Sri Lankan government Ministers have welcomed the appointment of Sushma Swaraj as India’s External Affairs Minister.
Swaraj had called upon the Lankan government to implement the recommendations of the Lessons Learnt and Reconciliation Commission (LLRC); go beyond the 13 Amendment in devolving power to the provinces; and remove the army from civilian duties in Tamil areas in April 2012. To date none had been done by the Sri Lankan government and the Tamils who had been cheated by sucesive governments believe that they will never do it.
Sri Lanka’s Deputy Minister of External Affairs, Neomal Perera, said that having interacted with Swaraj when she came to Sri Lanka in April 2012 as head of an all-party parliamentary delegation, he could say that she has a “vast knowledge” of international relations and will do a “fantastic job” as Foreign Minister. “She has both character and charisma and will bring credit not only to India, but to the South Asian region as a whole,” Perera said.
Sri Lanka would no longer be able to mislead India under Prime Minister-designate Narendra Modi like it had done with the previous Congress-led UPA government, the country’s main opposition party has said. Tissa Attanayake, the general secretary of the United National Party (UNP) told a gathering in the central district of Kandy on Saturday that the era of duping India had ended with BJP leader Modi’s victory. “Sri Lanka had incredibly misled Dr Manmohan Singh’s government. It has now ended. Mr Modi is a forceful leader who has built his own power base,” Attanayake said.
Venerable Athuraliye Rathana Thero of the Jathika Hela Urumaya, a Buddhist-nationalistic party which opposes the implementation of the 13th amendment, said Swaraj had built “good relations” with his government leaders during her visit to Lanka in 2012. The racist party was pleased that she could be fooled like other Indian leaders.
R. Sampanthan, leader of Tamil National Alliance (TNA). said that Swaraj is “adequately equipped” to handle the portfolio. However, the TNA, has had a grouse against Swaraj. She had asked them to participate in the Sri Lanka’s Parliamentary Select Committee (PSC) on finding a political solution to the Tamil question, even after it was explained to her that the exercise was a step by the Mahinda government to ‘buy time to fool the Tamils and the world leaders’ and the PSC was full of Racist politicians. Mahinda had deliberately included more racists Ministers who opposed the 13th amendment. She was explained that previous committees findings for a acceptable political package had been wiped under the carpet by the current government.
Rauff Hakeem, leader of Sri Lanka Muslim Congress (SLMC) and Justice Minister, described the appointment as a “source of optimism”, and said: “Swaraj has hands-on experience as regards Lanka. She will play a positive role in India-Lanka relations.”
R Yogarajan, United National Party (UNP) MP, described Swaraj’s appointment as a “great thing” and said that under her, the Foreign Ministry would stand firm on India’s policy on the ethnic question in Lanka. “When she met Lankan MPs in parliament in 2012, the ruling party’s spokesman Nimal Sripala de Silva could not stand up to her contentions,” Yogarajan recalled.