George Rajapakse


george.jpg (8145 bytes) When called upon to make comment on the life and times of a dynamic politician there is always a lingering doubt, that one cannot say enough. This is specially true when we commemorate the 25th death anniversary of the late Mr. George Rajapakse. He was a politician of multi faceted talents; a charismatic leader, scintillating public speaker, and a skilled debater.

Above all else, he was the guardian of a rich and unique politician tradition. His father, D. M. Rajapakse, was called the "lion of the Ruhuna" a legendary politician in his day. He took on the might of the British Raj, relentlessly persuing the cause of the landless, poverty stricken peasantry from the Giruwa Pattuwa, in the District of Hambantota.

George, in his own inimitable style, added colour and distinction to this tradition and left an indelible impression on the minds and the lives of the people he loved and served.

In his early thirties, George entered Parliament as the member for Mulkirigala and served for a brief period as the Deputy Minister of Finance, in my mother’s first Government. He resigned in protest at the withdrawal of the subsidy on rice, impetuous but courageous act. In 1970, George was appointed Minister of Fisheries and then Minister of Health, in my mother’s second Government, which he served with unquestionable loyalty and commitment.

Blessed with a sophisticated, easy going and a mischevious personality, George was liked and admired by friend and foe. He took great pride in his "Kurakkan Shawl" as he did perhaps, in the willow he wielded so elegently and effectively as Royal’s cricket Captain.

The Bandaranaike’s and the Rajapakse’s have been close political and personal allies, for well over 50 years. D. M. Rajapakse was a close political associate of my father in the days of the State Council, before Independence. His brother, D. A. Rajapakse, who succeeded him, was the only member to cross the floor with my father from the then mighty Government of the late Mr. D. S. Senanayake, a act of great loyalty and affection. Our two families have been politically intertwined, since then, which continues to this day.

The legacy that George left behind has been carried by members of his family, who still continue to work for and represent the people of the Giruwa Pattuwa, who have reposed their confidence, at election after election, in this unique family of the Ruhuna.

Anura Bandaranaike