The patriotic people of Sri Lanka won't allow any foreign political party to seize power in the South Asian country, Sri Lanka's cabinet spokesperson Udaya Gammanpila said on Tuesday.
Gammanpila said this while responding to India's Tripura state chief and BJP leader Biplap Kumar Deb's remark – who said the BJP plans to expand its footprint in Nepal and Sri Lanka.
The Sri Lankan politician also added that an official government reaction from Colombo will be forthcoming if India’s Home Affairs Minister Amit Shah backed up Deb’s claims.
Deb stoked the controversy further by saying Shah backs the BJP expanding its political base into neighbouring countries as part of the party’s Atmanirbhar (self-reliant) South Asia Initiative. He claimed Shah disclosed his support while serving as the party’s president.
The remarks triggered a wave of criticism from political opponents and social media users, with many pointing out the hypocrisy of the BJP, which has warned foreigners against meddling in the farmer's protests on Delhi's borders.
इन जैसे लोगों के बेवकूफी भरे बयानों की वजह से आज भारत के पड़ोसी देशों के साथ रिश्ते सबसे खराब दौर में पहुंच चुके हैं। pic.twitter.com/z4z00CmglL— Congress (@INCIndia) February 15, 2021
India’s opposition party scoffed at Deb's remarks and blamed the “irresponsible” statements for the "sorry state of affairs" between India and neighbouring countries.
On Monday, Sri Lanka’s Election Commission Chairman Nimal Punchihewa also took Deb’s remarks with a pinch of salt, saying that the country’s political system doesn't allow for foreign powers to set up regional offices.
“Any Sri Lankan political party or group is permitted to have external links with any party or group overseas. But our electoral laws do not permit overseas political parties to work here,” said Punchihewa.