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All eyes on Doval-Maithri meet

| by Upul Joseph Fernando

( December 3, 2014, Colombo, Sri Lanka Guardian) When former army Commander Sarath Fonseka flew to Mumbai, India during the 2010 presidential election, it was kept as a secret from the then government. Fonseka kept the government guessing. Many said Fonseka flew to meet officials of the South Block. The incumbent Indian Defence Secretary, Ajith Doval has chosen to fly to Colombo even before candidates hand over nominations for the upcoming presidential election. He is expected to meet common candidate Maithripala Sirisena. Doval arrives in Colombo to deliver the keynote address at the 'Galle Dialogue 2014.' This would be his first visit to Colombo. He will also meet UNP leader Ranil Wickremesinghe and former President Chandrika Kumaratunga during his stay.

Ranil rejected

After Indian Prime Minister, Narendra Modi, assumed office, attempts made by Ranil to meet him proved futile. That failure was surprising as considering the strong relationship between the UNP and Modi's Bharathiya Janatha Party (BJP). Moreover, Ranil was a leader who had very close links with L.K.Advani, a senior member of the BJP. When Vajpayee's BJP formed the government in the past, Ranil had the fortune to meet Vajpayee. It could be that Ranil was not given the opportunity to meet Modi, because Ranil had failed to accomplish the task of an Opposition Leader, UNPers who maintain relations with India viewed. They also claimed that India had urged Ranil to quit the presidential race and extend support towards a common candidate. However, this is the first time the Indian Defence Secretary is meeting Ranil.

Though Chandika too, wanted to meet Modi it never materialized. The Indian Defence Secretary arrived for the first time in Colombo at a time all opposition political party leaders have united to defeat the Rajapaksas'. The government seems to have focused attention on the proposed Doval- Maithripala meet. It was reported in the media last week that Maithri had wanted the symbol 'Lotus Flower' to contest the presidential polls. The lotus flower is the symbol of the BJP. It appears that Maithri looks to pose off as Sri Lanka's Narendra Modi. There are similarities in the past history of both Modi and Maithri. Modi's father was a tea kiosk owner in a remote village in Gujarat. Maithri is the son of a farmer in Polonnaruwa, miles away from the capital in the country. Modi entered politics through the RSS ideology group of the BJP. Maithri entered politics through the left alliances of the Sri Lanka Freedom Party (SLFP). Modi cemented his political journey through the RSS of the BJP to become the secretary of the BJP Gujarat branch. Maithri kicked off his political journey becoming the SLFP District Secretary at Polonnaruwa. When Modi fought against the pressure of Indira Gandhi, Maithri stood against the pressure mounted by the J.R. Jayewardene administration.

When Modi became the National Secretary of the BJP and travelled from Gujarat to New Delhi, Maithri came from Polonnaruwa to the SLFP Headquarters in Darley Road, Colombo to work in the party library. When Modi successfully won the confidence of BJP leader Advani, Maithri too won the confidence of SLFP leader, Mrs. Sirimavo Bandaranaike. The year 2001 was very special to Modi as he became the Chief Minister of Gujarat in October that year. Later Modi became Chief Minister of Gujarat when his predecessor in the BJP Sankersingh Vagela left the BJP to form a new political party. That was also a period Modi extended support to chief minister aspirant Patel. When SB Dissanayake defected from the SLFP in October that year over differences with Chandrika, Maithri became the party General Secretary. Until Modi became India's Prime Minister he was popularly known as a State leader in Gujarat. Maithri was popular as a district leader until he decided to become a presidential candidate.

That is why we state that Modi's Defence Secretary's meet with 'Sri Lankan Modi' is unique.

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