Lucky March for a Prime Minister
Glancing through the records, Gaveshaka realized that the last week in March has been of special significance to a particular individual. He is Dudley Senanayake, who sat on the Prime Minister's seat three times. And all three times it happened during this week.
First it was March 26, 1952 – four days after the death of his father, first Prime Minister D. S. Senanayake. Although there was at least one minister (Sir John Kotelawela) senior to him, Governor-General Lord Soulbury who rushed back from London hearing of the Prime Minister's death (the acting Governor-General was Chief Justice Sir Alan Rose) appointed Dudley Senanayake. Obviously he thought he would have better support from the other ministers. He was then Minister of Agriculture & Lands, the portfolio his father had, prior to becoming Prime Minister.
A month later the Prime Minister dissolved Parliament and called for a general election which he won handsomely. However, on grounds of ill health he resigned in October 1953, making way for Sir John to take over as Prime Minister. He moved out of politics and watched his party, the United National Party (UNP) being routed at the 1956 general election and with Sir John quitting politics, staged a comeback to lead the party.
On March 23, 1960, Dudley Senanayake appointed his Cabinet after becoming Prime Minister but when the Speech from the Throne outlining the programme of the government got defeated, Parliament was dissolved a month later. He lost the election which was held in July 1960.
He once again became Prime Minister on March 25, 1965 after winning the general election and formed a 'National Government' with leaders of four other parties. Exactly five years later, after completing the full term of five years, he advised the Governor-General to dissolve Parliament on March 25, 1970. When the UNP failed to win a majority, he took a back seat, allowing J. R. Jayewardene to become the Leader of the Opposition. He died on April 13, 1973.
Having had his early education at
S. Thomas' College, he proceeded to Cambridge University where he completed the natural history tripos. He qualified as a barrister and practiced for a while before returning to Sri Lanka. He was elected to the State Council as member for Dedigama in 1936, which seat he continued to win in the subsequent elections held to elect members to the House of Representatives.