Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi is an expert in international relations and can also become the ideal statesman who must act aggressively when there is a need to return ‘fire for fire’.
Last week the Indian premier was in Sri Lanka and insiders say that Modi possibly baffled everyone with his energy while setting about his busy schedule.
Modi was in Sri Lanka on an invitation extended by President Sirisena; the invitation was handed when the Sri Lankan head of state attended Modi’s swearing in ceremony. And Modi’s visit happened at a time when the political scene is hotting up here with the presidential elections scheduled before the year ends. Next to the USA, China is one of the biggest monitory lenders to the Government of Sri Lanka. This puts India in a situation of unease. India however has an advantage that neither America nor China has and that is its interest it has in the Tamil community in the island.
Given the present scenario a Modi Government is beneficial to Sri Lanka. Even opposition Leader Mahinda Rajapaksa has acknowledged this fact. Rajapaksa has gone a step beyond that and said that a stable Modi Government is beneficial to Sri Lanka.
When Modi visited Sri Lanka he meticulously managed his time to meet with top level politicians like Premier Ranil Wickremesinghe, Opposition leader Rajapaksa, TNA representatives and even celebrated clergyman Malcom Cardinal Ranjith. This was apart from Modi’s top most item in the agenda which was his meeting with President Maithripala Sirisena.
Given India’s past, unlike during the Rajiv Gandhi Government, the present Indian regime is on the same page with the Government of Sri Lanka (GoSL) in the subject of eliminating terrorism. Modi has time and again stressed on both nations working together in this endeavour.
During the visit, Modi was accompanied by Sajith Premadasa as the Minister in attendance. It is reported that Modi had promised to help Sajith in his programme of building houses for the less affluent. This promise was made after Sajith informed Modi that plans were afoot to declare open ‘Sri Narendra Modi Village’ in two months time. Modi possibly knows that Sajith represents the south. Such a helping hand from India would help ease any tension that’s present between the politicians of the north and those in the south because the Indian premier has been a huge force behind the model villages that are coming up in the war-torn north of the island. The Tamil politicians in the country have failed to deliver on their promises made to this minority community. The underlying factor here is that Modi is playing the role of mediator between the Tamils in the north and the Sinhalese politicians from the south with one essential goal in mind; a peaceful Sri Lanka is beneficial to India’s presence as the dominating nation in South Asia. When Modi sets the trend and starts giving to the Tamils in the north the politicians from the south can’t do otherwise.
During the visit to Sri Lanka, Modi also met with TNA representatives at a meeting that took place at India House. It seems that newspaper reports are full of how Modi spent time with Sinhalese politicians during his visit here and carries little or nothing about what he discussed with Tamil politicians. Does this indicate that Modi has been the least impressed with the work of Tamil politicians? For the record much has been written about Tamil politicians being unable to walk the talk after the ruthless tiger rebels were crushed in 2009 and the roads were opened for development work in the north.
Apart from all this, Sri Lanka also needs to maintain a healthy working relationship with Modi. The Indian prime minister can be the total opposite of being so helpful and caring if provoked. This he showed during the 2019 Balakot Airstrike in Kashmir which annoyed Pakistan to no end. He also made American President Donald Trump gasp when he retaliated by increasing taxes on certain American imports to India after USA denied the GSP plus facility to India. Modi is ‘good’ as much as the outside world is ‘good’ towards India. In a backdrop of whats good about Modi, Sri Lanka’s knows the art of bringing the ‘best’ out in this man!