was a
close associate of Bandaranaike followed suit. It was the Rajapaksas who gave
the maximum strength and support in Ruhuna to Bandaranaike at the general
elections of 1952 winning the Beliatta electorate for the SLFP. Later on, in the
historic general elections of 1956, which changed the course of our history, D.
A. Rajapaksa and the family and their supporters were a source of strength to
the MEP coalition. DA was elected MP for Beliatta and in 1959 he was appointed
the Minister of Agriculture and Lands.
In fact D. A. Rajapaksa's
ups and downs in the political arena are identical to the vicissitudes of the
Sri Lanka Freedom Party at the time. At the general election of 1960, when the
SLFP was defeated and the UNP formed a government, DA too lost his seat at
Beliatta. But when the UNP government was dissolved and the parliamentary
elections were held for the second time in July of the same year, DA once again
emerged victorious at Beliatta and was a great inspiration to the government led
by Sirimavo Bandaranaike.
He was appointed Deputy
Chairman of Committees in Parliament and subsequently Deputy Speaker. When the
SLFP lost to the Dudley Senanayake-led UNP in the 1965 elections, DA also lost
his parliamentary seat.
Rajapaksas were never bent
on making money out of politics. On the contrary, they had sacrificed their
material wealth for the sake of politics. At the defeat in the 1965 general
elections, DA not only lost his political power but was also devoid of material
wealth. During this period all his children, Chamal, Mahinda, Basil, Gothabhaya
and Dudley were studying in Colombo and he found it difficult to meet their
expenses. He sold his vehicle, leased his coconut lands and went through
enormous hardships to sustain the family. When he fell seriously ill in November
1967, there wasn't a vehicle nearby to take him to hospital. When transport was
arranged belatedly his heart condition had worsened. After admission to hospital
this great servant of the people expired. The people of Giruva Pattuva and
Ruhuna lost a great leader.
D. A. Rajapaksa was
undoubtedly a politician par excellence and a noble human being. He showed
genuine goodwill towards the ordinary masses, moved with them and even joined
the workers in his paddy fields in ploughing and harvesting paddy. That explains
why the memory of his pleasant, unassuming personality has not faded even thirty
five years after his demise.
D. A. Rajapaksa, through his
exemplary political career and through wise counselling by his beloved wife
Palatuwe Dandina Dissanayake, has guided his children over pitfalls and over
rough terrain which politicians encounter in pursuing their objectives. It is up
to Chamal, Mahinda and Basil, who also have taken to politics, to live up to his
expectations and maintain the dignity and decorum which their father had
cultivated even while being a politician.
He held the post of
Vidanarachchi in Ihala Valikada Korale, Giruvapattuva in the Hambantota
State councilor for Hambantota
was one of the founder members of the Sri Lanka Freedom Party and was also
Deputy Speaker of Parliament.
He was appointed as the Leader of the Opposition in 2001.
Alvin Rajapaksa (1905-1967) + Dandina Dissanayake