Katchatheevu: China fast distancing India from neighbours 

Sri Lanka PM visit to China (Image credit X @ChinaEmbSL)

Sri Lanka PM visit to China (Image credit X @ChinaEmbSL)

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China makes fast forays in Sri Lanka, Nepal & Maldives

By Manish Anand

New Delhi, April 2: The Tamil Nadu unit chief of the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) K. Annamalai has an image of a rookie brash saffron apparatchik. The AIADMK had singularly blamed Annamalai for breaking an alliance with the BJP last year.

Senior BJP leaders also admit that Annamalai is brash and brazen. But they explain that he’s the best bet for the BJP to ride the rough waters of Dravidian politics in Tamil Nadu. Each visit of Prime Minister Narendra Modi to Tamil Nadu triggers a social media trend of ‘GoBackModi’.

Annamalai sought information under the Right to Information Act (RTI) on Katchatheevu. Annamalai requested specific information on a background note of the Centre of 1961 and details of interaction between the foreign secretary and the chief minister of Tamil Nadu in 1974 on Katchatheevu.

Before his Meerut rally, it was Tamil Nadu from where Modi had launched the poll campaign of the BJP. He spent five days in the southern parts of the country. The BJP aims to win 60 Lok Sabha seats from the southern states. Annamalai, a former IPS officer, is a candidate from Coimbatore Lok Sabha seat.

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Former diplomat Nirupama Rao in a post on X said: “We are lighting fires under the bilateral relationship unless we have a clear plan of action here and Sri Lanka is reassured here that our domestic political altercations do not cast a long shadow on our ties with that country.”

Two days ago, coinciding with Modi adding his weight to Katchatheevu RTI report, Sri Lanka revealed that the island nation is still infatuated with China. Sri Lankan Prime Minister Dinesh Gunawardena on Sunday said that China will develop the strategic Hambantota Port and the Colombo Airport. Gunawardena said that Chinese premier Li Qiang also assured him to restructure debt.

A month ago, Sri Lanka had denied permission to China to dock a ship widely known as a spy and surveillance vessel in its waters. China found an anchor for the ship in the Maldivian waters. China and Maldives have entered into a strategic pact. Mohammed Muizzu, President of Maldives, is reportedly replacing Indian strategic presence with Chinese military assets in the Indian Ocean archipelago.

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Nayaran Kaji Shrestha, deputy prime minister of Nepal and foreign affairs minister, returned after a nine-day long visit to China on Monday. He proposed to Wang Yi, Chinese foreign minister, a proposal for building Nepal-China Economic Corridor.

Shrestha said, “China has shown interest in developing corridors to boost trade linkages with Chinese provinces of Tibet, Sichuan, and Chongqing.”

Modi in the middle of his election campaign went to Thimpu last month. He paid a bilateral visit to Bhutan within a week of the Bhutanese Prime Minister Tsering Togbay returning back from New Delhi. Diplomatic perspective spotlighted the speed with which China is moving to bring border dispute with Bhutan to a closure at a risk to the strategic Silliguri Corridor of India. China is also pressing Bhutan to agree to full scale diplomatic ties.

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Bangladesh Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina is challenging the ‘boycott Indian goods’ campaign. “Will you burn sarees of your wives and also stop using the Indian spices,” Hasina has been reported telling the crowds in Bangladesh.

Rough winds blowing in South Asian nations suggest that Modi’s ‘Neighbour First’ policy is now stuck in the dragon’s jaw. Annamalai may just be incidental. The BJP’s opening of an account in Tamil Nadu Lok Sabha seats as per Chennai-based political commentators will be a big feat.

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