India hopes that the “inclusive political process” for the Tamil population will be put on fast track, with Mahinda Rajapaksa’s re-election as president of Sri Lanka on Wednesday.
In her message to congratulate Rajapaksa, President Pratibha Patil said, “I am confident that under your continued leadership, Sri Lanka will attain greater heights and find lasting peace.”
New Delhi enjoys a good working relation with Rajapaksa. But the voting pattern in the Lankan polls could mean added pressure on India.
Rajapaksa’s rival in the presidential race, Sarath Fonseka, won about 90 per cent of the votes among the Tamil and Muslim electorate. If Rajapaksa tends to look the other way — buoyed by the overwhelming Sinhala votes — the Tamils will look at India to guarantee their political rights in Lanka.
“It has been our consistent stand that devolution and reconciliation hold the key to lasting peace in Sri Lanka. We are hoping that this process will be taken to its logical conclusion,” a government official said.
Fonseka’s victory would not have made much difference to India, but Rajapaksa’s win helps in keeping the continuity.
“He is known to us. And we worked together, and that’s a plus point,” pointed out an official.
But the moot question remains-how far and fast can Rajapaksa deliver on the promise of devolution of power that will address the issue of political inclusion of the Tamils.
“The devolution of power should be seen as a parallel D along with the other Ds-development and demilitarization that Rajapaksa talked about,” Rajendra Abhyankar, a former secretary in the ministry of external affairs told HT.
India is hoping that the resettlement of internally displaced persons, for which it has already pledged Rs 500 crore, will also begin.