Ranil Wickremesinghe: Did not win a single seat in the election, yet became the Prime Minister of Sri Lanka, is close to India

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Sri Lanka’s new Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe, a lawyer-turned-politician, has been in Parliament for 45 years. Nearly two years after its United National Party (UNP) suffered a crushing defeat in the August 2020 general election and failed to win a single seat, it made a tremendous comeback. The 73-year-old leader, considered close to India, was appointed as the 26th Prime Minister of Sri Lanka by President Gotabaya Rajapaksa amid the worst economic crisis in the country. He is acknowledged in political circles as a man who can manage the economy with visionary policies. His appointment has filled a leadership void as Sri Lanka has not had a government since Monday, when Gotabaya’s elder brother and Prime Minister Mahinda Rajapaksa resigned following violent protests.

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build personal relations with India

Considered as a Sri Lankan politician, Wickremesinghe may take charge of international cooperation. He has held many important positions during his political career spanning four and a half decades. He built a personal relationship with Sri Lanka’s nearest neighbor India and visited the country on four occasions – October 2016, April 2017, November 2017 and October 2018 – during his previous term as prime minister. Prime Minister Narendra Modi made two visits to Sri Lanka during the same period and he also acted on a personal request by Wickremesinghe which proved to be extremely helpful during the Covid-19 1990s in helping Sri Lanka to set up an ambulance system.

had supported the agreement with India

Wickremesinghe backed the deal with India on the eastern terminal of Colombo port, which Rajapaksa rejected in 2020, despite opposition from the then President Maithripala Sirisena. His party UNP is the oldest party in the country which failed to win even a single seat in the 2020 parliamentary seat. He was left without a seat for the first time since 1977, but later reached parliament through the only national list allocated to the UNP on the basis of the cumulative national vote.

Prime Minister for the first time from 1993-1994

His deputy Sajith Premadasa split and headed the Samagi Jana Balvegaya (SJB) and became the main opposition. Wickremesinghe, the nephew of Sri Lanka’s first acting President Junius Jayawardene, was appointed Prime Minister from 1993-1994 for the first time after the assassination of President Ranasinghe Premadasa. He was also elected as Prime Minister from 2001–2004 when the United National Front government won the general election in 2001. But he lost power in 2004 after Chandrika Kumaratunga called for early elections.