Rajitha Senaratne

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Rajitha Senaratne
රාජිත සේනාරත්න
Dr.Rajitha Senaratna.jpg
Senaratne in November 2014
Project Minister of Land
In office
December 2001 – April 2004
Minister of Construction and Engineering Services
In office
January 2007 – April 2010
Preceded by Ferial Ashraff
Succeeded by Wimal Weerawansa
Minister of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources Development
In office
April 2010 – November 2014
Preceded by Felix Perera
Succeeded by M. Joseph Michael Perera
Minister of Health and Indigenous Medicine[a]
Assumed office
January 2015
Preceded by Tissa Attanayake
Member of the Sri Lankan Parliament
for National List
In office
In office
Member of the Sri Lankan Parliament
for Kalutara District
Assumed office
Personal details
Born (1950-05-29) 29 May 1950 (age 67)
Political party Democratic National Movement
Other political
United National Front for Good Governance
Alma mater University of Sri Lanka
Profession Dentist
Ethnicity Sinhalese
Website www.rajithasenaratne.com

Nambukara Helambage Rajitha Harischandra Senaratne (born 29 May 1950) is a Sri Lankan dentist, politician, Member of Parliament and cabinet minister.

Early life and family[edit]

Senaratne was born 29 May 1950.[1] He was the son of N. H. D. A. Senaratne and D. W. B. Senaratne.[2] He was educated at Nalanda College, Colombo and Ananda College.[3][4][5] After school he joined the University of Ceylon, Peradeniya in 1971, graduating from its successor, the University of Sri Lanka Peradeniya campus, in 1974 with a degree in dentistry.[3][6] Whilst at university he was president of the student wing of the Sri Lanka Freedom Party (SLFP).[7][8][a]

Senaratne is married to dentist Sujatha.[4][7] They have two sons - Chathura and Eksath.[9][10][11]


Senaratne became involved in leftist politics whilst serving as general-secretary of the Government Dentists’ Association/Government Dental Surgeons Association between 1975 and 1989.[3][6] He was very critical of the Jayewardene government and its policies.[6] When film actor Vijaya Kumaratunga left the SLFP and founded the Sri Lanka People's Party (Sri Lanka Mahajana Pakshaya) (SLPP) in the early 1980s Senaratne joined the newly formed party.[6][7] The SLPP became a target of the Janatha Vimukthi Peramuna (JVP) during its second insurrection.[6] Senaratne was critical of the JVP's violence and "eye for an eye, tooth for a tooth" policy and became a target of the JVP.[6] On 17 October 1988 the JVP attacked an election rally for SLPP presidential candidate Ossie Abeygunasekera at Grandpass in Colombo, killing three.[12] Senaratne sustained injuries in the attack which left two pieces of shrapnel in his skull.[6]

In 1988 the Communist Party of Sri Lanka (CPSL), Lanka Sama Samaja Party (LSSP), Nava Sama Samaja Party and SLPP formed the United Socialist Alliance (USA).[13] Senaratne was one of the USA's candidates at the 1988 provincial council election and was elected to the Western Provincial Council.[6][8] He was one of the USA's candidates in Colombo District at the 1989 parliamentary election but the USA failed to win any seats in the district.[14][15]

Abeygunasekera, who had taken over leadership of the SLPP following the assassination of Kumaratunga in February 1988, started moving the SLPP towards the governing United National Party (UNP).[7][8] Kumaratunga's widow Chandrika Kumaratunga was expelled from the SLPP.[7] Senaratne and other Chandrika loyalists formed the People's Freedom Front (Bahujana Nidahas Peramuna) (PFF).[7][8] Chandrika Kumaratunga was the PFF's leader whilst Senaratne was its general-secretary.[16] Chandrika Kumaratunga rejoined the SLFP later.[16]

