A man of the masses

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The stupendous political triumph that was recorded in 1977 not only stunned the people of this country but also those of the rest of the world. The late Sarathchandra Rajakaruna, who entered party politics quite unexpectedly back in 1974, also displayed a great liking to travel from village to village and mingle with the masses. He exhibited an uninhibited or unbridled enthusiasm to visit the homes of the poorest of the poor, to sit on parapet walls and to consume tea with jaggery. He loved to drink tea and then chew betel.

No promises

Rajakaruna thus managed to win over the hearts and minds of those villagers even during the little time he was able to spend with them. The support or the backing that he received from those villagers to win the Dompe seat, which was then considered as the second most formidable seat in the local political firmament at the time was immeasurable.

Though at the very outset Rajakaruna did not have much of an understanding of local politics or how it functioned, he travelled from town-to-town and identified the genuine needs of the masses. He was also astute enough not to give the populace any promises unlike today’s politicians. He did not have the expertise to fulfill any promises given to the public or how his political fate would turn out to be.

These traits in Rajakaruna prompted voters to visit polling booths in their numbers on polling day to cast their votes for him. As soon as midnight passed Election Day, sounds of firecrackers reverberated through the air. Villagers however could not initially fathom what was happening, then they began to look for a radio to know the reason behind the setting off of firecrackers one after another. Villagers then realised that their wishes had been fulfilled and they spent the night in contentment even though they did not have electricity in their houses, they were able to hear the election results from those who owned radios.

The next day dawned and the nation was in utter shock at the election results. The late politician was ready to welcome the scores of people who had converged on his house which was named ‘Sirisanda’ to celebrate the stunning political victory achieved by their beloved politician. The victory had been achieved with the blessings of his parents Muhandiram Ralahamy and his wife and with his parents, Rajakaruna greeted the masses who thronged his residence and treated them to milk rice.

The Tusker

A noticeable feature at the Rajakaruna’s residence was that, whenever the late politician was preparing to leave his house, his path was always blocked by the tusker known as ‘Menike’ who had been nurtured at the ancestral home. The tusker did not move till he was fed his share of either milk rice or a fruit!

The late Sarathchandra Rajakaruna who scored a momentous victory at the General Election was appointed as a Deputy Minister by then President J. R. Jayewardene. He was then able to regulate the services rendered by his Ministry with most of the other Ministries and thereby serve the people in an efficient manner. The former politician who entered politics even at a time when his own residence did not have electricity, took great pains to uplift the lives of the village people. The immense service rendered by Rajakaruna to his villagers during his lifetime has not been forgotten by a grateful people even to this day. If one were to visit the houses of those villagers one will be able to see a photo of the late politician adorning these houses and such has been their gratitude towards him.

Among other services rendered by this indefatigable politician was the renovation work that he had carried out in many temples, the development of the transport service, water supply, development of the highway system, improvements introduced to school education, regulating the supply of electricity to all and the introduction of various housing projects could be mentioned. In gratitude to these services rendered by this beloved politician, villagers decided to vote and send his offspring Harshana Rajakaruna to Parliament under the SJB ticket. The son too, has continued to follow in his esteemed father’s footsteps and serve the masses to the best of his ability.

MP Harshana Rajakaruna along with his family members have organised an alms-giving to the Maha Sangha this weekend to confer merit to his late father Sarathchandra Rajakaruna. May, he attain the Supreme Bliss of Nibbana.

By A Correspondent