Ranil Wickremesinghe was elected to the Sri Lankan Parliament at the General Election of 1977 at the relatively young age of 28 years, representing the newly constituted Biyagama electorate. His ambitions of a career in the newspaper industry had been thwarted by the government take-over of Lake House (the Associated Newspapers of Ceylon Ltd.), the leading newspaper house in the island, owned by his family. The injustice of the act had propelled him into the hub of Sri Lankan politics in 1973. Since then, he had been active in grassroots United National Party politics, organizing the UNP Youth League and the National Lawyers Association as well as the Jathika Adhyapanika Sevake Sangamaya and the Jathika Sevake Sangamaya.
In the first Government headed by President J R Jayawardene, Ranil was appointed the Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs. The following year in September 1978, he was elevated to Cabinet rank by President Jayawardene, as Sri Lanka’s first Minister of Youth Affairs and Employment. He was then the youngest Cabinet Member in Sri Lanka. Nonetheless, recognising his youthful Minister’s dynamic vision, initiative and energy, President Jayawardena gave him the onerous responsibility of the Ministry of Education in 1980 in addition to the Youth Affairs portfolio.