How Does Mahinda Rajapaksa’s Return Impact India-Lanka Ties?  

PM Modi’s call to Rajapaksa, before the official results, was a first move towards better relations with Sri Lanka

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South Asia’s longest-serving elected leader, praised and criticised globally for wiping out the LTTE and ending 20-year-long civil war in Sri Lanka, twice elected as president, and sworn in as prime minister for the fourth time.

Mahinda Rajapaksa, the 74-year-old leader, took oath as Sri Lanka's prime minister in presence of his younger brother and President of the island nation, Gotabaya Rajapaksa.

The Rajapaksas have dominated Sri Lankan politics for decades.

The Lawyer, Actor, Politician

Born to a family of politicians, Mahinda become the youngest Sri Lankan parliamentarian in 1970 – at the age of 24.

He received a law degree from Colombo law college in 1974. After losing his seat in 1977, he focused on his career as a lawyer, and appeared in the Sinhalese film Nomiyena Minisun in 1994.

He re-entered parliament in 1989 and there was no looking back. He has completed 50 years of parliamentary politics.

Mahinda Rajapaksa was elected prime minister in 2004, 2018, 2019 and 2020 and elected President in 2005 and 2010.

LTTE and the Sri Lankan Civil War

Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam or LTTE is a guerrilla organisation which operated as a rebel army, de facto government and sought to establish an independent Tamil State in northern and eastern Sri Lanka for more than two decades.

In 2009, the Sri Lankan army defeated the LTTE, finally ending the civil war at home, Rajapaksa’s popularity surged but he was globally criticised for his army’s alleged brutality in the final phase of the war, which saw deaths of thousands of civilians.

The Rajapaksas and Sri Lankan Politics

  • Da Rajapaksa, Mahinda's father, was an MP and Cabinet minister.
  • DM Rajapaksa, Mahinda's uncle, was state councillor.
  • Gotabaya Rajapaksa, Mahinda's brother, is ex-lankan defence secretary and the current president of Sri Lanka.
  • Basil Rajapaksa, Mahinda's brother, is and MP and ex-Cabinet minister.
  • Chamal Rajapaksa, Mahinda's brother is an MP.
  • Namal Rajapaksa, Mahinda's son, is an MP.
  • Shashindra Rajapaksa, Mahinda's nephew, is the CM of UVA province.
  • Jaliya Wickramasuriya, Mahinda's cousin, is Sri Lanka's ambassador to the US.
  • Udayanga Weeratunga, Mahinda's cousin, is Sri Lanka's ambassador to Russia.

This is the second time Mahinda took oath as PM under his brother Gotabaya as President.

Mahinda-Modi Ties

PM Modi was the first world leader to congratulate Rajapaksa on his landslide victory.

Amid a standoff with China, maintaining ties with Sri Lanka is a big challenge for India. Every time Mahinda Rajapaksa visits India, he makes it a point to meet PM Modi.

Days after Gotabaya Rajapaksa became President, Foreign Minister S Raishankar visited Colombo to meet him.

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