Lanka crisis: Centre calls all-party meeting at Tamil Nadu's request
The government on Sunday announced an all-party conference on the unrest in Sri Lanka was scheduled for Tuesday evening. Union ministers Nirmala Sitharaman and S Jaishankar will give reports on the situation. At an all-party conference before the monsoon parliamentary session, the DMK and AIADMK asked India to intervene in the crisis in the neighboring country facing its worst financial emergency in seven decades.
- Sri Lanka has been facing record inflation and severe shortages of food, fuel, and other essentials.
- It's struggling to service its $51B foreign debt due to a lack of foreign exchange with the COVID-19 pandemic jeopardizing its lucrative tourism revenue.
- Gotabaya Rajapaksa was forced to flee the country and resign as the president amid civil unrest, with protesters storming his residence and destroying property.
Both M Thambidurai of the All India Anna Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (AIADMK), which is a member of the central government, and TR Baalu of the Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (DMK), which governs Tamil Nadu, expressed concern about the state of the crisis-hit nation's Tamil people. In addition to giving relief through various avenues, India has so far resisted direct involvement in the crisis.
The Ministry of External Affairs issued a carefully worded statement last week stating, "India stands with the people of Sri Lanka as they seek to realize their aspirations for prosperity and progress through democratic means and values, established institutions, and constitutional framework." The statement claimed Sri Lanka is essential to India's neighborhood first policy, referring to India's recent financial assistance to the island nation.
"India is Sri Lanka's closest neighbor and our two countries share deep civilizational bonds," the statement added. Since Rajapaksa's departure, the number of people at the protest sites has decreased, and the demonstrators have vacated the 200-year-old presidential palace, the prime minister's official Temple Trees residence, and his office. People throughout Lanka are, however, queuing for kilometers outside fuel stations to replenish their tanks.
Meanwhile, battling the acute economic crisis, Sri Lanka's Parliament convened for a session on Saturday to start the procedure of electing the island nation's next president. The house will vote on it on Wednesday. This came after Rajapaksa was forced to flee the country and resign from the presidential post. On Friday, Ranil Wickremesinghe took oath as the island nation's acting president.