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As Modi visits Lanka, Rajapaksa blames India for his poll defeat

March 13, 2015 15:10 IST

Former Sri Lankan president Mahinda Rajapaksa has blamed India, the United States and European countries for his humiliating defeat in the January election.

“It was very open, Americans, the Norwegians, Europeans were openly working against me. And India’s Research Analysis Wing,” Rajapaksa told the Hong Kong-based South China Morning Post in an interview.

“Both the US and India openly used their embassies to bring me down,” Rajapaksa said ahead of Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s maiden visit to the country.

A media report from Colombo soon after Rajapaksa’s defeat in the January 8 election had said that a RAW official was instrumental in uniting rival political parties -- the Sri

Lanka Freedom Party and the United National Party -- against him during the polls.

According to the report, the unnamed official was also asked to leave the country.

India had rejected the report saying that all the normal tenure of an Indian diplomat in Sri Lanka is three years and all officials who have been transferred during last year have completed that.

“It’s a normal transfer,” ministry of external affairs spokesman had said.

Rajapaksa, who was defeated by his ex-aide Maithripala Sirisena, at that time had said that he did not know all the facts.

In his interview to the Post on Friday, Rajapaksa said, “I asked the Indians, ‘Why are you doing this? It’s an open secret what you are doing’. I had assured them that I would

never allow the Sri Lankan soil to be used against any friendly country, but they had other ideas,” he said.

He also defended Chinese infrastructure projects which were started in the country during his regime.

Asked if the docking of two Chinese submarines in Sri Lanka last year had raised India’s hackles, Rajapaksa said: “Whenever Chinese submarines come to this part of the world, they always inform India.

“The Chinese president was here, so the subs were here. Find out how many Indian submarines and warships came to our waters when the Indian prime minister came for the SAARC South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation summit in 2008,” he said.

During a visit to Beijing last month, Sri Lanka’s new Foreign Minister Mangala Samaraweera said the docking of a Chinese submarine at Colombo harbour coincided with the visit of Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe to the Sri Lankan capital and the new government will not allow foreign submarines to use the island’s ports.

Rajapaksa also told the Post that Lanka’s new government is being unfair to China by unnecessarily dragging it into domestic politics.

“They should be thankful to China for the help they extended; instead these people are treating China like a criminal,” he said.

“But I would urge China not to take it personally. It’s me they are after. They are only using China to get me. China should not feel hurt and stop helping Sri Lanka,” he said.

The new government said it is reviewing investments from all countries made in Sri Lanka during Rajapaksa regime to investigate allegations of corruption.

It also said China’s $ five billion loans were provided with high interests and wants to renegotiate them with Beijing.

Also the Sirisena government has temporarily suspended the $1.5 billion ColomboPortCity project undertaken by a Chinese firm on the grounds that it has not obtained environmental clearances.

“They say I am pro-China. I am not pro-China, or pro-India, or pro-America,” Rajapaksa said, adding, “I am pro-Sri Lanka. I wanted development for Sri Lanka and China was the only one which had the resources and the inclination to help me.  

“Take, for example, the Hambantota port and airport. I had offered both to India, they were not interested. So who would I go to? Only China could bring in the money I needed,” he said.

These two giant infrastructure projects in southern Sri Lanka were attacked by the opposition as white elephants built with Chinese money that would also bring expensive debt.

Rajapaksa rejected the new government’s charge that the ColomboPortCity, a controversial luxury real estate project on reclaimed land, did not have the required feasibility or environmental impact study reports.

Unlike most infrastructure projects undertaken by Chinese companies, ColomboPortCity, inaugurated by President Xi Jinping in September, is financed by equity from state- controlled and Hong Kong-listed China Communications Construction Co, or funds raised through it, with no commitment from the Sri Lankan government, the Post report said.

Under the deal, CCCC would reclaim 233 hectares of land off Colombo. Of this, 108 hectares would be given to CCCC including 20 hectares outright and the rest on a 99-year lease.

Rajapaksa also declined to say whether he would contest the Parliamentary polls.

Asked if he returned to power, would he do anything differently?, he said “But I haven’t decided if I want to come back to power.”

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