The New Indian Express in its Editorial has sought Prime Minister Narendra Modi to urge the government under the new President of Sri Lanka Maithripala Sirisena to address the grievances of the Tamil people and find a political solution.
The Editorial states:
“The defeat of Mahinda Rajapaksa in the presidential elections in Sri Lanka bids well for the island nation. When he ordered the snap polls two months ago, press eMaithripala Sirisena shows that when the voters saw an alternative in him, they lapped him up. Rajapaksa would be ruing his decision to hold polls two years before they were due as he wanted a third consecutive term. What forced him to seek a fresh mandate was his fear that two years later, the victory he achieved in the civil war would have receded further from the memory of the voters.
In retrospect, it can be said with certainty that the people did not approve of the changes Rajapaksa had brought about in the Sri Lankan constitution. As president, he gave himself sweeping powers. Worse, he removed the cap of a maximum of two terms for anyone holding the post. He was also unable to redeem the promise of devolution of power and, thereby, win the confidence of the minorities, particularly the Tamils. The votes show that he was not able to retain the confidence of even the Sinhala majority.
While his victory may not reflect an immediate shift in foreign policy, India, which had a difficult working relationship with Rajapaksa, should find Sirisena easier to deal with.
Throughout his presidential campaign, Sirisena has maintained that his government would nurture better ties with India. Whatever be the promises he has made to those who backed his candidature, he has to deliver on his public promises that the constitution would be restored to its original glory and the presidency would be divested of overarching powers.
India had not been happy with the way Rajapaksa handled the Tamils question, particularly after the LTTE was defeated. It must now press the new Sri Lankan government to address its concerns vis-a-vis the ethnic minorities more vigorously.”