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Modi resets the clock to 13A, (when) will it start

ticking in Sri Lanka?
May 31, 2014, 12:00 pm
Minister
Nimal Siripala de Silva has been in politics long enough to kno that a!ter 1"#3, the internal
and the e$ternal in Sri %anka have become ine$tricable& '! anyone is inter!ering in Sri %anka(s
internal a!!airs, it is because the Sri %ankan government has e$ternali)ed its internal a!!airs& 't
ill not be nice !or 'ndia to say it, but any Sri %ankan politician ith a head on his shoulders
must kno that 'ndia does not need Sri %anka(s co*operation on anything but it is Sri %anka
ho needs 'ndia(s co*operation to address its on internal as ell as e$ternal a!!airs& +he
choice !or the Sri %ankan government is to either co*operate ith 'ndia on 13, to mitigate the
-est(s insistence on ar crimes investigation, or alienate 'ndia and !urther aggravate the
island(s internal and e$ternal circumstances&
by .a/an 0hilips
'! there as disappointment in Sri %ankan +amil political circles a!ter Narendra Modi(s
ma/ority victory in the %ok Sabha elections, there must have been disappointment in
government circles a!ter Modi(s searing in and his brie! meeting ith 0resident .a/apaksa,
hen 0rime Minister Modi reset the 'ndo*%anka clock back to 13,& 1oever, a!ter returning to
2olombo, 0resident .a/apaksa seems to have directed senior 3S%405 Minister Nimal Siripala
de Silva to let it be knon that only the proverbial 0arliamentary Select 2ommittee could
decide on the !uture o! the +hirteenth ,mendment& -hile the ne 'ndian 0rime Minister
suggested to 0resident .a/apaksa that an early and !ull implementation o! the +hirteenth
,mendment and even going beyond it ill !acilitate the national reconciliation process,
Minister de Silva has reminded the media in 2olombo that 6the government ould co*operate
alays ith 'ndia, but no one should inter!ere in the internal a!!airs o! the country&6 -hy did
not the 0resident himsel! straighten 0rime Minister Modi on the matter hile the latter is still
ne to the !ile on Sri %anka7
.ather than having his Minister o!!er a history lesson in 2olombo, 0resident .a/apaksa could
have told the ne 890 0rime Minister that the +hirteenth ,mendment as !orced on a eak Sri
%ankan 0resident 39&.& 9ayeardene, a mostly secular urban elite5 by the retched 2ongress
0arty o! 'ndia, and that it is no up to the to o! them, as ,sia(s ne strongmen doers 3' am
paraphrasing 8asil .a/apaksa(s comparative e$hilaration5, to thro 13, into the same dustbin
here the 2ongress has been dumped, and rerite a ne relationship beteen Modi(s 'ndia and
Mahinda(s %anka& +he same ay, the 2hinese are e$pecting Modi to rerite Sino*'ndian
relationship no that the moribund 2ongress is !inally out o! the ay& -hile at it, they could
also put +amil Nadu in its place and in its corner& -hy not7
1ere is hy& 0resident .a/apksa(s style o! governing is saying di!!erent things to di!!erent
people, and letting his Ministers say even more di!!erent things to even more di!!erent people&
May be the ministerial musings in 2olombo ere intended not !or 'ndian ears but the :04,
government(s small sidekicks like the N44, the 91:, and no even the M;0, ho are getting
hot under the collar and are hollering out multi*point demands directly at the sel!*beleaguered
0resident& Modi could ignore +amil Nadu(s misplaced protests and invite .a/apaksa to <elhi
!or a ne beginning, but 0resident .a/apaksa is too ensnared in his on little alliances to tell
them minions here to bu)) o!! * i&e&, political ilderness ithout S%40 support& '! the Modi
mantra is ma$imum governance ith minimum government, the .a/apaksa style is minimum
governance ith ma$imum government plus, plus&
0rime Minister Modi(s resetting the clock to 13, sends a message not only to the .a/apaksa
government, but also to those in +amil politics ho cannot give up on their matinee dreaming
and have been investing their dreams on a +amil Nadu government contesting /ust 3" out o!
