LANKA UNDER RAJAPAKSAS

Sri Lanka voted for stability and installed a government led by veteran Mahinda Rajapaksa on Sunday, after the Sri Lanka People’s Front led by him won a landslide win in parliamentary polls last week. Occupying the top executive post for the fourth time, Rajapaksa will have sweeping authority to effect even Constitutional changes in view of the two-thirds majority the alliance got in Parliament. This, as also the able backing from his brother Gotabaya Rajapaksa in the post of the Island nation’s president, would mean the government will be unassailable by all means. Political stability is a pre-requisite to take the nation forward.

Mahinda Rajapaksa established his clout by decimating the LTTE separatist outfit led by Tamil provincial and militant leader Velupillai Prabhakaran during his 10-year term from 2005. The quarter of a century-old militancy, with some backing from pro-Tamil entities in Tamil Nadu as well, did no good to the people whose cause Prabhakaran and the LTTE sought to uphold. Successive governments in Sri Lanka were found wanting in facing up to the lethality of the LTTE. The security forces there had a penchant to cut and run, faced with aggressive offensives from the LTTE. Rajapaksa with able help from his brother in a senior government capacity put down the violence with a heavy hand, drawing support even from Pakistan’s battle-hardened military, and eventually eliminated Prabhakaran as also his second line of leaders.

Neither India nor Sri Lanka can allow separatist tendencies to sprout. Only weak leaderships allow such situations to worsen. Rajapaksa proved his worth and the family is now in the most commanding position, holding the post of both president and prime minister. The two have made it clear, repeatedly, that they wanted to maintain the fraternal ties with India even as they were close to the successive Chinese leaderships. China is endearing itself to Sri Lanka and extending infrastructural support as in the case of a port and extending financial support in other ways too. But Sri Lanka cannot afford to fall into the hands of the Chinese the way Pakistan has done.

The line of credit facility India recently extended to Sri Lanka is a case in point. It is true that the LTTE stood in the way of better relations between the two countries in the past. That scenario is mostly history now. This is time for both nations to explore the positives to further strengthen ties. A stable political climate in Sri Lanka should be in India’s favour as well in terms of negotiations and diplomacy.

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