What did Mahinda Rajapaksa discuss with Indian PM Narendra Modi?
May 12, 2017 01:03 pm
A hastily arranged meeting between visiting Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Sri Lanka’s former President Mahinda Rajapaksa last evening (11 May) raised huge speculation within political circles in Colombo.
This was more since official from both sides had continued to maintain that Narendra Modi’s visit to Colombo had no economic or political objectives.
In the words of Taranjit Singh Sandhu, Indian High Commissioner to Sri Lanka, “There are no economic or political objectives in the Indian Prime Minister’s visit to Sri Lanka.” This is what he said when he met a few senior journalists in Colombo at a hotel prior to the Indian Prime Minister’s visit.
This had also been repeated by Indian authorities long before Premier Narendra Modi’s visit.
However, Members of parliament from the Joint Opposition had gone to town while claiming that the Indian Prime Minister’s visit was to sign several agreements, contrary to the claims of the Sri Lankan government.
Furthermore, MPs like Jathika Nidahas peramuna leader Wimal Weerawansa, a close confidant of former President Mahinda Rajapaksa, had urged that Sri Lankans should protest against Modi’s visit and that they should hoist black flags to display their opposition.
Weerawansa who is a close ally of the Rajapaksa camp coming out with a statement of this nature raised several questions among many, since Weerawansa may have given voice to the intentions of former President Mahinda Rajapaksa.
With speculation thus doing the rounds, the former President was soon to clarify the statement made by Weerawansa, saying that it was not in protest of Modi. However, former President Rajapaksa also said that he would only attend the international Vesak day celebrations as it is an international event and that however he was against any kind of pacts with India that could sell the assets of the country to that country.
Meanwhile, India too confirmed that Premier Modi would make this visit purely a religious one and that he would not meet any political figures.
However, the Indian High Commission said, if at all, Modi may meet only Opposition and Tail National Alliance leader R. Sampanthan, apart from meeting President Maithripala Sirisena.
However, Ada Derana surprisingly learned last evening that former President Mahinda Rajapaksa was to meet Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi at ‘India House’, the High Commissioner’s official residence in Colombo.
Ada Derana attempted to confirm this report, it proved unsuccessful, until Indian High Commissioner Taranjit Singh Sandhu disclosed such a meeting while speaking at a media briefing late last night at the Hotel Taj Samudra at around 11.45 pm.
In his brief statement to the media, Taranjit Singh Sandhu stated that Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi received former President Mahinda Rajapaksa at his own request.
Ada Derana learned that this meeting at ‘India House’ had lasted over one hour.
This prolonged meeting at ‘India House’ did delay the news conference arranged for at 10.45 pm by over one hour, and it started at 11.45 pm instead.
Meanwhile, Ada Derana also learned that former Defence Secretary Gotabaya Rajapaksa and former foreign minister Prof. G.L. Peiris were also in the delegation that met the Indian Premier along with former President Rajapaksa.
From the Indian side, Ada Derana learns that Indian national Security Advisor Ajit Doval too had been present at this meeting along with Indian High Commissioner Taranjit Singh Sandhu.
When Ada Derana requested for more details, the Indian High Commissioner added that they had discussed further development ties of both countries.
Meanwhile, Ada Derana learned from sources that former President Mahinda Rajapaksa had been appreciative of Indian assisted development projects in Sri Lanka.
As these new developments unfolded within the political arena, the person who was mainly critical of Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s visit to Sri Lanka, JNP leader Wimal Weerawansa was not available for comment when Ada Derana tried to obtain his reactions regarding the former President’s meeting with the Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi.