The shuttle between Delhi – Colombo; what’s up ?

There is high speculation now in Delhi and Colombo as to where the two regimes, Rajapaksas and Sinhg-Sonia Gandhi, are heading on bilateral dialogue. An extremely high powered 03 member team that included President Rajapaksa’s brother Minister Basil Rajapaksa and Presidential Secretary Weeratunge visited Delhi last week to discuss matters of mutual interest. The other brother, the single minded Defense Secretary Gotabhaya Rajapaksa went over to Delhi, obviously to talk defense and security.

Right now, one of the most powerful positions in the Delhi administration, Foreign Secretary Nirupama Rao has landed in Colombo on a 04 day visit. Reasons given are assessing Indian aid for rehab and resettlement in North – East parts of SL. There is also news about Indian Defense Secretary Pradeep Kumar visiting Sri Lanka in the near future.

Meanwhile on 26 August, The Hindu reported, [quote] India has completed the hydrological survey of the Kankesanthurai port and will be sending a team to finalise the detailed project report. It is also finalising the tender documents for the modernisation of the Palaly airport.[unquote]

These details and information had provoked an e-mail received by SAS and was later followed up by another that had a few responses too. SAS thought it would be worth sharing them with its readers.

The chain is given below.


Thinking Aloud

Any link between Nirupama Rao’s visit to Colombo, Indian security talks (Gota was in Delhi too) and Rajapaksa’s quick move to extend his own terms in presidency from 2 to 3 years ? In short, has India given into Rajapaksa for its own regional interests ?

Would appreciate personal thoughts



How others think aloud

[In order of reciept]


Worth thinking this through. But madame Rao I think has just landed in SL and she is ostensibly there to assess how good the rehab and resettlement measures in the north and east are — and to audit how well Indian aid has been used. So in between, if there is any deal struck with MR and his dynasty, we will count on …. info.

Chain with SM

Is it just assessing rehab and resettlement in N-E ? Does that need the Sec to MEA to come personally ? What is the Indian HC doing here in Colombo then ?



So MR is going to ram through that constitutional amendment, you think? And is madame Rao coming over to bestow her blessings? But what happens if term limits are moved by constitutional amendment and CBK decides to contest? Does MR have that contingency



Well, CBK is a non entity in SL politics. As for India, there is no option any more in the opposition to chose from. So perhaps they will work on MR. As for MR, he is firmly saddled on power. No chance of stopping him right now. The only possibility is a major rift in the SLFP leadership. But that again needs a strong opposition with social backing, which is totally absent. That is why MR is hurrying. He knows quite well, that politics in society is not stagnant and the equation could change with time.



They have done it long ago. By the way what is India’s regional interest?

Response to M.G.D

Well, my reading is, Delhi is working on establishing a SL regime that is economically dependent on India and with MR reluctant to devolve power in any form, he would need Delhi to assist him in diluting Tamil politics. There in lies the compromise.



India is pushing a regional security co-operation program and they are going to have a dialogue with Sri Lankan authorities very soon. This is, as I was informed, not just a reaction to Chinese interests in Sri Lanka. Yet a part of a India’s national strategic plan which aims at reducing Chinese and Pakistani influence over important strategic issues. India is confident of achieving super power status by 2020. Thus this may aim at controlling the regional discourse in favour of India’s national interests.
With regard to Rajapakse’s I have no enough information even to make an assumption. Yet I know India had good hope on Ranil probably now they have given up. Hence, to accept the reality and fulfil their objectives, your proposition may have a point.


Dear Kushal,

You made the right catch! Yes. Nirupama met TN chief Karunanidhi and had discussion for 55 minutes. Few days later, Karunanidhi in a press meet at Chennai announced that Sethusamudra Shipping Project is kept in “Abeyance”. The fact is the project awaiting a clearance from the Supreme Court of India. But Karunanidhi said it has to be kept in abeyance due to opposition from “Shastras and Beliefs”. The case of strong for SSP, but he gave up. Lanka’s regional interest served. Now Basil in Delhi and clearing way for defence cooperation agreement. It may happen by the year end. It is all done (from the Indian perspective that) keeping China out of Lanka? Will that happen?


K. Ayyanathan


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