Eastern Province Governor Senthil Thondaman is currently on an official visit to India — his first overseas since his appointment in May.
Mr Thondaman has been meeting with an array of Indian dignitaries since his arrival and had talks with India’s External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar in New Delhi this week.
Among the topics discussed were developing air connectivity between Eastern Province and India, priority being given to Indian industries to set up factories at the Trincomalee Industrial Park, and allocating solar panels on Indian grants to 15,000 Eastern Province families without electricity. The talks also covered housing and livelihood programmes for the Sri Lankan refugees who have returned to Sri Lanka from India, according to a statement posted on Mr Thondaman’s official Facebook page.
It said the Governor had also held meetings with officials from power generation company NTPC, Alliance Air and Bharti Airtel.
Mr. Thondaman has been working hard to cultivate a strong relationship with India. His first visit after being sworn in as Eastern Province Governor was to India House, where he met Indian High Commission Gopal Bagley.
The new Governor’s pro-India conduct is in sharp contrast to that of his predecessor, Anuradha Yahampath, who strongly cultivated ties with China during her time as Governor. She was especially keen on expanding ties between the Eastern Province and China’s Yunnan Province. It was her continued efforts to further deepen these ties that eventually led to her removal from the post of Governor and a replacement was found from the ‘Tamils of recent Indian origin’ as the plantation workers were referred to.
Thus, the Eastern Province became a scene of a mini geopolitical contest. And interestingly, her successor has wasted no time in looking to cultivate similar ties with China’s geopolitical rival.
The Sunday Times, LK