With BJP Leader Narendra Modi being elevated to the position of Prime Minister in India, a new era has dawned in Indian politics.
Narendra Modi, a leader who comes from the grassroots level, does not belong to the elitist circle of Indian politicians. He very much represents the ‘common man’ of India who forms the large majority of the country’s population. He did not have a powerful family behind him nor did he cash in on any sort of dynasty or lineage. He began his political career as a young activist and travelled the hard path in politics over decades. Being elevated to the helm of the world’s largest democracy is undoubtedly the culmination of his long and arduous political career.
Any regime change in India makes a great impact on the political stratosphere of Sri Lanka as the two countries share deep-rooted bilateral ties and strategic partnerships. From a geopolitical perspective, Sri Lanka has to closely monitor the developments in India as it would pave the way for a better understanding between the two nations. The present UPFA government whose foreign policy has already plunged Sri Lanka into deep diplomatic chaos – mishandled bilateral relations with the government of India over the past few years and as a result, the Congress led UPA government was compelled to make certain moves against Sri Lanka on several occasions.
Unfortunately, the biggest obstacle that stands in our way is the Rajapaksa government’s inability to understand the term “credibility”!
Let bygones be bygones! The India election, however, teaches us many important lessons. The most important lesson is the strength of democratic establishments of our neighbouring country. Electoral fair-play was ensured from the beginning of the election and the Congress Party - which ruled India for so many years – relinquished the power gracefully allowing the new government to establish its authority. The entire process underscored the notion that the “people’s power” stands above all factors in politics and the “people” should be the ultimate judges of rulers. The election and subsequent regime change also gave a strong message to the world that authoritarianism was not a tool for any government to retain power and stay in power forever. Even in a highly diverse society such as in India, democracy was the perfect formula to execute the people’s will.
At this juncture, I would also like to point out another important factor that Sri Lanka should take note of. That is the importance of ‘Jayalalithaa factor’ where the future of Indian politics is concerned. The AIADMK party led by Jayalalithaa has won 37 seats out of 39 seats in Tamil Nadu, becoming the third largest party in India’s Lokh Sabha after the BJP and the Congress. Although Narendra Modi does not need to seek Jayalalithaa’s support to form a government, one should not belittle the influence she wields not only in the State of Tamil Nadu, but also in the national politics of India. Any Indian government – be it BJP or Congress – is not in a position to disregard the opinion of a political party that has won 37 seats out of 39 seats in Tamil Nadu.
On the other hand, there are hardcore Tamil politicians such as Vaiko and Ramdos, who have turned themselves into allies of Modi’s government. During the election campaign, Vaiko and Ramdos made several serious statements about Sri Lanka and the plight of the country’s Tamils. Although it is still too early to say whether politicians such as Vaiko and Ramdos will be instrumental in the policy making of the new government, their presence will certainly make an impact on its approach towards Sri Lanka.
Any regime change in India makes a great impact on the political stratosphere of Sri Lanka as the two countries share deep-rooted bilateral ties and strategic partnerships
In terms of finding a lasting solution to the Tamil issue, Sri Lanka is not in a position to leave India out of the equation as the Indian government too is an important stakeholder of the problem. Any political solution formulated by the government with or without the assistance of the Parliam entary Select Committee should be an acceptable one to India as well – simply because Sri Lanka relies heavily on India’s support particularly in the international domain. On the other hand, India was heavily involved in the introduction of 13th Amen dment to the Sri Lankan Constitution and any significant change concerning the Provincial Councils in Sri Lanka is of great relevance to India and its politics. Let us not forget that the Sri Lankan government and its President Mahinda Rajapaksa, have given various assurances to India from time to time, over the full implementation of the 13th Amendment. Such promises have now disappeared into thin air!
Be that as it may, the Sri Lankan government should have a clear strategy to draw on the support of India as Narendra Modi’s victory has created a great opportunity for us to “repair” bilateral relations with New Delhi. Mere congratulatory messages or a telephone call will not be enough to develop a good equation with the newly formed BJP government. It requires a realistic policy and a solid action plan that would give Sri Lanka credibility in the eyes of the Indian government. Unfortunately, the biggest obstacle that stands in our way is the Rajapaksa government’s inability to understand the term “credibility”!