India mum even as China virtually endorses Rajapaksa

India mum even as China virtually endorses Rajapaksa

Sri Lanka's former President Mahinda Rajapaksa (Front-L) is sworn in as the new Prime Minister before President Maithripala Sirisena in Colombo on Friday. Reuters

A cautious India is keeping a close watch on the political turmoil in Sri Lanka but has so far kept mum, even as China on Saturday virtually endorsed Mahinda Rajapaksa as the new Prime Minister of the island nation.

The US, the UK and the European Union publicly asked “all parties” in Sri Lanka to adhere to the constitution of the nation. India, however, has not issued any statement so far, even as 24 hours passed after President Maithripala Sirisena replaced Ranil Wickremesinghe with Mahinda Rajapaksa as the new Prime Minister of the country late in the evening on Friday.

Though the ruling BJP's Rajya Sabha MP Subramanian Swamy welcomed the appointment of Rajapaksa as the new Prime Minister of Sri Lanka, the government of India has not yet acknowledged the change of regime in Colombo.

New Delhi has reservations about Rajapaksa. During his erstwhile tenure as President, as he had allowed China to expand its footprints in Sri Lanka and build strategic assets in the Indian Ocean island ignoring the security interests of India. The political parties in Tamil Nadu too have reservation about Rajapaksa regime's alleged atrocities on minority Tamils in Sri Lanka during the crackdown on the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam.

Rajapaksa, however, sought to mend fences with New Delhi over the past few months. He visited New Delhi and met Prime Minister Narendra Modi last month.

New Delhi, however, on Saturday took note that Rajapaksa received the first foreign endorsement to his appointment as Prime Minister when China's ambassador to Sri Lanka, Cheng Xueyuan, called on him on Saturday.

India is treading cautiously over the issue of change of regime in Colombo lest it is accused of meddling in the internal affairs of the neighbouring country. Sources told  DH that while New Delhi had concerns over the political turmoil in Sri Lanka, it would not like to go public with a statement that could be used to whip up sentiments against India in the Indian Ocean nation.