New Delhi: Shortly after Ranil Wickremesinghe won the election in the Sri Lankan Parliament on Wednesday morning to become the cash-strapped island nation’s new President, India said that “as a close friend and neighbour of Sri Lanka and a fellow democracy”, it would “continue to be supportive of the quest of the people of Sri Lanka for stability and economic recovery, through democratic means and values, established democratic institutions and constitutional framework”.
New Delhi also denied “baseless and speculative” reports in a section of the Sri Lankan media about interference on its part in the polls, saying such media reports “are clearly a figment of someone’s imagination”, and New Delhi “doesn’t interfere in internal affairs and democratic processes of another country”.
Observers see Mr Wickremesinghe’s victory as good news for India as he has a particularly good working relationship with New Delhi. The polls were necessitated since the man who was President till recently, Gotabaya Rajapaksa, had fled the country, which is now facing a grave economic crisis. Mr Wickremesinghe was then the Prime Minister.
The Indian high commission in Colombo tweeted: “The Parliament of Sri Lanka, in exercise of the provisions of the Sri Lankan Constitution, has today elected H.E. Mr Ranil Wickremesinghe as the President of Sri Lanka.” Before the results became known, it tweeted: “We have seen baseless and purely speculative media reports about efforts at the political level from India to influence political leaders in Sri Lanka regarding elections in the Sri Lankan Parliament to the the post of the President of Sri Lanka. We categorically deny. these media reports as completely false. They are clearly a figment of someone’s imagination.”
It added: “It is reiterated that India supports the realisation of the aspirations of the people of Sri Lanka in accordance with democratic means and values, established institutions as well as constitutional provisions, and doesn’t interfere in internal affairs and democratic processes of another country.”
On Tuesday, external affairs minister S. Jaishankar had told an all-party meeting in New Delhi called by the Indian government that Sri Lanka was facing “a very serious crisis” that makes India naturally worried. It may be recalled that India has already provided assistance worth $3.8 billion this year to the cash-strapped island nation, which is now facing a grave economic crisis that has worsened....