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Asian Tribune is published by World Institute For Asian Studies|Powered by WIAS Vol. 12 No. 2525

Anura no more

Sunil C. Perera in Colombo

Colombo, 16 March, ( Leading Parliamentarian Anura Solomon Dias Bandaranaike passed away a short while ago after a prolonged illeness. He died of heart attack on Sunday. His body is still laying at his Colombo's residence [Visumpaya ].Meanwhile President Mahindha Rajapaksha has instructed his officials to make arrangements for late Parliamentarian's final rites.He was former Parliament Speaker and the younger brother of Sri Lanka's former President Chandrika Bandaranaike Kumaratunga. Anura Solomon Dias Bandaranaike died of heart attack on Sunday.  His body is still laying at his Colombo's residence [Visumpaya ].Anura Solomon Dias Bandaranaike died of heart attack on Sunday. His body is still laying at his Colombo's residence [Visumpaya ].

Anura Priyadarshi Solomon Dias Bandaranaike (born February 15, 1949) is a Sri Lankan politician, last served as the minister of national heritage in the government of President Mahinda Rajapakse.

He has previously served as Speaker of the 11th Parliament, which lasted from 2000 to 2001, and as minister of several cabinet departments, including as minister of tourism from April 2004 to January 2007 and as Foreign Minister briefly in 2005. He is the son of former Prime Ministers Solomon West Ridgeway Dias Bandaranaike and Sirimavo Ratwatte Dias Bandaranaike and the brother of former President Chandrika Bandaranaike Kumaratunga and Sunethra Bandaranaike, philanthropist.

His family has a long history in the socio-political arena of the country. His grandfather, Sir Solomon Dias Bandaranike was the Maha Mudaliyar, (the chief native interpreter and advisor to the Governor) during British colonial rule. The Bandaranaikes are also closely related to the Obeyesekere family which remained faithful supporters of British Colonial rule. Because of these family connections, Bandaranaike as he is known among the voters of Gampaha district, is considered to be a relatively slow-moving politician who missed the chance of becoming the President of Sri Lanka on several occasions, as his sister Chandrika received the most support from their mother. He left his family's party in 1993 when his sister came back from London and did not join back until 2001.

Bandaranaike was born in Colombo, Sri Lanka and attended Royal College, Colombo. He then proceeded to London, U.K. to read for a degree but returned to enter politics without having obtained a degree. His father Solomon, while serving as prime minister, was assassinated when Bandaranaike was 10 years old. Bandaranaike was elected to Parliament in 1977 and has been a member since then. He was the leader of the opposition from 1983 to 1988, the minister of higher education from 1993 to 1994, and the speaker of Parliament from 2000 to 2001 when the party that his sister leads lost elections. He was in the Sri Lanka Freedom Party founded by his father for much of his political life, although he was an MP for the rival United National Party headed by his childhood friend when it was in the opposition. When the SLFP led alliance won the elections in 2004, Bandaranaike became minister of tourism, industry and investment.

Despite being in politics for over a quarter of a century, he has only been in a governing side for about 3 years.

Following the assassination of foreign minister Lakshman Kadirgamar in August 2005, Bandaranaike was appointed as foreign minister, amidst increased tension throughout the country. He dropped his position as minister of industry and investment, but remained tourism minister. He was later chosen as the running mate of Mahinda Rajapakse for the presidential campaign after the party rejected Bandaranaike's own ambitions of becoming the candidate.

Following Rajapakse's election victory it had been widely predicted that Bandaranaike would be appointed premier or foreign minister.

However he was accused of playing a "negative role" in the campaign and was offered only the tourism ministry instead. In a cabinet reshuffle in January 2007, Anura also lost the tourism ministry. On 9th February 2007, he was sacked as the minister of national heritage, together with ministers Mangala Samaraweera and Sripathi Sooriyarachchi after falling out with the president of Sri Lanka.

Less than two weeks later, after groveling before President Rajapakse, Bandaranaike agreed to come back into the government, again being sworn in as Minister of National Heritage. On the 14 December 2007 he crossed over to the opposition benches thus leaving his ministerial posts.

- Asian Tribune -

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