In what seems like a prelude to National Security Adviser Shivshankar Menon’s scheduled visit to Sri Lanka this month, the country’s Economic Development Minister Basil Rajapaksa will travel to India early next week for high-level talks with the Indian government.
The visit assumes significance in the wake of Prime Minister Manmohan Singh expressing concern over reports of Colombo considering diluting the 13th Amendment to Sri Lanka’s Constitution.
The Amendment, which followed the Indo-Lanka accord of 1987, allows for provincial councils to be set up with certain powers, but some in the ruling coalition here seem rather keen on repealing two provisions — one that allows a merger of two or more provincial councils, and another that limits Parliamentary power with regard to subjects devolved to the provinces.
In this context, the Sri Lankan government recently formed a Parliamentary Select Committee to deliberate on the 13th Amendment, but certain parties have boycotted the PSC.
On Saturday, Daily Mirror, a national newspaper here, reported that Mr. Rajapaksa, brother of President Mahinda Rajapaksa, would leave for India on July 4, as the President’s envoy. Though the report quoted the Minister saying he would go to New Delhi on July 4, sources in the Ministry here were tight-lipped about the visit when The Hindu sought more details. The Sri Lankan High Commission in New Delhi, too, declined to comment. However, it is reliably learnt from sources in New Delhi that Mr. Rajapaksa’s visit, which has created much anticipation here, is scheduled later this week.
Part of a “regular high-level interaction” between India and Sri Lanka the talks are expected to cover a gamut of issues, economic cooperation being a key point of discussion, particularly since
Commerce Secretary S.R. Rao was recently in Sri Lanka. He met Mr. Rajapaksa on strengthening Indo-Sri Lanka economic ties, in trade and commerce, exports, investment and tourism development. On whether the 13th Amendment would figure on the agenda, sources in New Delhi said, at such a high-level interaction, all major issues would be flagged and that the 13th Amendment was a major issue for India.
This article has been corrected for a factual error.