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D. A. Rajapaksa who felt the heartbeat of the People

40th death anniversary of D. A. Rajapaksa falls today:

D. A. Rajapaksa was one of the founder members of the Sri Lanka Freedom Party who contributed a great deal along with S. W. R. D. Bandaranaike in the formation of the party. He was a leader of the rural masses who is remembered as an honest politician and a friend of the rural people.

It is a Buddhist principle to honour those who are worthy of honour. Accordingly the celebrations organised by the people to commemorate late D. A. Rajapaksa and express gratitude to him who has rendered a great service to the people should be appreciated. D. A. Rajapaksa entered politics accidentally.

When his brother D. M. Rajapaksa passed away the constituency of Hambantota in the State Council fell vacant and the people of the area strongly requested him to represent the constituency of Hambantota and as a result he succeeded his brother.

As a result of this request D. A. Rajapaksa entered the State Council as a member representing Hambantota in 1945. The symbol of D. A. Rajapaksa's rural life was the Kurahan Satakaya (shawl in the colour of Kurakkan); he lived with rural masses intimately spending time in the Hena, paddy field and cottage.

D. A. Rajapaksa functioned as a Member of Parliament continuously except for two years. During this period he served as a Junior Minister, a Deputy Speaker and an Acting Minister. He used his voice in Parliament in order to solve the problems of Hambantota peasants and rendered a great service on behalf of them. When we look at the history of Hambantota it is known as a very remote area.

In the olden day the rural people had to pay even ransom to the Mudaliyars and Muhandirams who ruled the area. The two young brothers D. M. Rajapaksa and D. A. Rajapaksa fought against such injustices and rendered a great service to the oppressed rural peasants.

During those days, the poor peasantry in Giruvapattuwa experienced much difficulty in taking the farm produce including paddy and Kurakkan as well as handicrafts to the market and weekly fairs.

There were some who suffered due to caste differences too. The two Rajapaksa brothers D. M. and D.A. were able to liberate the rural masses from such hindrances and rendered a service to the people in the Hambantota District.

D. A. Rajapaksa's guidance and encouragement as well as his proposals were of paramount importance and contributed very much to the passing of the Paddy Land Act. which guaranteed the ownership of land to the tenant farmer. Thus he rendered a great service as Deputy Minister in this task.

It was D. A. Rajapaksa while he was the junior minister of Land and Land Development that initiated the Chandrika Wewa Irrigation Scheme which was the first phase of Walawe River Development scheme inaugurated on 07.10.1957 for farmers in Embilipitiya area who had suffered gravely and led a miserable life.

This was a multipurpose agricultural project for farmers. It was implemented by the Prime Minister S. W. R. D. Bandaranaike and the then Minister of Land and Land Development C. P. de Silva on the invitation of D. A. Rajapaksa.

He emphasised the importance of the development of small tanks and took action to uplift the people in the area by creating and constructing Muruthawela reservoir.

He made lands available not only for paddy cultivation but also for high land farming too and encouraged the people to engage in export crop farming also.

Under his guidance the people were encouraged to take to citronella farming on barren and steep lands to derive an additional income. He established a paper mill at Embilipitiya for production of paper using straw and strengthened the economy of the people by also introducing cotton plantation in Hambantota to plant cotton using rainwater during the Yala season.

He provided guidance and extended co-operation for the development of production in the handloom textile industry and rural industries craft based on silver, gold and brass.

He also started setting up indigenous dispensaries and hospitals in order to give an honourable place to the indigenous doctor and medicine.

He built new schools and recruited teachers from among young males and females in the area itself and enhanced the education by getting specialised teachers from outside also. Further he launched a programme of improving the health services by establishing hospitals of western medicine.

He took action to accelerate the development of the infrastructure by providing electricity and developing highways.

D. A. Rajapaksa was a true Buddhist and his political career was just and fair. He possessed the quality of taking bold decisions and did not forget to take the leading part in the struggles of workers and farmers.

He produced exemplary children and they marched in the way he wished and they perform a distinguished service to the country and the nation. The senior sons Minister Chamal Rajapaksa, President Mahinda Rajapaksa, Basil Rajapaksa MP and Gotabaya Rajapaksa, Defence Secretary render a valuable service for the country just like Late D. A. Rajapaksa.

Great sons of people like D. A. Rajapaksa are very rare. D. A. Rajapaksa who realised the heartbeat of the people did not confine his service only to Giruvapattuwa and he was fortune enough to make the services of his sons available to whole Sri Lanka. It is with great pleasure I wish to mention that D. A. Rajapaksa was a real son of the people who possessed a lot of noble qualities which are invaluable.

D. A. Rajapaksa who devoted his full time for the fulfilment of needs of the people of Giruwapattuwa in Hambantota District which had been one of the remotest areas and performed an invaluable service by uplifting the health services and education, transport services with the construction of roads and building of schools and hospitals.

It has to be mentioned that the gentleman political career of this modest politician who was modest in qualities is an example to the whole country. Honest politicians of his calibre are rare.

I believe that he is still living in the hearts of the people of Hambantota because of his noble qualities as an honest politician and a leader of rural masses. The policies of D. A. Rajapaksa were fit for the past and are fit for present and future equally.

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