Foreign Policy Watch: India-Sri Lanka

[op-ed snap] Rule of Rajapaksas


From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : Nothing much

Mains level : India - Sri Lanka


Gotabaya Rajapaksa’s presidency has started. 


    • After Ranil Wickremesinghe stepped down as Prime Minister, the new president appointed Mahinda as the new prime minister of a caretaker government. 
    • Another brother, Chamal, has been appointed a minister in the government.
    • The government will hold forth until fresh parliamentary elections are held in 2020. The five-year term ends next August. 
    • Mahinda was barred from the presidential election because he had already held the office twice. He will run the country in close coordination with his brother. 


    • The parliamentary configuration did not allow the new dispensation to do away with progressive amendments to the Constitution. 
    • They aimed to check the powers of the executive presidency, including the two-time bar. 
    • The Rajapaksas could clock back on these 2015 amendments when the opportunity arises.

State of polity

    • President Rajapaksa is confident of winning the 2020 parliamentary election. 
    • A divided opposition, engaged in a tug of war between Wickremesinghe and Sajith Premadasa, is unlikely to put up a fight to the Rajapaksa. 
    • Sri Lankan voters have seen that cohabitation, by which the president and prime minister are from different parties leads to paralysis of governance. 


    • India has communicated its desire for hastening national reconciliation in Sri Lanka. 
    • In the post-war years, the rulers oversaw an unprecedented militarisation of the Sinhala Buddhist majority community. 
    • Voters from the majority community have not forgotten that it was the Rajapaksas who crafted a victory over the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam(LTTE). 
    • This powered Gotabaya’s majoritarian victory in these elections. 


National reconciliation requires statesmanship of a tall order. Gotabaya emerged as the newest majoritarian right-wing leader. We are not sure if he can pull it off.

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