Delhi’s apathy stalls Tamil settlement in Sri Lanka | Daily News

Delhi’s apathy stalls Tamil settlement in Sri Lanka

The ‘regime change’ in Sri Lanka exactly two years ago – ouster of incumbent President Mahinda Rajapaksa and his replacement by Maithripala Sirisena (as president) and Ranil Wickremesinghe (as prime minister) – was cause celebre for Delhi, dripping with triumphalism that a ‘pro-Chinese’ government was overthrown through democratic methods. But as Sirisena celebrates two years in power, Delhi cannot but feel embarrassed.

The Economic and Technical Cooperation Agreement couldn’t be negotiated by end-2016 as expected. In fact, the negotiations brought to the fore atavistic fears in the Sri Lankan mind regarding Indian domination. As for the Sri Lankan Tamil problem, India’s retrenchment under Prime Minister Narendra Modi has seriously weakened the prospects of a permanent settlement. With Donald Trump as president, American pressure tactic also eases dramatically.

Sinhala nationalism

Rajapaksa is riding the wings of strident Sinhala nationalism and he is getting the smell of blood, given the anti-incumbency building up against the Sirisena-Wickremesinghe government under the conditions of growing popular discontent – rising cost of living, cut in social subsidies and social services and high level of unemployment. Rajapaksa cannot topple the Sirisena government due to the 19th constitutional amendment, which bars the dissolution of the parliament, even by the Sri Lankan president, until it has completed four and a half years of its full five-year term. But he can either replace Wickremesinghe 
himself or be the kingmaker who exercises power 
without holding office

The policy assumptions in Delhi that Sri Lanka could be incrementally entrapped in a ring of cultural nationalism and political bonhomie, making Colombo eventually a satellite within Indian orbit completely overlooked the mainsprings of Sinhala nationalism – culturally, historically and politically. Our Hindutva folks schooled in Chanakya and unaware of contemporary history and politics got their sums hopelessly wrong. An insightful op-Ed in The Hindu last week ended with this cry in the wilderness: For lakhs of Tamils still struggling to rebuild their lives since the island’s brutal war that ended seven years ago, the wait has been long and painful. As far as the two leaders (Sirisena and Wickremesinghe) are concerned, it is as much a question of political will as it is of ability. It is now or probably never.

Over and above, Delhi’s strategic calculus was that Sirisena would roll back Chinese influence in Sri Lanka, but, on the contrary, Beijing quickly adapted itself to the new power-brokers in Colombo and is, if anything, doing one better than during the Rajapaksa era. China is gearing up for a vast expansion in the strategic Hambantota region and Sirisena government is forcefully quelling the local population’s resistance to it. China is also drawing Sri Lanka close in security cooperation both bilaterally as well as within the ambit of the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation. And, the mother of all ironies is that it is Rajapaksa who is currently encouraging the popular resistance to the Chinese SEZ. At a press conference recently, he said:

15,000 acres is too much. We wanted to give only 750 acres. These are people’s agricultural lands.

Sirisena-Wickremesinghe government

We are not against Chinese or Indians or Americans coming here for investment. But we are against the land being given to them and the privatisation that they are doing.

Rajapaksa is riding the wings of strident Sinhala nationalism and he is getting the smell of blood, given the anti-incumbency building up against the Sirisena-Wickremesinghe government under the conditions of growing popular discontent – rising cost of living, cut in social subsidies and social services and high level of unemployment.

Rajapaksa cannot topple the Sirisena government due to the 19th constitutional amendment, which bars the dissolution of the parliament, even by the Sri Lankan president, until it has completed four and a half years of its full five-year term.

But he can either replace Wickremesinghe himself or be the kingmaker who exercises power without holding office.

The bottom line is that almost always the calculations behind ‘regime change’ agenda go awry – be it in Sri Lanka or Nepal. Delhi should understand this. A recent book on the regime change in Sri Lanka, The January 8th Revolution: As I Have Seen It, authored by a first class political turncoat and parliamentarian of the ruling party who was a camp follower of Rajapaksa but switched to Sirisena, describes how Rajapaksa was overthrown in a deep-seated political conspiracy. The focus is on Chandrika Kumaranatunga as the chief caballer, but it is not particularly difficult to make out the ‘foreign hand’ behind her – Clinton Foundation and so on.

From the Indian perspective, what stands out is the intriguing presence of the Tamil National Alliance (TNA) as Kumaranatunga’s sidekick.

Evidently, TNA leadership came under pressure from Delhi to collaborate with her, although the veteran Tamil leaders were not country bumpkins unfamiliar with cosmopolitan politics or were unaware of Sirisena’s deep roots in Sinhala nationalism and his controversial role as Rajapaksa’s right-hand man in the final bloodbath of the war against the LTTE.

At the end of the day, TNA leaders at least got a few crumbs that fell off from the high table of Colombo politics as they sold out Tamil interests. But Modi government and Hindutva folks who mentored its Sri Lanka policies got nothing.


 

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One need patriotic politicians who love the country it's people as well as the fauna flora respect the past Ned to glorify the present and future and set good example for the coming up politicians as we like rest of the humanity must work closely with each other to seek progress for one and all

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