Prime Minister Narendra Modi has sent a congratulatory letter to Ranil Wickremesinghe after the latter got elected as the new president of Sri Lanka, reiterating that New Delhi will continue to back the island nation’s efforts for stability and economic recovery, the Indian mission in Colombo informed on Tuesday.
India’s high commissioner to Sri Lanka, Gopal Baglay, on Tuesday handed over humanitarian aid worth more than Sri Lankan ₹3.4 billion ($9.4 million), donated by the government of Tamil Nadu, and met Prime Minister Dinesh Gunawardena as part of the Indian outreach towards the new leadership in Colombo.
“PM @narendramodi sent a congratulatory letter to H.E. President @RW_UNP on his election. PM reiterated that [India] will continue to be supportive of the quest of the people of [Sri Lanka] for stability and economic recovery, through established democratic means, institutions and constitutional framework,” the Indian high commission said in a series of tweets.
The letter also stated that PM Modi looked forward to working closely with Wickremesinghe for the “mutual benefit of people and strengthening the age-old, close and friendly relations between #India and #SriLanka”.
During his courtesy meet with Gunawardena, Baglay conveyed the greetings from the leadership, government and people of India, and thanked the premier for his guidance in various capacities to strengthen long-standing and close bilateral relations in all areas of engagement.
Baglay also thanked Gunawardena for his appreciation for India’s “unprecedented support to the people of Sri Lanka”, the high commission said in a separate set of tweets.
India has provided aid worth $3.8 billion since the start of this year to help Sri Lanka cope with its worst economic crisis since its independence in 1948. While distancing itself from Sri Lanka’s political forces, India has said that it will support the Lankan people’s efforts to achieve stability and economic recovery through democratic means.
Two days after he was elected president by Sri Lankan lawmakers on July 20, Wickremesinghe appointed Gunawardena, a close ally of the Rajapaksa clan, as prime minister. Wickremesinghe replaced former president Gotabaya Rajapaksa, who fled to Singapore and resigned after weeks of protests over spiralling inflation and a severe shortage of food and fuel.
During a separate meeting in Colombo with Sri Lankan minister Ali Sabry and Keheliya Rambukwella, Baglay handed over humanitarian materials donated by the Tamil Nadu government.
The southern Indian state has so far donated 40,000 tonnes of rice, 500 tonnes of milk powder and more than 100 tonnes of medicines, whose combined worth is around $22 million, to Sri Lanka.
Wickremesinghe’s administration will now have to control inflation and cope with a shortage of essential commodities, such as food, medicines and fertilisers, while it negotiates a bailout package with the International Monetary Fund (IMF).