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Death of Shelton Ranaraja

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Former Deputy Minister of Justice Shelton Ranaraja lost his battle to cancer today, 11 August, 2011. He died early today surrounded by his family.

He is survived by his wife, former Mayor of Kandy, Chandra Ranaraja and five daughters.

Ranaraja, an old boy of S. Thomas’ College, Mount Lavinia, was a keen sportsman. He has won college colours for boxing, swimming and cricket and latterly concentrated on some golf and lengthy walks around the Kandy Lake.

In 1960, Ranaraja contested the Senkadagala seat in the Kandy District on the SLFP ticket and won by a mere 25 votes. A subsequent election petition and a recount saw Ranaraja’s votes increase to 30! His outspokenness and uprightness as a parliamentarian was not conducive to being a ‘yes man’ in the party and his veto against the press takeover by the government caused his expulsion from the party. Soon after, the government was defeated and Parliament was dissolved.

He gave up politics for a while and concentrated on his legal career.

In 1973 J.R. Jayewardene, the leader of the United National Party, invited Ranaraja to organise Senkadagala on the UNP ticket. He did and won by a majority defeating Anuruddha Ratwatte. He was then appointed Deputy Minister of Justice from 1977.

In 1988, Ranaraja came under fire again for his principles.

He disagreed on the political implications of the Welikada Prison riots and the repercussions of the Northeast conflict.

 He resigned from his post as Deputy Minister of Justice and continued with his law career.

Shelton Ranaraja’s remains will be laid to rest on Saturday, 13 August at the Mahiyaawa cemetery.

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