India is keeping a close watch on the political developments in neighbouring Sri Lanka, with just 10 days left for the presidential polls where Mahinda Rajapaksa kin Gotabaya is pitched against non-controversial Sajith Premadasa for the top post.
Amid a divided polity where cross-party voting appears imminent, India wants that the new dispensation in Colombo should safeguard its strategic interests including disallowing any Chinese military assets in the island nation and submarines in its territorial waters, ET has learnt.
Rajapaksa had irked India by allowing Chinese submarines to berth in Sri Lanka, following which the matter was raised at the highest level.
Besides military assets, India has reservations about strategic installations that any outside power may create in the island nation. “While India remains sensitive to Sri Lanka’s interests and will work with any government that is voted to power, any new dispensation in Colombo should ideally safeguard India’s interests in the region,” said a person aware of the matter.
China’s strategic moves in Sri Lanka during the term of the Rajapaksa regime were closely monitored by India. Later, under the Sirisena government, India made efforts to safeguard its strategic interests.
India has also been wary of the growing terrorist network in the island nation and its linkages in Tamil Nadu and elsewhere globally given its ramifications on security in southern India, said the person. Easter Sunday bombings rocked Sri Lanka this year, killing more than 250 people and sending shockwaves across the region.
Meanwhile, hundreds of workers of Sri Lanka Freedom Party (SLFP) led by former President Chandrika Kumaratunga pledged not to support former defence secretary Gotabaya Rajapaksa in the presidential election on November 16.
Workers under the banner Organization to Protect the SLFP held a convention in Colombo even as SLFP leadership has decided to support Gotabaya. A group led by the former President signed an agreement last week to support Sajith Premadasa.
(The Economic Times)