=43 %ok Sabha seats in 'ndia to someho roughhe the Sri %ankan political landscape& +hey
too can ake up !rom their matinee madness and smell the evening tea, /ust as the Sri %ankan
government must reali)e that it cannot engage <elhi ithout talking 13,& Minister Nimal
Siripala de Silva has been in politics long enough to kno that a!ter 1"#3, the internal and the
e$ternal in Sri %anka have become ine$tricable& '! anyone is inter!ering in Sri %anka(s internal
a!!airs, it is because the Sri %ankan government has e$ternali)ed its internal a!!airs& 't ill not
be nice !or 'ndia to say it, but any Sri %ankan politician ith a head on his shoulders must
kno that 'ndia does not need Sri %anka(s co*operation on anything but it is Sri %anka ho
needs 'ndia(s co*operation to address its on internal as ell as e$ternal a!!airs& +he choice !or
the Sri %ankan government is to either co*operate ith 'ndia on 13, to mitigate the -est(s
insistence on ar crimes investigation, or alienate 'ndia and !urther aggravate the island(s
internal and e$ternal circumstances&
Same 13, policy but
di!!erent players
Modi(s resetting the clock indicates continuity in policy but discontinuity in method& 2ontrary
to any !anci!ul notion that Sri %ankan government circles may have entertained that the ne
890 0rime Minister ould dump 13, as unanted 2ongress legacy, Mr& Modi has a!!irmed
that his ne government ill stand by 'ndia(s current policy on Sri %anka as de!ined by the
+hirteenth ,mendment& -hat ill change is the method o! operationali)ing it& 'n contrast to
Manmohan Singh(s hands*o!!, laid back, disengaged and not*!olloing*through approach,
Modi(s mode o! governance ill be hands*on, !ocused, !ully engaged and !ull o! !ollo*
throughs& Sri %anka is not going to be a daily priority !or the 'ndian 0rime Minister, but it ill
not be relegated to the back burner ith the !ire put o!!& +he priority ould be set by 'ndia(s
ne 4oreign Minister, the diminutive Sushma Sara/ ith impressive political and e$periential
credentials& She is also >uite !amiliar ith the Sri %ankan !ile having led an all*party
parliamentary delegation to the island in ,pril 2012, hen she as 890(s %eader o! the
?pposition in the %ok Sabha&
Mrs& Sara/ is one o! the high pro!ile stalarts in the Modi cabinet, a number o! hom
including Modi, Sara/, 1ome ,!!airs Minister .a/nath Singh, and 4inance and <e!ense
Minister ,run 9aitley, cut their political teeth in their mid*tenties in the protest movement
against 'ndira @andhi(s 1"A= ;mergency .ule& %ike many others in the ne government, Mrs&
Sara/ has her on .SS roots, groing up as the daughter o! an .SS member& She has been a
Supreme 2ourt ,dvocate and she is married to one& 1er political trace has >uite a !e !irst*
oman milestones B 2hie! Minister o! 1aryana, 2hie! Minister o! <elhi, Minister in !ormer
890 governments, and %eader o! the ?pposition in the last parliament& ,ny South ,sian le!tist
or progressive ill cringe at lauding someone ith .SS roots, and ' do& 8ut ob/ectively, one
has to concede that Modi and his band o! .SS cadres have arrived at the pinnacle o! 'ndia(s
national politics motivated and determined to prove that they can do better than the grand old
2ongress 0arty& +he .a/apaksa government should beare that part o! that motivation and
determination ill rub o!! on <elhi(s dealings ith 2olombo& 'n Sushma Sara/, @&%& 0eiris
ill have a !ormidable counterpart& Mrs& Sara/ is also reputed to have been one o! the
dissenting voices in the 890 during Modi(s ascent as the 0arty(s 0rime Ministerial candidate,
and it is an indication o! the respect she commands that Modi has magnanimously rearded her
ith one o! the three 3or !our5 key port!olios&
+he Sri %ankan government should also not make the mistake o! misreading +amil Nadu(s
relationship ith the ne Modi government& +amil Nadu is an industrial poer house in the
'ndian economy and the State has maintained its economic strength independent o! the
corruption and antics o! both the <MC and ,,<MC governments& 8ut the e$traordinary
electoral success o! the ,,<MC in the %ok Sabha elections signal some ne developments in
+amil Nadu politics, although it ould be childish to compare the victory o! 9ayalalitha(s
,,<MC in +amil Nadu and the success o! Modi(s 890 at the national level& +he breakdon o!
alliances in +amil Nadu split the opposition votes in every riding enabling the ,,<MC
candidates to in easily& Det, in most o! the electorates the ,,<MC obtained huge ma/orities
indicating the overall satis!action o! the electorate ith the State(s economy and its incumbent
government& .egional caste concentrations that have been a !actor in previous elections ere
smashed by the ,,<MC ave in this election& 9ayalalitha has had a !riendly relationship ith
Modi in the past and that is on schedule to be re*established at their !irst post*election meeting
on 9une 3, in Ne <elhi& She has in the past !lirted ith Modi(s and 890(s anti*conversion
1induthva ideology, and it is >uite possible that she stayed aay !rom a %e!t*!ront alliance to
keep her options open to deal ith a 890 government& 4or much o! the campaign, 9ayalalitha
did not attack Modi or the 890, and it as only toards the end she took them on because o!
the !ear that she ould lose minority votes i! as seen as being so!t on Modi and the 890&
+he 9une 3 meeting beteen Modi and 9ayalalitha is billed to be on economic issues and
centre*state !inances& ,pparently, she is trying restart ith Modi hat she started ith
Manmohan Singh three years ago and ent nohere& Modi and 9ayalalitha ill need each other
politically and to hat e$tent the Sri %ankan +amil >uestion ill !igure in their poos is
anybody(s guess !or no& 1oever, it ill not be prudent !or the Sri %ankan government to
assume that 9ayalalitha ill not have any in!luence on Modi(s Sri %ankan policy, and it ill be
e>ually !ar!etched !or +amil matinee dreamers to see in 9ayalalitha(s electoral success a
vindication o! their daydreams&