When the PFF and SLPP formed the SLFP dominated People's Alliance (PA) Senaratne joined the UNP on the invitation of president D. B. Wijetunga and was appointed a UNP National List MP in the Sri Lankan Parliament in 1994.[6][16][17][18] Senaratne became a vocal critic of Chandrika Kumaratunga, who had been elected president in November 1994, and her PA government.[19] On 31 March 2000 the Court of Appeal upheld a petition against Senaratne, ruling that he was disqualified from sitting or voting in Parliament as he had done business with state institutions.[19][20] The petition had been brought by deputy minister Dilan Perera who had been represented in court by lawyer Wijeyadasa Rajapakshe.[21] Using a legal loophole the UNP re-appointed Senaratne to the vacant National List seat cause by his unseating.[6][18]

Senaratne was one of the UNP's candidates in Kalutara District at the 2000 parliamentary election. He was elected and re-entered Parliament.[22] He was re-elected at the 2001 parliamentary election as a United National Front (UNF) candidate.[23] The UNF defeated the PA at the election after which Senaratne was appointed Project Minister of Land.[24][25] Senaratne contested the 2004 parliamentary election as one of the UNF's candidates in Kalutara District. He was elected and re-entered Parliament.[26] He however lost his ministerial position after the UNF was defeated by the newly formed United People's Freedom Alliance (UPFA).

In January 2007 several UNF MPs including Senaratne defected to the SLFP dominated UPFA government.[27][28][29] Senaratne was rewarded by being appointed Minister of Construction and Engineering Services.[30][31] Senaratne contested the 2010 parliamentary election as one of the UPFA's candidates in Kalutara District. He was elected and re-entered Parliament.[32] He was appointed Minister of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources Development after the election.[33][34][35][36] Senaratne was awarded an honorary doctorate from the St. Petersburg Fundamental International Educational Institute in 2011.[3] Senaratne's wife Sujatha was appointed director of the National Hospital of Sri Lanka, a move that was seen a political nepotism.[4] The appointment was nulified by the Supreme Court but she was subsequently appointed Additional Secretary (Public Health Services).[37]

Senaratne left the UPFA in November 2014 to support common opposition candidate Maithripala Sirisena at the 2015 presidential election.[38][39][40] Senaratne and other SLFP MPs who supported Sirisena were stripped of their ministerial positions and expelled from the SLFP.[41][42][43][44] After the election newly elected President Sirisena rewarded Senaratne by appointing him Minister of Health and Indigenous Medicine.[45][46][47] Sirisena became chairman/leader of the SLFP on 16 January 2015.[48][49] Subsequently, Sirisena supporters, including Senaratne, who had been expelled from the SLFP were readmitted to the SLFP and Senaratne became a vice president of the SLFP in February 2015.[50][51] In March 2015 Gamini Ranasinghe and his wife accused Senaratne's son Eksath of abducting their teenage daughter Dinithe Aloka, who was sixteen years old at the time of abduction in February 2014, and keeping her at Senaratne's official residence in Colombo.[52][53][54] Senaratne denied the accusations of abduction, saying that Dinithe Aloka had "come willingly".[55]

In July 2015 Senaratne and other supporters of President Sirisena formed the United National Front for Good Governance (UNFGG) to contest the parliamentary election.[56][57][58] Senaratne was one of the UNFGG's candidates in Kalutara District at the 2015 parliamentary election. Senaratne and other SLFP members, who accepted nominations by the UNFGG in response to former President Mahinda Rajapaksa being granted SLFP nomination to contest the election, had their SLFP membership suspended by President Sirisena, leader of the SLFP and UPFA[59][60] They subsequently joined the Democratic National Movement.[61][62] Senaratne was re-elected at the election and re-entered Parliament.[63][64] His cabinet portfolio was changed to Minister of Health, Nutrition and Indigenous Medicine after the election.[65][66][67]

Senaratne suffered a heart attack on 19 February 2016 and was initially treated at a private hospital in Colombo.[68][69][70] He was flown to the private Mount Elizabeth Hospital in Singapore where he underwent a three hour heart bypass surgery on 19 February 2016.[71][72] After a period of recovery, Senaratne returned to Sri Lanka on 17 March 2016.[73][74]

