Family jewels on parade in new parliament
Ancestry and genealogy have played a massive role in electing parliamentarians in this week’s polls. A large proportion of the legislature is made up of relatives and descendants of former political bigwigs.
The most prominent family ties are those of the Rajapaksa clan. Former president Mahinda Rajapaksa has returned to the chamber with his son, Namal. A third- generation politician, Namal Rajapaksa contested in the same dis- trict as his uncle, Chamal Rajapaksa, who also secured a seat. D. A. Rajapaksa, father of the senior Rajapaksas, had been an MP in the 1947 parliament.
The other father- son combination in the current parliament is Dr Rajitha Senaratne and Chathura Senaratne , a first- time MP. Father- and- son combinations have been a winning manthra on a few other occasions as well. Former prime minister D.S. Senanayake and his son, Dudley, were in State Council together and, following the Independence, in parliament, while in 2001 the late Alick Aluvihare and the late Reggie Ranatunga sat in parliament alongside their sons.
Dr. Sarath Amunugama and Dilum Amunugama, uncle and nephew, will also be sitting in the new legislature. Dr. Amunugama has been nominated through the UPFA national list while Dilum was voted in from the Kandy district. Husband and wife Daya and Anoma Gamage are also returning to parliament, the former being elected from the Digamadulla District and the latter as a National List nominee.
The 15th parliament also includes a number of children and grandchildren of former prime ministers. The greatgrandson of D. S. Senanayake, Wasantha Senanayake, has been able to secure a seat while his uncle, Rukman Senanayake, a former minister, lost the race this time. Junior Senananayake’s cousin and new Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe’s nephew, Ruwan Wijewardene, was also returned to parliament from the Gampaha district.
Vidura Wickremanayaka, son of former prime minister Rathnasiri Wickremanayaka, was successful in his bid to return to parliament. Anuradha Jayaratne, the son of yet another former prime minister, D. M. Jayaratne was also successful in his maiden attempt. Former president Ranasinghe Premadasa’s son, Sajith, retained his seat.
Brothers Naveen and Mayantha Dissanayake will enter the legislature following their father, the late minister, Gamini Dissanayake. Mayantha is another fresher in the new parliament. Naveen’s father- in- law, Karu Jayasuriya, is set to be chosen Speaker.
Siblings Wasantha and Ranjith Aluvihare, sons of former minister Alick Aluvihare, secured victory this year. Two out of three Ranatunga brothers, Arjuna and Prasanna, were successful from opposing sides.
Following their fathers, 17 offspring of popular politicians have secured seats, among them, the late Berty Premalal Dissanayake’s son, Duminda Dissanayake in Polonnaruwa.
Bharatha Lakshman Premachandra’s daughter, Hirunika, is a first- time MP alongside Kanchana Wijesekera, son of former cabinet minister Mahinda Wijesekera. The newcomers had been provincial councillors before entering parliament.
Ramesh Pathirana, former UPFA minister Richard Pathirana’s son, has retained his seat as has his rival, Gayantha Karunathilaka, son of Rupa Karunathilaka, a minister in the former UNP government. Former minister Vincent Perera’s son Sanjaya Perera was elected from the Ratnapura district while Philip Gunawardena’s son, UPFA strongman Dinesh Gunawardena, made a successful bid for his seat although his brother, Geethanjana, fell short.
Chandima Gamage, son of former parliamentarian Lal Gamage, Mahanama Samaraweera's son, Mangala, and S.D.R. Jayaratne’s son, Priyankara, also won seats.
Former minister Anuruddha Ratwatte’s son, Lohan Ratwatte, has made a comeback. The former president, Chandrika Kumaratunga, is his cousin. T. B. Tennakoon’s son, Janaka Bandara Tennakoon, has also been re- elected. Former MP Yasaratne Tennakoon is his brother. J. C. Alawathuwala, son of J. C. Alawathuwala, won in Kurunegala. The son of Festus and Mary Perera, Niroshan Perera, secured victory while the nephew of B. L. Wijemanna, Lakshman Wijemanna, was also re-elected.
G. V. Punchinilame's son Susantha Punchinilame, and T. Siddharthan, son of D. Siddharthan, were successful in returning to parliament. D.V. Chanaka, son of provincial councillor D. V. Upul, who was recently arrested over a controversial statement he made, entered parliament for the first time. He is one of its youngest members.
The daughters of former MPs Dharmadasa Wanniarachchi and Chandra Bandara, Pavithra Wanniarachchi and Chandrani Bandara, have re-entered the legislature.
Rohini Kaviratne, widow of provincial councillor Sanjeewa Kaviratne, daughter of ex- minister the late Wijeratne Banda and daughter- in- law of former minister P. B. Kaviratne, also secured a seat in her maiden contest. The widow of former minister T. Maheswaran, Wijayakala Maheshwaran, Jeyaraj Fernandopulle’s widow, Dr. Sudarshani Fernandopulle, and Sumedha B. Jayasena’s widow, Sumedha G. Jayasena, also regained their seats.
Husband and wife Sarath and Anoma Fonseka, contesting for the Democratic Party in Colombo and Gampaha, failed to make the mark along with their former son- in law, Danuna Thilakaratne, who contested from Colombo.