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 Post subject: ‘Pretty Rao’ asked to mind her own business
 Post Posted: Tue Sep 12, 2006 1:56 am 
‘Pretty Rao’ asked to mind her own business

Mr. Bandaranaike was apparently referring to Ms. Rao’s role in opposing a move by a Sri Lankan business tycoon to take over the Indian-owned Apollo Hospital.


Seema Guha
Thursday, September 07, 2006
© Daily News & Analysis, India

NEW DELHI: In an unprecedented move Anura Bandarnaike, Sri Lanka’s tourism minister ticked off India’s envoy Nirupama Rao for interfering in the island’s internal matters.

“The pretty Rao should look after her embassy and we will look after our own internal affairs,” Bandaranaike, brother of former president Chandrika Kumaratunga, is reported to have told Parliament on Wednesday.

“It is not the policy of the Government of India and its representative abroad to interfere in the internal affairs of any country. Our High Commissioner in Colombo Nirupama Rao is a senior diplomat and has conducted herself in accordance with the highest professional standards. Her contribution to strengthen Indo-Sri Lankan bilateral relations is well appreciated by the host government,” India’s foreign office spokesman Navtej Sarna told reporters on Thursday.

The Sri Lankan press obviously went to town on the story, with screaming headlines: “Bandaranaike said the Indian High Commissioner does not have to tell the Sri Lankan government whom it should deal with,” the Mirror newspapers said.

There had been reports in the local media that India was unhappy over Sri Lanka buying arms from Pakistan to fight the Tigers. New Delhi’s policy is not to supply military hardware to the Sri Lankan army because of domestic political considerations.

Host governments rarely make a public issue about diplomats posted in their capital. The general rule is for the country to express their unhappiness privately and get the diplomat moved out as soon as possible. Colombo also knows that Rao’s term in coming to an end and she is to leave the island soon.

Rajapakse’s government quickly tried to distance itself from the minister’s remarks. PTI, quoting official sources in Colombo saying the outburst was “absolutely unwarranted”.

A report in the pro-United National Party (UNP) Island newspaper also quoted an unnamed official as saying that the comments did not reflect government thinking. The effort now appears to be to mend fences with India as New Delhi’s support is crucial in the governments fight against the LTTE.

Anura Bandarnaike, is somewhat of a maverick in politics. The only son of distinguished parents, both prime ministers of the country at one point, a bright political future was in store for him.

He was aghast when his mother Sirimavo Bandarnaike anointed sister Chandrika Kumaratunga as her political heir by passing her son. In a huff he joined the UNP.

Anura B. in trouble over attack on Indian envoy

@ ST / 10 Sep 2006

President Mahinda Rajapaksa is to launch a two-pronged investigation into the recent conduct of Tourism Minister Anura Bandaranaike. This stems from speeches made in Parliament and outside by the minister.


President’s Secretary Lalith Weeratunga is to call for Mr. Bandaranaike’s explanation on his alleged violation of Cabinet collective responsibility in criticising Indian High Commissioner Nirupama Rao.

SLFP General Secretary Maithripala Sirisena is to hold a separate disciplinary inquiry on whether Mr. Bandaranaike violated party discipline when he fired out a toughly-worded letter to the general secretary recently. The inquiries have come after Mr. Bandaranaike on Wednesday criticized the role of Indian High Commissioner Nirupama Rao accusing her of getting involved in local politics. Mr. Bandaranaike was apparently referring to Ms. Rao’s role in opposing a move by a Sri Lankan business tycoon to take over the Indian-owned Apollo Hospital.

A spokesman for the President’s office said the usual practice was that President, the Prime Minster or the Foreign Minister should be consulted before any minister made adverse comments regarding the conduct of a foreign envoy. He said Mr. Bandaranaike had not consulted anyone.

President Rajapaksa in an immediate damage-control exercise called Ms. Rao the same evening to reassure her that comments made by Mr. Bandaranaike were his own and did not reflect government policy.

Foreign Minister Mangala Samaraweera on Friday also issued a statement saying Mr. Bandaranaike’s comments did not reflect the views of the Sri Lankan government.

He said the government was deeply appreciative of the pro-active role played by Ms. Rao in improving Indo- Lanka ties.

This came after the Indian government on Thursday issued a statement defending the conduct of Ms. Rao and insisting that neither she nor New Delhi interfered in Sri Lanka’s internal affairs.

The Sunday Times learns the government will make a special statement in parliament, distancing itself from the remarks made by Mr. Bandaranaike.

Mr. Bandaranaike late last month was directed to cut short a foreign trip and return to the country after he wrote a strong letter to the Party General Secretary Sirisena complaining that former President Chandrika Kumaratunga was not invited for the 55th party convention.

Mr. Bandaranaike was in Thailand on his way to attend a conference in Nepal when he was told to return.

However Mr. Sirisena said that Ms. Kumaratunga had been invited.

The President directed Mr. Sirisena to seek Mr. Bandaranaike’s explanation on the matter as the letter written by Mr. Bandaranaike appeared in the media.

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