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First death anniversary of former Minister R. M. Dharmadasa Banda:

The Uncrowned Prince of Wellassa

October 23rd marks the first death anniversary of late Parliamentarian R. M. Dharmadasa Banda from Bibile Wellassa.

Wellassa is famed in legend and history for its great hero Monarawila Keppetipola and other heroes who laid down their lives to liberate their motherland from foreign invasion and aggression.

Wellassa was also renowned for its lush green paddy fields, orchards of luscious oranges and springs of crystal clear water. The word Wellassa implies hundred thousand paddy fields.


R. M. Dharmadasa Banda

Late R. M. Dharmadasa Banda was born on February 7, 1938. He hailed from an influential distinguished family from Medagama Bibile. His father R. M. Kiribanda was the Chief Village Headman of Medagam Pattuwa, Bibile Wellassa.

Primary education

He received his primary education at Medagama MV Bibile and proceeded to Colombo for his post primary and higher education. The Chief Incumbent and Sanganayka late Ven Pitadeniye Sri Ratanapala of Medagama Anandaramaya also a celebrated teacher at Mahabodhi College and Ananda College Colombo at that time, having recognized the talents and potential of the boy patronized to bring him to Colombo for his future well-being.

Spiritual guide

The late venerable was his teacher, preacher and spiritual guide throughout. He described him as ‘the Prince of Wellassa’ because he brought credit and pride to Wellassa.

The late minister received his education at Ananda Sasthralaya, Kotte and then at Zahira College Maradana during the Principalship of late Dr. A. M. A. Azeez who saw a golden era dawn at Zahira. The late minister excelled in English medium studies up to the University entrance. He played cricket and volleyball for Zahira. He captained the volleyball team and was a colour holder in cricket.

After completing his studies he came back to Bibile and was determined to serve the down trodden masses. He was unanimously elected the chairman of the Medagama VC.

Then he got an appointment as a specialist English teacher. In a short space of time he became very popular among his students in the Uva.

Youngest MP

Late Dharmadasa Banda was the younger brother of late parliamentarian R.M. Gunasekara, MP for Bibile, who was assassinated by an unidentified gunman. Since then late Dharmadasa Banda became the caretaker and guardian of his dead brother’s only son Ranjith Madduma Bandara, the present Moneragala District MP. After his brother’s untimely death he became the chief UNP organizer for Bibile and gained immense support from the masses.

Elected to Parliament in 1965 to fill the vacuum created by the death of his brother R. M. Gunasekara, late Dharmadasa Banda rendered a great service to Bibile and its outskirts being the youngest MP in Parliament at the age of 27. He could not retain his seat at the 1970 General Election because the ULF acquired a landslide victory.

Future prospects

He entered Law College for better future prospects and passed out as the first attorney-at-law from the Moneragala district.

He was re-elected in 1977 and was appointed the Deputy Minister of Textile and Handloom Industries. He did his best to develop textile industries and safeguarded the interest of small scale Handloom industrialists.

He was re-elected in 1989 and was appointed the Agricultural Development and Research Minister.

Farmers’ Day

During his tenure of office he regularized the farmers’ pension scheme. He took steps to boost paddy production, subsidiary crop production and sugar cane cultivation in the Moneragala and Ampara areas. The construction of agricultural wells in the Dry Zone around paddy lands to provide water to cultivate vegetables and other subsidiary food crops during droughts was a concept of the late minister.

He organized and initiated the Farmers’ Day to inspire the farmer folk. The Farmers’ Day was celebrated on a very grand scale at Kettarama Stadium with the participation of late President R. Premadasa. He worked hard to revitalize the orange cultivation that had been ruined by a leaf pest and fungi with the help of local and foreign expertise. He restored the abandoned irrigation works, dams, anicuts etc in the dry zone. He achieved credit as one of the best Ministers of Agriculture we have had.

He joined the UPFA government in 2005 to extend support to President Mahinda Rajapaksa to liberate our motherland from ruthless terrorism that plagued the country for decades. He held the portfolio of the Minister of Minor Export Crops.

He was equally eloquent in English and Sinhala. He was a handsome leader with appealing personality to behold. His mere presence inspired the people. People of Wellassa loved him dearly because he was committed and dedicated to service.

He passed away on October 23, 2010.

May he attain Nibbana.

The lives of great men all remind us.
We can make our lives sublime
And departing leave behind us
Foot prints in the sands of time.

- Henry Wordsworth Longfellow

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