Colombo/Islamabad: In what is being perceived as a setback to India, Ranil Wickremesinghe, seen as very close to India, resigned on Wednesday, following which new Sri Lankan President Gotabaya Rajapaksa reportedly named his elder brother and former president Mahinda Rajapaksa as the new prime minister.
This means that the Rajapaksa brothers will occupy the post of both President and Prime Minister in the island nation and have once again become all-powerful, a factor that may worry India, given the earlier proximity of the two brothers towards China.
International news agencies reported that Mahinda Rajapaksa will assume duties as the new Prime Minister soon after Mr. Wickremesinghe steps down formally on Thursday. New Delhi is hoping to stave off any renewed pronounced pro-China tilt now by Colombo through a policy of active engagement with Sri Lanka.
Gotabaya Rajapaksa will visit India on November 29, with New Delhi having swiftly extended an invitation to him on Tuesday in person through External Affairs Minister S. Jaishankar in Colombo. The EAM had conveyed to the Sri Lankan President Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s “message of a partnership for shared peace, progress, prosperity and security” while expressing confidence that under Mr. Rajapaksa’s leadership, Indo-Sri Lankan relations would reach ‘greater heights’.