Colombo, Aug 17: As voting gets underway in the all-important election in Sri Lanka which could decide the fate of Mahinda Rajapaksa now contesting for the post of Prime Minster, the first results are expected by mid-night on Monday.
As the election process gets underway, New Delhi watches closely and would hope that it is the Sirisena-Wickremasinghe combine which continues to rule Sri Lanka.
This is an interesting election as probably for the first time, President Maithripala Sirisena would hoping his party loses. The reason, his one time friend-turned-foe, Rajapaksa is contesting for the post of Prime Minister after he was defeated in the presidential poll eight months back.
For Rajapaksa, this is an all important election. He was ousted as the President of Sri Lanka after he lost an election 8 months back. Interestingly, he and Sirisena are from the same party and the latter may be hoping that Rajapaksa from his own party loses the elections.
Political analysts in Sri Lanka say that Sirisena may be hoping that the opposition wins the elections. Sirisena would prefer working with the opposition as he feels it would be a better bet. In the case of Rajapaksa, it is a case of pride and prestige. He would want to avenge his defeat as President to Sirisena.
The election also sees another clash of egos between Sirisena and Rajapaksa. Sirisena who had tried his best was not successful in ensuring that Rajapaksa was denied a ticket to contest the elections.
New Delhi watches closely:
For New Delhi, this is a very important election. It has not had the best of relationships with Rajapaksa. The relations have more of less been blow hot blow cold with Sri Lanka when Rajapaksa was the President.
Rajapaksa has often been accused of not addressing the issue of Tamils. Moreover, his proximity with China was of much concern to New Delhi. India has many times expressed concern about the growing influence of the Chinese in the Indian Ocean.
With the Sirisena- Ranil Wickremasinghe combine, India felt more at ease and it was felt that they had a more open foreign policy.
Polling is currently underway and will end by 4 pm. The counting is scheduled to commence shortly after polling ends. The first results of the polls is expected to be announced at mid-night.