Wednesday, May 17, 2017

A port, an airport, 2 harbours: Jaffna CM offers India a chance to checkmate China in Sri Lanka

WION's exclusive interview with the first democratically-elected chief minister of Sri Lanka's Northern Province, Justice CV  Wigneswaran

PRS: Justice CV Wigneswaran, it's a pleasure to see you again. You met with India's Prime Minister Narendra Modi at a dinner hosted by Sri Lankan President Maithripala Sirisena last week. What was your impression of Mr Modi - anecdotal, personal, whatever else you can tell us?

CVW: Well, I had no occasion to meet and discuss, except to exchange pleasantries. But I have met him earlier when he came to  Jaffna and I have very pleasant memories of that visit. I went with him to some of our temples and had the occasion to open  certain housing schemes etc. But even earlier, I had the occasion to hear of PM Modi as chief minister of Gujarat from Gujaratis when I visited  the state. They had a very high opinion of him. I have found that he is a very good administrator, focused in all that he is doing and  a very disciplined person. As a Hindu, I am also taken up by the way in which he lives his life -getting up early in the morning, doing his yoga and so on. So my assessment of him is very very positive and I have no doubt that he will take India to great  heights, both economically and otherwise.

PRS: Sir, could you please enunciate how the Northern Province and all Tamils in Sri Lanka would like India to shape its relationship with Colombo and also with Jaffna from now on?

CVW: India is our big neighbour. Their economy is thriving. They need to help their neighbours. But they also have a geopolitical  problem: the Chinese influence in the South Asian region. We would expect a country as close as India to help us. We have a  number of projects which were drawn up earlier but which were either abandoned due to the war or discontinued for other  reasons. We want those things to be brought back again especially with regard to the airport in Palaly, the Kankesanthurai harbour,  the Dhanushkodi-Thalaimannar ferry service. These were all there earlier and it would now help both countries if they were  resuscitated. Bringing them back to life will not only help the Tamils of the North and East but also the Sri Lankan government in  Colombo. A regional airport and two harbours in the North and East - Kankensanthurai (KKS) and Mullaithivu on the north-eastern  coast will be useful. At one stage, Mullaithivu catered to 1/3rd of the fishing needs of the entire island-nation. Reviving all these will be  beneficial to India, Sri Lanka and the Tamils of the North and East.  Both Sinhalese and Tamils want India to be a helpful big  brother.
17/05/17 WION