Lanka crisis: India in ‘wait & watch’ mode
US Reacts, Says Democratic Institutions Must Be Respected
New Delhi: The government continues to tread cautiously on political developments in Sri Lanka despite President Maithripala Sirisena having dissolved parliament, a move seen by many as another setback to the democratic process after he sacked Prime Minsiter Ranil Wickremesinghe.
While the US was quick to react, saying that the dissolution deepened the political crisis and that democratic institutions be respected, India did not issue any official statement on Sirisena’s move. Official sources said India will wait for the situation to become clearer.
The NDA government still has reservations about Mahinda Rajapaksa, who was appointed PM “illegally’’ by Sirisena in place of Wickremesinghe, but it does not want to be seen as taking sides in what is the most serious political crisis to have hit the island nation in years. MEA spokesperson Raveesh Kumar had on Friday, before the Lankan Parliament was dissolved, expressed hope that the democratic process would be respected.
The government also believes that it may not be the right time to wade into the crisis as Wickremesinghe is likely to approach court against the dissolution and decision to go for polls in January.
According to reports from Colombo, one of the reasons for the flare up between Wickremesinghe and Sirisena was the former’s insistence on giving a contract for the construction of a container terminal at the Colombo port contract to a JapanIndia joint venture as per an MoU signed earlier by the three countries.
Wickremesinghe has admitted that there was a heated exchange between him and the President in a cabinet meeting last month. He also told Reuters that “there was a paper put forth to not give it to India, Japan.” This has again led to talks about the involvement of foreign hand, a euphemism here for China, in the ongoing political crisis and about great power rivalry. The Indian government for now though seems loath to fan that sentiment, especially at a time when ties with China are on an upswing.
SL prez Sirisena has dissolved Parliament