Kiriella justifies edging out Sajith as Minister in Attendance

Lakshman Kiriella

Since Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi only spent four hours in Sri Lanka, Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe had given the time allocated for him to the opposition parties to discuss matters with the Indian Premier, Leader of the House, Minister Lakshman Kiriella said.

Wickremesinghe apparently discussed matters with Modi during their ride together to Colombo from the airport. “With this, Opposition Leader, Mahinda Rajapaksa and Tamil National Alliance (TNA) Leader, R. Sampanthan could spend more time with Modi. As we said earlier Wickremesinghe discussed matters with Modi while they were travelling to Colombo from the Airport and back.”

Kiriella said that Indian officials had asked Wickremesinghe to take part in all special events Modi attended in Sri Lanka.

It had been earlier reported that President Maithripala Sirisena appointed Minister Sajith Premadsa as the Minister in attendance to accompany Modi during the visit. However, Wickremesinghe acted in that capacity when Indian PM arrived. Wickremesinghe also shared a vehicle with Modi, and Premadsa had to follow them in another vehicle. Premadasa only could act in his capacity as the minister in attendance at the President’s House and at India House when Opposition Leader Mahinda Rajapaksa met Modi. During Modi’s return to the airport, Wickremesinghe again accompanied Modi.

Modi landed in Sri Lanka around 11 am on Sunday. After paying respect to the victims of the Easter attacks at the St. Anthony’s Church, Modi arrived at the President’s House where he was accorded a ceremonial reception. Modi also held talks with the Leader of Opposition Mahinda Rajapaksa and discussed the need for close collaboration between the two countries, especially in the field of counter terrorism, security and economic development. Later, a Tamil National Alliance delegation led by R Sampanthan also called on Prime Minister Modi and congratulated him on the latter’s mammoth election win.

(Source: The Island)