Anura Kumara Dissanayake, leader of Sri Lanka’s leftist Janatha Vimukthi Peramuna (JVP or People’s Liberation Front), who is currently visiting India on New Delhi’s invitation, on Monday met External Affairs Minister S. Jaishankar and National Security Adviser (NSA) Ajit Doval, in an indication of the Union government’s high-level engagement with the 55-year-old opposition politician.
Mr. Dissanayake is heading a delegation of his party-led National People’s Power [NPP] alliance to India on a five-day, three-city visit, covering New Delhi, Ahmedabad, and Thiruvananthapuram.
The visit and meetings assume greater significance, coinciding with his rising popularity in the domestic political sphere, that too in a crucial election year. This is the first time New Delhi has invited the JVP leader.
Following the meeting with him, Mr. Jaishankar said on social media platform X that he had a “good discussion on our bilateral relationship and the mutual benefits from its further deepening. Also spoke about Sri Lanka’s economic challenges and the path ahead”. India, with its Neighbourhood First and SAGAR policies “will always be a reliable friend and trusted partner” of Sri Lanka, the Minister said.
“In our meeting with Mr. Doval, we discussed regional security and bilateral issues concerning India and Sri Lanka,” JVP MP Vijitha Herath, who is part of the visiting delegation, told The Hindu from New Delhi. The party, which has in the past fiercely opposed “Indian expansionism”, has since shifted its stance, signalling readiness to engage with diverse international actors with an interest in Sri Lanka.
New Delhi hosting the JVP leader has drawn attention in the island nation, where Mr. Dissanayake has seen a notable rise in popularity — seen in local opinion polls — after Sri Lanka’s economic crisis in 2022, when a staggering mass uprising booted out former President Gotabaya Rajapaksa. Going by local surveys, many citizens, evidently disenchanted with Sri Lanka’s two main political camps alternating at the country’s helm, appear keen to give the JVP, the third, a chance in a likely election this year.