By Latheef Farook –
Chief Minister of India’s Tripura State, Biplab Deb, sparked off a controversy over the weekend when he revealed that Indian Home Affairs Minister Amit Shah intended to establish Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) Governments in Sri Lanka and Nepal.
Chief Minister Kumar, addressing a political rally recently, claimed Home Affairs Minister Shah intends forming a BJP Government in Sri Lanka, to create an ‘Atmanirbhar South Asia’.
Under fire over Deb’s comment, the BJP said it has been spreading Indian culture and philosophy in different countries.
BJP spokesperson Nabendu Bhattacharya said, “Our work to spread our Indian culture and philosophy in different countries apart from India started many days back. Contesting elections is not our prime agenda. We focus on winning the hearts of people of different countries.”
Meanwhile, Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi, on 14 February, commented about his visit to Jaffna and his pride in creating history as the first Indian Prime Minister to have made that trip.
Modi highlighted his Government’s intentions in enriching the Tamil community through various infrastructure projects which have already improved the housing, health, and transportation facilities of the district. He again reiterated that Tamils of Sri Lanka will not be left alone and India will always push Sri Lanka to fulfill demands of Tamils.
Expanding the BJP’s footprint and establishing its rule in Sri Lanka would be a bad influence, said Samagi Jana Balawegaya (SJB) National Organiser and Parliamentarian Tissa Attanayake.
Attanayake noted that no one could interfere in the internal affairs of another state by force, adding that it shows the possibility of a threat.“If the BJP or any party tries to get involved in the internal politics of Sri Lanka, it would relate to racism or other issues where our party does not agree,” Attanayake noted.
“Allowing such influence can affect Sri Lanka’s democracy. We need co-operation between parties, but it does not mean that a country or a party should interfere in the internal matters of a country and in this regard, we have a fair suspicion that the BJP movement can also be a threat,” Attanayake further added.
The Government of Sri Lanka has announced that it will not be politically engaging with the issue of India’s ruling political party, the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), announcing plans to form governments in neighboring countries including Sri Lanka. However, Nepal has officially taken up the issue with India.
The BJP advocated hindutva (“Hindu-ness”), a violently anti Muslim ideology that sought to wipeout Islam and Muslims and define Indian culture in terms of Hindutva values. It was highly critical of the secular policies and practices of the Indian National Congress (Congress Party). The BJP began to have electoral success in 1989, when it capitalized on anti-Muslim violence when it called for the erection of a Hindu temple in Ayodhya in the very same premjse where 15th century Babri Masjid was located.
Indian Interference in Sri Lanka
Indian interference in Sri Lanka’s internal affairs is well known. In later 1980s and June 1987, Indian Air force dropped food, water, and weapons as the direct support towards rebels. India directly helped the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE). The LTTE fought to create an independent Tamil state in the north and the east of the Island.
Later on, India tried to block Chinese and Pakistani military hardware exports to Sri-Lanka. Pakistan was on the brink of finalizing the sale of JF-17 thunder Fighter aircraft to Sri Lankan air force but India’s counter offer of Light Combat Air Crafts Tejas became a hindrance in the Pak-Lanka defense deal.
Sri Lankan president Sirisena has claimed once the plotting of his assassination by Indian intelligence agency RAW. He claimed in 2018 “Indian intelligence Agency RAW was engaged in the activities to assassinate him (President Meithripala Sirisena). The Colombo correspondent of “The Hindu” Ms. Srinivasan has reported that Sri Lankan authorities were seeking “Chinese assistance to tap the evidence pertaining to the assassination plot”.
India’s interference in Sri-Lanka started from Lankan Civil war. Mahinda Rajapaksa had held RAW among those for the change in regime following his defeat in 2015. Colombo station chief of India’s spy agency RAW was accused of helping the opposition oust President Mahinda Rajapaksa.
India denied the charges at that time. India has gone against Sri Lanka in UNHRC as well. Recently TNA leader has openly asked India to punish Sri Lanka in UNHRC. Colombo’s rethink on involving India and Japan in the trilateral development of the Colombo Port’s East Terminal has angered India and it has delayed on the Sri Lankan request for a debt-moratorium and currency-swap, one way or the other.
It is an open secret, that India is involved in insurgencies in all neighboring countries. India is supporting terrorists in Pakistan through Afghanistan; India supported and trained Mukti Bani in Bangladesh and Tamils of Sri Lanka. Nepal Prime Minister K.P. Sharma Oli too has alleged that BJP led Indian Government was “trying to topple my government”.
BJP led Indian government openly interfered in Maldives elections. Even during hearings of PCoI on easter attacks many security and intelligence officials named India behind the attacks and Sara (wife of a suicide bomber) has also escaped to India. Interference in neighbouring states has gained momentum after BJP has come to power. BJP is punishing minorities in India and on contrary is instigating ethnic groups in neighbouring countries against the states.
Independent of the specifics involved, the larger Chinese border violence, India suddenly finds itself caught in a series of issues with smaller neighbors, all over again. This seems to be periodic and cyclic. Earlier this year, thus, Bangladesh, perceived as the most trustworthy of neighbors at present, reacted strongly to India’s Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA) and even cancelled ministerial visits.
Sri Lanka needs to look very critically on these revelations. On one side India asks Sri Lanka not to comment on it’s revocation of statehood for its disputed Jammu and Kashmir region because it was an internal matter, while Modi asks Sri Lanka for power sharing with Tamils.