This is a country which is harping on solving its ‘national question’; how to find a viable solution to the grievances of the minority Tamils. But despite this question being spoken about in the open, there is a question that seems to be addressed behind closed doors. That question is; how to unite the president and the prime minister?
The relationship between Maithripala Sirisena and Ranil Wickremesignhe was deteriorating over the past several months and reached boiling point just a few days ago.
According to reports tensions rose to the surface at a recent meeting when the President and the Premier disagreed about how to progress with the East Container Terminal of the Colombo Port. The Premier informed of his wishes to see the port being developed with India’s aid, but these views were shot down by Sirisena who affirmed that the sea port should be kept within the ambit of Sri Lanka.
These happenings leaking out to the media just prior to the Premier’s scheduled visit to India can affect the relationship between the two nations.
Sri Lanka has other reasons to worry about with regard its relations with India. Newspapers were buzzing with the news that about an alleged plot to assassinate President Sirisena. The Presidential Media Division has sent a statement denying that the president had mentioned about an involvement of an Indian Intelligent Service in this regard. In the attempts to do some damage control Sirisena has taken the initiative and got in touch with Modi. Meanwhile the Indian High Commissioner called on Sirisena to seek clarity on the matter.
It is clear that the relationship between the two nations has been healthier after the 2015 presidential elections. India values this healthy relationship and so does Sirisena and Wickremesinghe.
The Premier is hellbent on promoting his ideas to stabilise the depreciating rupee. This is why he wants India to play a huge role in the East Container Terminal of the Colombo Port, backing his thinking with the claim that the bulk of the container traffic towards the Colombo Port is originating from Sri Lanka’s closest neighbour.
India’s interests in Sri Lanka are associated with the Mattala Airport, Palaly Airport, the East Container Terminal of the Colombo Port and a Natural Gas Plant in Kerawalapitiya. Premier Wickremesinghe’s visit to India is aimed at accelerating the progress of East Container Terminal of the Colombo Port.
Both Sirisena and Wickremesinghe have treaded cautiously on the aspect of keeping ends warm with India. The duo is also aware that former President Mahinda Rajapaksa also keeps in touch with Indian Premier Narendra Modi. Given this background, the most aggressive claims about the involvement of Indian Intelligence Agency Research and Analysis Wing (RAW) in an assassination attempt in Sri Lanka are being made by the Joint Opposition; a force which is working closely with Mahinda Rajapaksa. India is quite aware of Rajapaksa’s clout in Sri Lankan politics. Any person with an iota of political knowledge knows that India has a huge interest in who wins the 2020 Presidential Elections.
This story of there being a plot to assassinate the president is being investigated in Sri Lanka and an Indian national was arrested and questioned in this regard.