Upul Joseph Fernando
Everyone keeps guessing as to what former President Mahinda Rajapaksa and Indian Premier Narendra Modi discussed a few hours before the latter’s departure to New Delhi after a two-day State visit.
Mahinda went to meet Modi after making accusations that the Indian intelligence service RAW connived with Western intelligence forces to topple his government.
Mahinda contended that Modi was unaware of that intelligence plot by RAW and the West. No officials were present at the talks between Modi and Mahinda. Therefore, only Modi and Mahinda know what they discussed while the rest keeps on guessing.
On the last occasion Mahinda met Modi, the latter extended his best wishes to Mahinda for the presidential poll Mahinda was to contest. So Mahinda boasted to everyone at that time that Modi was with him.
Mahinda may have got that confidence as his son Namal was using Bollywood star Salman Khan as the link to send direct messages to Modi. In dealing with foreign issues, Mahinda never trusted the External Affairs Ministry and the Indian High Commission in Colombo. Instead, he trusted Namal. Displaying the direct link to Modi via Salman Khan, Namal may have used the opportunity to gain marks from the father.
Earlier, Mahinda placed his trust in his brother Basil when it came to Indo-Lanka issues. When a power struggle erupted between Basil and Namal to succeed Mahinda someday, Namal took control of local matters pertaining to India. Mahinda had no reason to suspect that Modi was not with him because the assurance was given by his own son. Could be due to that fact Mahinda had exonerated Modi of charges of having defeated him and puts the blame on RAW.
Mahinda during his brief meeting with Modi last week may have urged Modi to mount pressure on the Maithri Government to halt harassment on him and his family members because that appears to be Mahinda’s main worry these days. Even Sirima Bandaranaike made a similar appeal to Indian Premier Indira Gandhi in 1980 when the J.R. Jayewardene Government tried to deprive Sirima of her civic rights. Though Indira applied pressure, JR just ignored such pressure and went ahead. Sirima made that appeal to Indira as they were close friends at personal level. There’s no such personal friendship between Mahinda and Modi.
There’s speculation that Mahinda made charges on the RAW at the one-on-one meet with Modi. Even late President Ranasinghe Premadasa made that mistake. When V.P. Singh took over as Prime Minister after Rajiv Gandhi, Premadasa dispatched his Foreign Minister Ranjan Wijeratne to New Delhi to brief Singh on the atrocities committed by the IPKF in the North. Wijeratne proceeded to the Indian capital with photographic evidence.
When Wijeratne called on Singh and produced photographs of the IPKF raping Tamil girls, Singh got angry. He could not bear the allegations made against his troops by a foreign minister of a neighbouring country. Half way through Singh left the meeting stating he had the fullest confidence in his Army.
Wijeratne was stunned at the manner that Singh left in anger. If Mahinda had complained about the RAW to Modi, Mahinda may have had faced the same fate like Wijeratne. However, the Mahinda-Modi meet was brief and not more than a few minutes. Mahinda may have felt he was only a dud coin after losing the presidency.