Electoral history[edit]

Electoral history of Rajitha Senaratne
Election Constituency Party Votes Result
1988 provincial USA Elected
1989 parliamentary[15] Colombo District USA 8,627 Not elected
2000 parliamentary[22] Kalutara District UNP 73,382 Elected
2001 parliamentary[23] Kalutara District UNF 102,919 Elected
2004 parliamentary[26] Kalutara District UNF 97,001 Elected
2010 parliamentary[32] Kalutara District UPFA 66,710 Elected
2015 parliamentary[75] Kalutara District UNFGG 142,186 Elected


  1. ^ Another source says that Senaratne was general-secretary of the Inter University Students' Federation between 1971 and 1973.[3]


  1. ^ "Directory of Members: Rajitha Senaratne". Parliament of Sri Lanka. 
  2. ^ Rajapakshe, Daya Sri Narendra (27 May 2014). "Rajitha, a symbol in practical politics". news.lk. 
  3. ^ a b c d e Wijewardena, Don Asoka (2 September 2011). "PhD doctorate conferred on Rajitha". The Island (Sri Lanka). 
  4. ^ a b c Liyanasuriya, Sathya (26 June 2013). "Swimming against the tide on 13A". The Daily Mirror (Sri Lanka). 
  5. ^ "Old Nalandians elected MPs to be felicitated". Daily News (Sri Lanka). 27 March 2002. 
  6. ^ a b c d e f g h i j "Rajitha’s Lone Battle Against BBS". The Sunday Leader. 6 July 2014. 
  7. ^ a b c d e f Chandraprema, C. A. (14 November 2001). "The Importance of being Rajitha". The Island (Sri Lanka). 
  8. ^ a b c d Peebles, Patrick (2015). Historical Dictionary of Sri Lanka. Rowman & Littlefield. p. 319. ISBN 978-1-4422-5584-5. 
  9. ^ "“Give us our daughter back”". The Daily Mirror (Sri Lanka). 24 March 2015. 
  10. ^ "Rajitha’s Son Denies Daddy’s Rs. 5 M Bribe From Avante Garde, Says Never Spied On Harin Fernando". Colombo Telegraph. 18 November 2015. 
  11. ^ Weerarathne, Chitra (21 March 2015). "Rajitha and 13 others ordered to appear in High Court". The Island (Sri Lanka). 
  12. ^ "JVP Turns its Guns and Bombs Aganist SLMP" (PDF). Tamil Times. VIII (1): 19. December 1988. ISSN 0266-4488. 
  13. ^ Maher, Joanne, ed. (2004). The Europa World Year Book 2004: Volume II - Kazakhstan - Zimbabwe. Europa Publications. p. 3933. ISBN 1-85743-255-X. 
  14. ^ "Result of Parliamentary General Election 1989" (PDF). Department of Elections, Sri Lanka. 
  15. ^ a b de Silva, W. P. P.; Ferdinando, T. C. L. 9th Parliament of Sri Lanka (PDF). Associated Newspapers of Ceylon Limited. p. 164. 
  16. ^ a b c "Of Judges, freedom, liberty and destiny". The Sunday Times (Sri Lanka). 31 May 1998. 
  17. ^ Udayangani, Diana (14 November 2015). "Rajitha retaliating: Wijeyadasa". The Daily Mirror (Sri Lanka). 
  18. ^ a b "PA,UNP patch up quarrels". The Sunday Times (Sri Lanka). 9 April 2000. 
  19. ^ a b "Court unseats controversial opposition MP". TamilNet. 31 March 2000. 
  20. ^ Handunnetti, Dilrukshi (2 April 2000). "Will Rajitha be left without teeth?". The Sunday Times (Sri Lanka). 
  21. ^ Jansz, Frederica (23 January 2005). "MP makes big bucks off Ports Authority". The Sunday Leader. 
  22. ^ a b "General Election 2000 Preferences" (PDF). Department of Elections, Sri Lanka. [dead link]
