India regains bargaining power on SL

The Indian troika comprising National Security Advisor Menon, Indian foreign Secretary Nirupama Rao and Defence  Secretary, Pradeep Kumar reckoned as India’s policy making body are due to arrive in SL shortly. The Indian troika came to SL on an earlier occasion when the war was just about to be concluded. On that occasion, only Menon of the present delegation came with that troika. Menon was the Foreign Secretary at that time, while security advisor Narayanan wielded most power in the troika. He had a thorough knowledge not only of the SL war but also of Prabhakaran. After relinquishing his post as security advisor he is now made a Governor. Some say, he was obliged to resign his security advisor post in the wake of the terrorist attack that was launched on Mumbai, India. Speculations were rife then, that he was pressurized by the Congress Govt. to tender his resignation accepting responsibility for the inefficiency and inadequacies in the security divisions. Some charge him of trying to steer the Indian policies pertaining to the SL war according to his unilateral fancies whereby the Indian Govt. lost its grip and leverage over SL to accomplish a political solution for the SL Tamils. Specially, he lost focus on the China’s ramifications into SL during  the process of providing aid to SL Govt. blindly to destroy the Tamil Tigers and Prabhakaran.

In any event, before the arrival of the Indian troika in the Island, the SL Govt. has sent a warm message to India – the Cabinet approved the handing over of the Kankesanturai harbour development to India which was long overdue, and for which the Indian Govt. had been making consistent  requests for a long time.

With the release of the UN panel report in SL, the Govt. began seeking India’s support. In India’s ‘shopping list’ it was this project which occupied the top slot prior to the approval, which the SL Govt. had to now necessarily give the green light. The next in priority in the ‘shopping list’ was the Sampur project which was languishing in the Attorney General’s Dept. Sources within the Govt. say, that too will receive approval. CEPA is the project next down the list. However, it is surmised that just because the approvals were given to these projects, it does not mean that India will be able to support SL Govt. to defeat the UN panel report that easily. As the SL political parties are uniting against the panel report so have  the political parties in India begun to unite against Mahinda Rajapaksa by insisting that a trial shall be conducted against him on the war crimes. Already, the main political party Bharathiya Janatha party, the Communist party, Tamil Nadu  Chief Minister Karunanidhi and his Alliance party, the Tamil Nadu opposition leader Jayalalitha have expressed support for the panel report while various other parties in Tamil Nadu have also staged demonstrations  supporting it .Every party and civil Organization in India vociferously clamor that the Indian Congress Govt. ought to support the international investigation into SL war crimes.  Hence,in this climate it renders it impossible for India to support  SL Govt. against the stand taken by America and European countries . This is precisely why India is now seeking the political solution for the Tamil people via the SL Govt. It is India’s fervent hope that if it succeeds in securing the 13 plus solution, it can please the parties in India as well as America and European countries. The SL Govt. was aware that India had already read the panel report before its release. The SL Govt. is also of the conviction that Nambiar, the Chief of staff of Ban Ki-moon had read this and may have apprised India of the facts contained therein. The Tamil Diaspora too is of the opinion that India during the final phase of the SL war used Nambiar to avert the ceasefire proposal through the UN.

The panel report was completed as far back as 31st of March. It is the view of some that there was a delay to hand over the report to the SL Govt. and its announcement   by Moon because of pressures exerted on him by India through Nambiar to postpone this release until the Indian Tamil Nadu State elections were over. Perhaps the Congress Govt. would have entertained the apprehension that in case the report is put out in the middle of the Tamil Nadu state elections, the Tamil Tiger sympathizers would exploit the report against Karunanidhi and the Congress govt.  If the question raised by Jayalalitha today,  whether the Congress Govt. was in a deep slumber until the war was over it was asked by her during the elections,  the Congress Govt. would have been subject to grave embarrassment. Some sources say,  now,  it is India’s plan to block the panel report from being brought before the UN Human Rights Commission (UNHRC)  during the May –June sessions,  and have it postponed  until September,  in which event,  India will have sufficient time to complete its ‘shopping list’ requirements while also pressurize the SL Govt. to grant the political solution for the Tamil people.

The biggest challenge facing India right now is convincing America and European countries, Int. Human Rights Organization and the Tamil Diaspora with a view to accomplishing its objectives. It is well to recall that India used Prabhakaran and the Tamil armed groups to kindle the SL war in order to serve and secure its needs: it made SL to sign the Indo – Lanka pact and took the Trincomalee harbour under its control. After the war was concluded, India thought that it has lost its trump – the bargaining power. On the contrary, today India through the panel report has clinched a greater bargaining power than before. Meanwhile Mahinda nurses the notion that India is possessed by the fear that if it offends SL Govt. it can push the latter into the fold and open embrace of China, and at the same time it is also frightened of antagonizing America and the European countries by aligning with SL. The SL Govt. may be handling India’s pressure viz a viz the precarious and perilous situation India is driven into.

Leave a Reply