Modi telephones MS, invites him to India; TN parties hail MR’s ouster 



Our Special Correspondent

NEW DELHI, January 9: Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi telephoned Maithripala Sirisena this morning soon after he established an unbeatable lead over incumbent Sri Lankan President Mahinda Rajapaksa, and congratulated him on his victory. 

Modi invited Sirisena to visit India, saying he looks forward to receive him here.

He told Sirisena that he looks forward to working with him to take the bilateral ties to a new level.

Modi first called up Sirisena and then wrote a letter to him, hailing his win and expressing India’s continued solidarity to Sri Lanka’s peace and development.

"I spoke to Shri Maithripala Sirisena and congratulated him. I congratulate the people of Sri Lanka on the peaceful and democratic poll process," the prime minister tweeted. "As a close friend and neighbour, reaffirmed India’s continued solidarity and support for Sri Lanka’s peace, development and prosperity," he added.

In his letter, Modi wrote: "Your historic victory is a tribute to your vision for Sri Lanka and your capacity to connect with people’s yearning for change." I look forward to working with you to take our relationship to a new level for benefit of our people and our region."

Modi wished Sirisena all the success in building a peaceful and prosperous Sri Lanka, on foundations of genuine and effective reconciliation.

President Pranab Mukherjee congratulated Maithripala Sirisena on his election. In his message on micro-blogging site Twitter, Mukherjee said he is confident that in coming years, both countries will continue to work together to further strengthen bilateral relations.

"Congratulations and warm felicitations to Mr Maithripala Sirisena on his election as President of Sri Lanka. Best wishes for success of endeavors for peace and development in Sri Lanka and for progress and prosperity of its people," Mukherjee said.

The ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) welcomed the change of guard in the island-nation and congratulated the new leadership, hoping the ties between the two countries will strengthen further.

"Congrats and welcome to new leadership in Sri Lanka. Congrats to people for peaceful n fair elections," BJP general secretary Ram Madhav tweeted.

The party’s national Spokesperson MJ Akbar also expressed hope that the age-old ties between India and Sri Lanka will take a fresh turn by the change brought by people in the neighbouring country.

"The triumph of democracy is always a positive sign because it reflects the changing mood of people, and relations between the best of neighbours like India and Sri Lanka will always take a strong step forward when spurred by the will of the people," he said.

"A new government in Colombo will also mark a fresh turn in our age-old relationship," Akbar said.

The opposition Congress Party said Mahinda Rajpaksa’s defeat shows that "majoritarian politics" has a limited shelf life.

"The Sri Lankan presidential election results tell you that majoritarian politics has a limited shelf-life. Finally, the majority rejects it," party spokesman Sanjay Jha tweeted.

In another tweet, he said, "President Rajapaksa was intoxicated with arrogance. Elections were preponed to 2015, and held on 8th Jan for superstitious reasons."

In Chennai, Tamil Nadu political parties hailing Rajapaksa’s defeat, and upped the ante for a probe into his role in the alleged war crimes against minority Tamils in the bloody and brutal civil war that ended in May 2009.

DMK President Muthuvel Karunanidhi said that his party’s demand for an international probe into alleged war crimes stays.

"The demand we had already made stays as it is. Both the winner and loser should think over who is responsible for the past incidents, and reform," he said in an apparent reference to the ethnic issue involving Tamils.

Rajapaksa’s harshest critic and MDMK founder Vaiko termed the defeat as "justice by Tamils."

"International observers maintain that this election result is a nose-cut for Narendra Modi. BJP is still persisting with the man (Subramanian Swamy) who demanded Bharat Ratna for Rajapaksa," he said in a statement.

He also slammed Modi for congratulating Sirisena even before results were out and demanded that the Prime Minister should "stop his attitude of betrayal" of Lankan Tamils.

He urged Sirisena to allow entry of UN Human Rights Council (UNHRC) investigators into his country to probe alleged war crimes.

Vaiko said one should not expect Sirisena to deliver justice to Tamils since he had been part of the Rajapaksa government till the last minute. He recalled that Sirisena had stated that he would not demilitarise Tamil-speaking areas during his election campaign.

Vaiko, however, continued his support for Eelam, a separate homeland for Tamils, saying that was the only solution to the decades-long ethnic issue.

DMDK founder Vijayakant said the victory of Sirisena was a victory of Tamils.

"The new government under Sirisena should rehabilitate Tamils in their native places and restore their rights and upgrade their lives," he said.

PMK founder S Ramadoss, TMC(M) chief GK Vasan and Dravidar Kazhagam leader K Veeramani also hailed Rajapaksa’s defeat.

Meanwhile, Union Urban Development and Housing Minister M Venkaiah Naidu said in Chenna that the new government in Colombo should implement the 13th amendment in "letter and spirit," and that the aspirations of the ethnic Tamils there must be met.

"The Sri Lankan government should implement the 13th amendment (an Indian initiative aimed at giving more powers to provinces) in their Constitution in letter and spirit. The aspirations of the ethnic Tamils should be met. We (India) must work together with our neighbours," he told reporters in Chennai.

Asked why Rajapaksa has lost, Naidu said: "It is for Rajapaksa to understand. It is for the people of Lanka to decide on their leader. It is an internal matter of Sri Lanka. I cannot comment on that."

The Communist Party of India (CPI) today hailed the election verdict in Sri Lanka.  Party MP D Raja said the island’s people have rejected Rajapaksa’s brand of politics of President Rajapaksa, and asked India to work with the new government to find a political solution to the problem of ethnic Tamils.

He said as the new President takes over in a new environment, it has to be seen how his administration will handle issues related to Sri Lankan Tamils and their constitutional rights.

The United Nations, which had been seeking a credible investigation into the alleged war crimes during the war on LTTE, should also work with the new government to ensure justice to Tamils.

Raja said for the Indian government too it cannot be business as usual. It should work with the new government to find a reasonable solution to the problem of Sri Lankan Tamils.

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