  23. ^ a b "General Election 2001 Preferences" (PDF). Department of Elections, Sri Lanka. Archived from the original (PDF) on 2012-08-09. 
  24. ^ "New Ministers". Daily News (Sri Lanka). 13 December 2001. 
  25. ^ "Wickremesinghe appoints cabinet of 25". TamilNet. 12 December 2001. 
  26. ^ a b "General Election 2004 Preferences" (PDF). Department of Elections, Sri Lanka. [dead link]
  27. ^ "UNP dissidents, SLMC join UPFA government, appointed ministers". TamilNet. 28 January 2007. 
  28. ^ "18 jumbos cross over". Daily News (Sri Lanka). 29 January 2007. 
  29. ^ Chandani Kirinde and Chris Kamalendran (28 January 2007). "Crossover today, MoU ends". The Sunday Times. 
  30. ^ "PART I : SECTION (I) — GENERAL Appointments & c., by the President" (PDF). The Gazette of the Democratic Socialist Republic of Sri Lanka Extraordinary. 1482/08. 29 January 2007. 
  31. ^ "The New Cabinet". The Island (Sri Lanka). 29 January 2007. 
  32. ^ a b "Parliamentary General Election - 2010 Kandy Preferences" (PDF). Department of Elections, Sri Lanka. [dead link]
  33. ^ "PART I : SECTION (I) — GENERAL Appointments & c., by the President" (PDF). The Gazette of the Democratic Socialist Republic of Sri Lanka Extraordinary. 1651/3. 26 April 2010. 
  34. ^ "New Cabinet Ministers & Deputy Ministers". Daily News (Sri Lanka). 24 April 2010. 
  35. ^ "PART I : SECTION (I) — GENERAL Appointments & c., by the President" (PDF). The Gazette of the Democratic Socialist Republic of Sri Lanka Extraordinary. 1681/2. 22 November 2010. 
  36. ^ "New Faced Boost Cabinet as Hopes Rise". The Nation (Sri Lanka). 28 November 2010. 
  37. ^ Perera, Suresh (29 July 2012). "Sujatha Senaratne new Additional Secy. Health". The Island (Sri Lanka). 
  38. ^ "Maithripala named common candidate". The Nation (Sri Lanka). 21 November 2014. 
  39. ^ Dalima, Bella (21 November 2014). "I am the common candidate: Maithripala Sirisena". News First. 
  40. ^ "Chandrika, Rajitha, Arjuna, Rajeeva, M K D S and Dumindha Dissanayaka join Maithripala". Hiru News. 21 November 2014. 
  41. ^ "PART I : SECTION (I) — GENERAL Government Notifications NOTIFICATION" (PDF). The Gazette of the Democratic Socialist Republic of Sri Lanka Extraordinary. 1890/14. 26 November 2014. 
  42. ^ "SLFP rebels stripped of posts and party membership". The Nation (Sri Lanka). 21 November 2014. 
  43. ^ "Sri Lanka Presidential Election Set for January 8 Next Year". NDTV. Press Trust of India. 21 November 2014. 
  44. ^ "Maithripala and others sacked". The Daily Mirror (Sri Lanka). 21 November 2014. 
  45. ^ "PART I : SECTION (I) — GENERAL Appointments & c., by the President" (PDF). The Gazette of the Democratic Socialist Republic of Sri Lanka Extraordinary. 1897/16. 18 January 2015. 
  46. ^ "New Cabinet ministers sworn in". The Daily Mirror (Sri Lanka). 12 January 2015. 
  47. ^ "New Cabinet takes oaths". The Nation (Sri Lanka). 12 January 2015. 
  48. ^ "Video: Maithripala appointed SLFP chairman". The Daily Mirror (Sri Lanka). 16 January 2015. 
  49. ^ "President Maithripala Sirisena – New SLFP Chairman". Asian Tribune. 17 January 2015. 
