India remains watchful, no interference | Sunday Observer

India remains watchful, no interference

4 November, 2018

India is concerned about the recent political developments in Sri Lanka and will watch the developments closely, but will not intervene, and it is for the Sri Lankans themselves to sort it out. This was the position of India as explained to a group of Sri Lankan journalists by Foreign Secretary Vijay Gokhale on Thursday (1), at the South Block in New Delhi.

According to reliable sources at the Ministry of External Affairs, the Foreign Secretary said, New Delhi was not promoting any particular person and it was for the Sri Lankans to decide whether the Prime Minister is Mahinda Rajapaksa or Ranil Wickremesinghe.

He rejected allegations that India was involved in the internal politics of Sri Lanka. Earlier in the day, addressing the Regional Connectivity Conference at Taj Place in New Delhi, Gokhale said, South Asian countries must be careful when obtaining foreign investments and warned about the danger of falling into a debt trap when acquiring huge loans and finding it difficult to repay.

The Foreign Secretary said, ‘free, open and inclusive’ should be the driving force behind regional integration. Former Prime Minister Wickremesinghe, in an interview with NDTV, urged India to intervene to solve the constitutional crisis. However, when asked about his meeting with Indian High Commissioner Taranjit Singh Sandhu to discuss the issue, the former Premier disclosed that India did not make any commitment regarding a possible intervention.

In the NDTV interview, Wickremesinghe admitted that he also held talks with the Chinese Ambassador, who said, it was an internal affair that should be solved by the Sri Lankans themselves. Wickremesinghe demanded that Parliament should be reconvened immediately. When the NDTV Interviewer said, it was reported that Parliament would be reconvened shortly, Wickremesinghe said MPs are being bought over by paying Rs 100 million to 400 million. However, he did not have an answer to the question as to who had such vast sums of money.

All the Indian media channels and newspapers described the current political developments as a major constitutional crisis.

Although India expressed concern over the political uncertainty in Sri Lanka, New Delhi refrained from further comments. The Foreign Secretary also did not refer to Prime Minister Mahinda Rajapaksa’s recent visit to New Delhi and his meetings with Prime Minister Narendra Modi and other leaders including former Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, Congress Leaders Sonia Gandhi and Rahul Gandhi.

Rajapaksa was reportedly said to have mended fences with New Delhi during that visit. Janata Party leader Dr. Subramanian Swamy who was instrumental in arranging the meeting between Rajapaksa and Prime Minister Modi, said, he would work hard to ensure friendship and cooperation between India and Sri Lanka. He added that President Maithripala Sirisena, Prime Minister Mahinda Rajapaksa and Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi are people’s leaders and they understand the pulse of the people and there is absolutely no difficulty for them to work in friendship and cooperation.

Indian officials involved in talks with Sri Lanka to upgrade the Free Trade Agreement into the proposed Comprehensive Economic Partnership Agreement and the cooperation on infrastructure development projects told this Columnist that talks are progressing well and were about to be concluded satisfactorily.

It has no bearing on the current political developments in Sri Lanka, they assured.

They also said, the massive railway reconstruction and development projects would continue under the Indian credit line satisfactorily.