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Did Fonseka come to Mumbai on secret visit?

world Updated: Dec 05, 2009 00:31 IST
Sutirtho Patranobis
Sutirtho Patranobis
Hindustan Times
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Presidential hopeful general Sarath Fonseka returned to Colombo on Friday afternoon after a day visit to India apparently to open a line of communication with Indian political leaders.

Though it was learnt that he flew to Mumbai, neither he nor his political aides were willing to share any details about the visit. “He flew to Mumbai. But from Mumbai, one can go any where. He had to meet some people,’’ were the cryptic remarks of an aid.

Fonseka met the Indian High Commissioner Ashok K Kantha on Wednesday a day before he left, leading to further speculation that he had requested Kantha to make arrangements to meet a few Indian leaders.

The High Commission did not comment on Fonseka’s visit. Kantha himself was in New Delhi on Friday on a private function.

Fonseka’s visit follows former prime minister and top opposition leader, Ranil Wickeremsinghe’s visit to New Delhi in November. It is expected that another opposition delegation would visit New Delhi soon.

Since joining the race for Presidency, Fonseka has been desperately trying to shed his pro-China and pro-Pakistan image. At his maiden press conference last Sunday, he specifically fielded questions to emphasise his good relations with India. He has gone on to profess his love for Indian popular culture including Hindi movies and music.

During interactions, he has been stressing his personal military ties with India, remembering to mention the four military courses he has done in academies across India.

But India would be cautious in its approach to Fonseka known for his nationalistic Sinhala views.

Also, in October, President Mahinda Rajapaksa had alerted New Delhi about a possible Fonseka-led military coup in Sri Lanka. Fonseka later denied any such attempt, saying Rajapaksa had tarnished the army’s image by insinuating that he would carry out a coup.

‘West using Fonseka’

Sri Lankan Agriculture Development Minister Maithripala Sirisena alleged on Friday that Fonseka has now become a pawn in the hands of some western nations “conspiring” to bring “regime change” in Sri Lanka.