Colombo, February 15 (newsin.asia): India and the US, two members of the “international community” which are directly interested in, and affected by, the political situation in Sri Lanka, have reportedly expressed concern about the growing conflict between Sri Lanka’s governmental alliance partners – the Sri Lanka Freedom Party (SLFP) led by President Maithripala Sirisena, and the United National Party (UNP) led by Prime Minster Ranil Wickremesinghe.
The High Commissioner of India, Taranjit Singh Sandhu and the US Ambassador Atul Keshap, had met President Sirisena and Prime Minister Wickremesinghe separately.
The Indian envoy said that bilateral matters and “issues of mutual interest” were discussed. Although no details were given, “issues of mutual interest” is being interpreted in political circles here as “concern over the stability of the regime” which appears to be seriously threatened due to mutual recrimination over the crushing defeat the two governmental parties had suffered at the hands of the Sri Lanka Podujana Peramuna (SLPP) led by former President Mahinda Rajapaksa in the local bodies elections held on February 10.
According to political observers, India is worried that continued political instability and uncertainty as to which party will form a government and who will be its leader, will jeopardize decision making on the project-proposals it had submitted in April 2017.
India is also concerned that the process of drafting a new constitution to give more powers to the Tamil-speaking provinces thereby bringing about ethnic reconciliation will grind to a halt if the current political uncertainty continues .
India has been pressing for devolution of power to the Tamil speaking provinces since the July 1987 India-Sri Lanka Accord.
Further, India and the US would like the SLFP-UNP government to continue till the next parliamentary elections in August 2020 as per schedule, not only because this will ensure stability and predictability, but also because the coalition government is friendly to the Western powers and India.
India had had difficulties with former President Mahinda Rajapaksa because he failed to deliver on his promise to devolve power to the Tamil-speaking provinces in return for the help given to fight the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE). Rajapaksa had also switched to China by giving them strategically important development projects, keeping regional power India at bay.
The US clashed with Rajapaksa on the forceful way he conducted the war and the way Rajapaksa swung to the Chinese side allowing the Chinese to construct harbors in Hambantota and Colombo.
However, India would work with a Rajapaksa-supported or backed regime if and when it is established. Despite reservations, India had had fruitful cooperation with Rajapaksa’s nine year rule. India helped Rajapaksa finish the LTTE. And after the war, it successfully completed railway projects worth US$ 800 million and a housing project in the war torn Northern Province worth US$ 270 million.
India fell out with Rajapaksa only on the issue of devolution of power and the quarter he was giving to China jeopardizing India’s security and status as numero uno in the South Asian and Indian Ocean region.
(The featured image at the top shows the Indian envoy Taranjit Singh Sandhu, the British envoy James Dauris and the US envoy Atul Keshap)