How Felix Dias became Bandaranaike

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By 2018-01-21

By Bandula Gunaratne

In the middle of the last century there was a verdict given by a Court which created a controversy. The case was known as the 'Bentaraarachchi Case'.Bentaraarachchi who was a wealthy businessman had filed this case against Sirisena who served as one of his drivers.

It is claimed that the daughter of the businessman had been involved in an illicit love affair with the driver.
The businessman's daughter having known that both families would be opposed to their marriage, decided to elope with her fiancé.

This incident caused much consternation to the businessman as he had built up a sound reputation at the time in his area.
Afterwards he managed to summon both lovers to the Police Station. The businessman's daughter giving a statement to the Police insisted that she had decided to elope with her lover on her own volition.
However, the businessman had somehow managed to bring his daughter back home and, after a few days the businessman had gone back to the Police Station along with his daughter.

Then on that day the daughter of the businessman had told the Police that her fiancé had forcibly abducted her.
Due to this turn of events the businessman proceeded to file a case against the driver.

The verdict stated that the suspect should be given seven lashings and should be subsequently remanded.
The verdict which created much controversy was announced by Supreme Court Judge, Justice F.R. Dias.
Felix R. Dias who won the Dompe seat at the general election held in March 1960 was a son of the Judge who had given the aforementioned
verdict.

Anyhow after 30 days Parliament was dissolved. A few days after the March election C.P. de Silva who headed the Sri Lanka Freedom Party had resigned.

It was Sirimavo Bandaranaike who assumed that post following majority consent afterwards.
After that on 20 May the nominations were accepted for the election that was to be held in July.
For this election Felix R. Dias submitted nominations having added Bandaranaike to the end of his name.
Due to the massive popularity enjoyed at the time in Gampaha by the Bandaranaike's, Felix R. Dias Bandaranaike won the election by obtaining more votes than he had received earlier.

Felix Reginald Dias Bandaranaike was sworn in as the Finance Minister of the new Government on 23 July 1960.
Though he resigned from his post in 1962 he received the portfolios of Agriculture, Food and Cooperatives during the Cabinet reshuffle of 1963.

After a few months, the portfolio of Agriculture was removed from him before being given the post of Fisheries.
Felix R. Dias Bandaranaike who also won the general elections of 1965 and 1970 then became the Minister of Local Government and Home Affairs under the United Front Government.
After the resignation of the Justice Minister in 1972, that post was also given to Felix.
It was also Felix who thwarted the conspiracy to oust the Sirimavo Bandaranaike regime in 1962 before taking into custody all those behind the conspiracy.

Due to such acts Felix R. Dias Bandaranaike had become a household name in the country as well as within the Cabinet in the 1970s.

But several big shots within that regime were not in favour of the conduct or some of the decisions taken by Felix R. Dias Bandaranaike as he was victimizing political opponents.
He was also responsible for arresting the son of then Opposition Leader J.R. Jayewardene alleging that he had been behind the youth uprising of 1971.

Another incident was the arrest of Lalith Athulathmudali having levelled charges against him after he had been appointed as the UNP Organizer for Ratmalana.
Due to such crass actions Felix was nicknamed as Satan by such political figures at the time as Dr. N.M. Perera and Dr. Colvin R. De Silva.

At the 1977 general election both Sirimavo Bandaranaike regime and Felix Dias Bandaranaike were defeated.
The new J.R. Jayewardene regime which came to power, submitted a proposal to Parliament with the aim of removing civic rights of Felix.

Taking part in that debate Athulathmudali made the following comment, "A man can take revenge from another man only if he is Satan. It is why Satan was called Satan."
Following much pressure brought on him by his own party, Felix Dias was forced to quit active politics for good.

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