India’s assurance | Daily News

India’s assurance

India has put to rest any misgivings regarding the new political developments in Sri Lanka. Indian Foreign Secretary Vijay Gokhale told journalists in New Delhi that India was not promoting any particular person and that it is for the people of Sri Lanka to decide on whether the Prime Minister would be former President Mahinda Rajapaksa or former PM Ranil Wickremesinghe. He also rejected allegations that India was tampering with the internal affairs of Sri Lanka. Official spokesperson Raveesh Kumar said India will continue to extend its developmental assistance to Sri Lanka.

This is as it should be. Indo-Sri Lanka relations have always been on a high plane and constraint free, except for a few blemishes. As Non-aligned neighbours, both countries had been maintaining excellent relations. It would not be out of place to mention here that this friendly relationship was always at its peak during the times of the Bandaranaikes who strictly adhered to the Non-aligned policy. That was the time of the Cold War when countries were identified by their alliance with the two major powers the US and the Soviet Union. India, though, Non-aligned was firmly with the Soviet bloc and Lanka too with its socialist policies at the time was largely seen as tilting towards same. Thus, both India and Sri Lanka were on the same wavelength as regards their foreign policies and also their socialist domestic economic policies.

Relations started to deteriorate with the advent of the pro-west UNP Government in 1977. JRJ not only changed the socialist economic order but looked to America for economic assistance and got too close to Uncle Sam for India’s comfort. With the nascent separatist movement in the North gradually gaining momentum India’s direct involvement in the affairs Sri Lanka became known. With the election of Indira Gandhi back into office and the Eelam war commencing in earnest, the stage was set for India’s aggressive intervention. Relations had deteriorated further by the time Rajiv Gandhi became Prime Minister which saw India violating the territorial integrity of Sri Lanka via the infamous parippu drop.

Things have come a long way since then. The killing of Rajiv Gandhi by the LTTE was a turning point as Indian authorities and public opinion turned against the group. The Cold War has long ended and with the realignment of the once divided camps Indo-Sri Lanka ties have, no doubt, assumed new dimensions. Both countries now vigorously pursue the market economy and have also shed socialist ideologies. Hence, India and Sri Lanka today have found common ground on many things and the friendship is on a firm footing.

The assurance given by India that it would strictly play a neutral role in the unfolding political drama in Sri Lanka, therefore, cannot be doubted. India has demonstrated her genuineness by coming to our assistance time and again. Its support went a long way in helping us defeat terrorism. It has been one of our largest trade partners and assisted the country economically, with major investments.

Besides, there is the common thread binding the two countries since the time we were bestowed of the greatest gift of all from India- Buddhism. Cultural ties between the two countries date back eons. Hence it is time that Sri Lankan politicians from all hues stop entertaining any misconceptions about the motives of Big Brother vis-a-vis Sri Lanka.

Both President Maithripala Sirisena and Prime Minister Mahinda Rajapaksa have cultivated a solid friendship with PM Narendra Modi. It was only two months ago that Prime Minister Rajapaksa met the Indian Premier and vowed to further expand the existing good relations between both countries. PM Modi too extended his goodwill towards President Sirisena during the discussions.

Meanwhile, Mahanayake of the Asgiriya Chapter the Most Ven. Warakagoda Gnanaratane Thera has appealed to all to oppose any move by the international community to impose sanctions on Sri Lanka. He particularly urged the UNP to resist such a move, when some of its Parliamentarians called on the Chief Prelate on Sunday. “It is important for all parties, including the UNP, to oppose any such move to impose sanctions”, the Mahanayake Thera said. Lekadhikari of the Asgiriya Chapter the Ven. Medagama Dhammananda Thera said that if there is international pressure, both parties should join hands to face it.

The Mahanayake’s advice to the UNP MPs, no doubt, stems from the propensity of the Greens to wish dire consequences on the country when they lose the reins of power. This was seen in the manner in which the party called for international sanctions on the country after CBK took away some vital Ministries from Ranil Wickremesinghe’s government in 2003. Then too, there were cries for economic sanctions and even invasions. Sanctions, if imposed, would affect all the people, not just those belonging to one political party. It will also cause dire consequences to the economy. Should this be prolonged, whoever wins the Presidency in 2020 will also have to inherit the legacy. Hence, the UNP, which has governed this country at different times ought to act with a sense of responsibility at this juncture. 


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