  50. ^ Paranamanna, Lakna (14 February 2015). "Susil appointed as national organizer of SLFP". The Daily Mirror (Sri Lanka). 
  51. ^ "SLFP appoints new National Organiser, Treasurer and VP". adaderana.lk. 14 February 2015. 
  52. ^ Wijewardena, Don Asoka (16 March 2015). "Rajitha’s son accused of ‘abducting’ underaged girl". The Island (Sri Lanka). 
  53. ^ "“Minister Rajitha’s son abducted our underage daughter”: Parents". adaderana.lk. 15 March 2015. 
  54. ^ "Rajitha And His Son Notified To Appear Before Courts". Colombo Telegraph. 20 March 2015. 
  55. ^ "Rajitha refutes ‘abduction’ charges". The Daily Mirror (Sri Lanka). 16 March 2015. 
  56. ^ Perera, Yohan (13 July 2015). "Good Governance MoU signed". The Daily Mirror (Sri Lanka). 
  57. ^ "Disillusioned supporters of Sri Lanka President form a new front with UNP to contest parliamentary elections". Colombo Page. 11 July 2015. 
  58. ^ Rajasingham, K. T. (12 July 2015). "A Broad Holy Alliance for Good Governance – Minus Maithripala Srisena". Asian Tribune. 
  59. ^ Ariyawansha, Niranjala (29 July 2015). "MS suspends SLFP Dissidents". Ceylon Today. 
  60. ^ Santiago, Melanie (28 July 2015). "Breaking: SLFP membership of Rajitha Senaratne and four others suspended". News First. 
  61. ^ Edirisinghe, Dasun (22 January 2016). "DNM demands vacant UNP seat". The Island (Sri Lanka). 
  62. ^ Gooneratne, Lankesh (2 February 2016). "Ekanayake scotches rumours". Ceylon Today. 
  63. ^ "PART I : SECTION (I) — GENERAL Government Notifications PARLIAMENTARY ELECTIONS ACT, No. 1 OF 1981" (PDF). The Gazette of the Democratic Socialist Republic of Sri Lanka Extraordinary. 1928/03. 19 August 2015. 
  64. ^ "Ranil tops with over 500,000 votes in Colombo". The Daily Mirror (Sri Lanka). 19 August 2015. 
  65. ^ "PART I : SECTION (I) — GENERAL Appointments & c., by the President" (PDF). The Gazette of the Democratic Socialist Republic of Sri Lanka Extraordinary. 1932/07. 14 September 2015. 
  66. ^ "New Cabinet". The Daily Mirror (Sri Lanka). 4 September 2015. 
  67. ^ "The new Cabinet". Ceylon Today. 4 September 2015. 
  68. ^ "Rajitha Senaratne Suffers Heart Attack: To Be Flown To Singapore For Treatment". asianmirror.lk. 19 February 2016. 
  69. ^ "Rajitha to visit Singapore for check-up". The Daily Mirror (Sri Lanka). 19 February 2016. 
  70. ^ "Rajitha is stable, says son". The Sunday Times (Sri Lanka). 21 February 2016. 
  71. ^ Gunatilleke, Nadira (29 February 2016). ""Rajitha doing well after undergoing a bypass surgery" - Health Ministry". Daily News (Sri Lanka). 
  72. ^ "President Sirisena visits Rajitha in Singapore hospital". The Sunday Times (Sri Lanka). 28 February 2016. 
  73. ^ Panchalingam, Ariram (18 March 2016). "Health Minister Rajitha Senaratne returns". News First. 
  74. ^ Silva, Manushi (18 March 2016). "Rajitha returns from Singapore". Daily News (Sri Lanka). 
  75. ^ Jayakody, Pradeep (28 August 2015). "The Comparison of Preferential Votes in 2015 & 2010". The Daily Mirror (Sri Lanka). 

External links[edit]