Sri Lanka's Election Commission Chairman Nimal Punchihewa on Monday refuted claims of India's ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) planning to set up a political unit in Sri Lanka. It said, the country's electoral law does not permit any such arrangement.
The development comes after Tripura CM Biplab Deb said Amit Shah, when serving as BJP president, had told party leaders that the BJP would establish rule in other regional countries as part of 'Atmanirbhar South Asia' initiative. Deb said the BJP deeply valued the South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC) partnership.
"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," Punchihewa told reporters.
Punchihewa's comments came after media reports quoted Tripura Chief Minister Biplab Kumar Deb as saying that the BJP was planning to extend its footprint in Sri Lanka and Nepal.
Interestingly, last year, President Gotabhaya Rajapaksa's brother, Basil, had said he envisioned modelling the ruling Sri Lanka Podujana Peramuna either on the lines of the BJP or the Communist Party of China.
With PTI Inputs