New Sri Lankan President Gotabaya Rajapaksa is seen to be closer to China, which lends heavily to Sri Lanka. India would tread cautiously as China would look to expand its naval presence in the Indian Ocean while India hates to concede space in the region.
Bengaluru: Wartime defence secretary Gotabaya Rajapaksa is the new Sri Lankan President as he won the presidential elections, defeating Sajith Premadasa.
According to official data, Rajapakse handed over defeat to Sajith Premadasa with well over 13 lakh votes.
What this development means is that it marks the re-entry of the Rajapaksa family into politics.
And how does India view the Sri Lankan Presidential elections?
Well, Gotabaya is considered to be very close to China. China lends heavily to Sri Lanka. In fact, a few years, China acquired the all-important Hambantota port, as a debt-swap from Sri Lanka.
After the acquisition, China has increased its ties with Sri Lanka and expanded its naval base in the Indian Ocean. It has also established a logistics base in Djibouti.
India doesn’t like to concede any space in the Indian Ocean region to China, which has more ships in the water body.
Interestingly, US and France too have interests in the region. The US is pushing for a new Indo-Pacific strategy based on the interests that it shares with India in the region.
Under its Belt and Road initiative, China has given huge sums of money to the island nation. Mahindra Rajapakse, another former Sri Lankan President had borrowed extensively from China for these purposes.
In 2014, under Mahindra Rajapakse, China had docked two submarines in Sri Lanka.
Gotabaya is the brother of Mahindra. Now that he has won, experts believe he will adopt the pro-China stance his brother had adopted.
It was even said that Gotabaya had vowed to “restore relations” with China even as many countries expressed their concerns over debts Sri Lanka owes to China.
Sources say that Gotabaya might even appoint his elder brother as the prime minister of the country.
On the other hand, the lost candidate Premadasa is considered to be more close to India and the US.
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Last Updated Nov 17, 2019, 6:09 PM IST