of the Nation
D. S., the younger brother of
F. R., took off from where the elder brother stopped
and having entered the legislature in 1924, he
remained a member of the Legislative Council,
State Council and Parliament until his death in
1952. His active role as a reformist, his shrewd
political acumen and leadership qualities made
him the first Prime Minister of independent Sri
Lanka in 1948 earning him the title 'Father of
|F. R. Senanayake
Agriculture and irrigation were
his main interests. Having begun life as a clerk
in the Surveyor-General's department, he resigned
quite early to manage family properties, which
made him interested in agriculture. As a member
of the Land Commission from 1927, he was actively
involved in working towards improving the lot
of the landless peasants. In 1932 he wrote: "Colonization
of the dry zone is the only way out," and
proceeded to set up the Minneriya scheme marking
the rehabilitation of the Polonnaruwa district.
It was his great achievement
as Minister of Agriculture and Lands in the mid-1930s.
He was responsible for the massive Gal Oya Scheme,
the first major project since the days of the
After becoming Prime Minister,
he ensured the continuity of his agricultural
policy by appointing his son, Dudley as minister
in charge of the subject.
Having worked with Sir Baron
Jayatilaka in gaining independence from the British,
he assumed leadership after Sir Baron's retirement
from politics in 1943 and guided the country towards
gaining independence. He formed and led the United
National Party (UNP) to victory at the general
election of 1947 under the Soulbury Constitution
becoming, Prime Minister.
A fall from the horse he was
riding on Galle Face Green on March 22, 1952 led
to his death.