Is 2016 TN poll stopping Modi govt from exploiting Sri Lanka vis-a-vis China?

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Is Modi govt afraid of exploiting Lanka?
The distance between India and its maritime neighbour Sri Lanka has widened over the past few weeks because of two issues. One, handing over death sentence to five Tamil fishermen by a court in Colombo and two, docking of two nuclear submarines at the Colombo port by the Chinese. According to international affairs experts, this is a move by Colombo to assert itself vis-a-vis the big northern neighbour.

The Indian political circle and the media have reacted to the developments. It's understandable that presence of Chinese military equipment in the south doesn't assure New Delhi but at a time when the new government led by Narendra Modi is asserting itself in South and South-eastern Asia, it is expected that Beijing will also play its part in the game of diplomacy. Is India overreacting? Is there is a sense of despair for New Delhi?

Why Modi has given Sri Lanka a miss so far? Political compulsion?

The Modi government that came to power on May 26 has so far done a commendable job in the foreign policy affairs. It has taken a special care of China and tried to get closer to various countries which are known to have conflicting or competitive relations with Beijing. In South Asia too, Modi visited the two small Himalayan countries of Bhutan and Nepal to bring them closer to New Delhi as a step to counter China. But the new prime minister somehow did not include Sri Lanka in his itinerary of nations that he visited with the China agenda. Was that a miscalculation or a deliberate ploy?

If New Delhi can't handle Lanka issue despite having a majority govt, then it's unfortunate

It seems the BJP government at the Centre has deliberately avoided Sri Lanka while winning allies vis-a-vis China. In that case, one must say it is unfortunate that even a majority government in New Delhi has its hands tied to get closer to Colombo as a plan to tackle Beijing because of the compulsion of elections.

The BJP has embarked on a mission to emerge the most dominant party in Indian politics and so far it has done a good job. But there are still tough electoral challenges the saffron party will meet in the next few years, one of them being the election in Tamil Nadu in 2016.

BJP will not be ready to lose whatever it has gained in Tamil Nadu

The BJP formed an alliance with six regional parties in Tamil Nadu, namely, the DMDK, PMK MDMK, IJK and KMDK ahead of this year's Lok Sabha election to counter powerhouses like the AIADMK, DMK besides the Congress. The move paid off with the BJP winning one seat and securing 5.5 per cent of the vote-share in a state where it was never relevant.

Modi knows the risk in Tamil Nadu

The party knows very well that being a beginner in Tamil Nadu, it doesn't have much freedom to manouver politically and toe the traditional lines. It is no wonder hence that even without the presence of a leader like Jayalalithaa at the central or even at the state level now, the Modi government is not willing to make brave steps on issues related to the Tamil sentiments. If it does so, there is every possibility of many of the local allies will dump it out of their own compulsion and even a Modi can't save it then.

It has a lot to gain in the state in two years time and particularly with Jayalalithaa being ousted from the chief minister's post, it will not be ready to carry risk while every other party is trying to make the most in Tamil Nadu politics at the moment. China policy thus can wait down south but not electoral stakes.

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