By Sulochana Ramiah Mohan
Minister of Economic Development, Basil Rajapaksa, yesterday said, “Asia has produced another Rajapaksa and ‘doer’,” referring to the overwhelming election victory of Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) Leader, Narendra Modi. “There would be better ‘chemistry’ between President Rajapaksa and Modi, compared to the rapport he had with outgoing Prime Minister Manmohan Singh,” Minister Rajapaksa said adding, “Modi delivered on his promises to Gujarat in a similar way how Mahinda Rajapaksa delivered on his promises to his people and will continue to deliver in the future,” the minister said.
He also said the Congress Party and former Prime Minister, Manmohan Singh, ‘could not do much’ for Sri Lanka due to domestic political constraints.
“However, there is hope when it comes to new Prime Minister, Narendra Modi, that everything will fall in place,” he said. Minister Rajapaksa also said his brother, the President, and himself are looking forward to meet Modi.
He added the President knows his ‘politics’ and ‘regional politics’ better than most, and explained that was the reason why he invited Modi for an official visit, even before he was announced to be the next Prime Minister of India.
“Modi is the best example for a ‘doer’ and so the people entrusted him with the leadership,” he said.
The minister also said the Indian people wanted ‘a strong leader, a strong Centre and economic development for India’.
“If you take a look at Modi’s election campaign, it was all about economy and development. That is what he delivered in his State, Gujarat.
“He gave a good leadership and was not led by external forces. He led the people and was not led by others,” the minister said.
Rajapaksa also said Sri Lanka has always been a friendly county to India, especially under the Rajapaksa Government. “We hope to continue the trend,” he added.
On the Congress defeat, Minister Rajapaksa said people chose the BJP over the Congress and ‘that’s all’. However, he added, according to his reading of the election campaigns of the Indian parties, the Congress Party mentioned development only once, whereas, for Modi it had been about economic development, growth and creating job opportunities, from the very beginning.
When questioned whether the reduced influence of Tamil Nadu political parties on the Indian Centre is a welcome sign for Sri Lanka, the minister said: “I don’t want to comment on what the Indians wanted was a strong Centre.”
Referring to Modi’s campaign speech where he promised the fisherfolk in the Ramanathapuram district of Tamil Nadu that he would do everything for their welfare and to protect them from ‘attacks by the Sri Lankan Navy and that the Centre had failed to protect them, the minister said, “We have decided to work on a long-term solution and will continue to work with India closely.”
The minister said he joins his brother, the President, in welcoming Modi to Sri Lanka. “We like to welcome anyone and we had the privilege of having former Opposition Leader of the Indian Parliament (BJP) Sushma Swaraj in Sri Lanka last year, who has now won the Vidisha seat in Madhya Pradesh by a huge margin. We even welcome Tamil Nadu Chief Minister Jayalalithaa. We don’t want to sideline anyone,” he added.
On Modi’s comment during his campaign that he will be tough on Sri Lanka, the minister said, “I read both the BJP and the Congress election manifestos and I did not see anything special on the BJP manifesto. We cannot go by words and we will have to work on it.”
The minister said, “We will wait and see.”
By Sulochana Ramiah Mohan