These days, George Soros is a contentious figure in India. This is due to a comment made by eminent businessman George Soros, who criticised Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi. Jayashankar, the foreign minister of India, also strongly criticised Soros’s assertion. Even though India is a democratic nation Modi is not democratic according to Soros. Jeyshankar, said Soros’ criticism comes from the Euro-Atlantic view point.
Soros is a well-known businessman in USA and has stirred up controversy in India by criticising Prime Minister Modi and businessman Adani. In 2016, Soros visited Sri Lanka. Ranil Wickremesinghe, the country’s former prime minister, invited him to attend an economic summit in Sri Lanka. In a speech to the parliament on November 5, 2015, Prime Minister Ranil announced that he had extended an invitation to billionaire businessman George Soros to visit Sri Lanka. The JVP vigorously refuted Ranil’s assertion.
Anura Kumara, the leader of the JVP, claimed in parliament that Soros was directly to be blamed for Malaysia’s economic crisis in the 1990s. According to Anura, Mahathir Mohamad, a former Malaysian prime minister, also claimed that Soros was to blame for the country’s economic collapse. Not only Anura but also the joint opposition led by Rajapaksa stated that Soros shouldn’t be brought to Sri Lanka. When Rajapaksa and the JVP united to oppose Soros’ visit to Sri Lanka, widespread demonstrations were successfully organised. The cabinet was also knew the opposition outside.
President Maithripala was informed of this anti Soros campaign prevailed at that time. The SLFP cabinet members requested Maithripala to halt Soros’ trip. However, according to Prime Minister Ranil, Soros’s arrival is a major victory for Sri Lanka and a boost to the country’s economy. To attend the Sri Lankan Economy Summit, Soros travelled to Sri Lanka. The summit took place on January 7, 2016. A speech from President Maithripala Sirisena was also planned for the summit. Maithri made the decision not to attend the conference after learning that the JVP and the joint opposition had mobilised a strong national opposition to Soros. At the time media report on Soros’ visit is provided below.
“It is in the midst of this that Soros attended the high-level economic forum in Colombo on January 7, at which President Sirisena was also expected to deliver a speech.”
“By this time, President Sirisena was aware of all negative images of Soros and was already having second thoughts about attending the opening ceremony of the economic forum.” However, after having consultations with Sri Lanka Freedom Party Ministers in the Cabinet and several other parties of whom the majority believed that the President should attend the opening ceremony, President Sirisena finally decided to make an appearance.
“However, he informed the organizers that he would be there only for ten minutes. Keeping his word, the president was there only for ten minutes and left without making a speech, even though there was one scheduled.
It was Prime Minister Wickremesinghe who was in touch with Soros from the beginning and it seemed like President Sirisena had no hand in this infamous multi-billionaire’s visit to the country. Soros who had no chance to share cordialities with President Sirisena due to his quick exit however, managed to garner a one on one meeting with the President the next day when all first anniversary celebrations were scheduled for.
President Sirisena, with much reluctance, however offered to meet Soros at the Presidential Secretariat in the morning on 8 January, as he was advised by many to do so. However, the drama unfolded only after agreeing to the meeting.
As soon as the Prime Minister’s Office got to know there was a one-on-one meeting scheduled between President Sirisena and Soros, Wickremesinghe through his officials informed that he too will be attending this meeting.
They convened this meeting at around 7 p.m. on 7th night and as soon as the President got to know this bit of information he was annoyed. However, known for his ability to guard his feelings President had not given a hint of being angry about this ‘arrogance’ shown from the side of the Prime Minister.
He attended the function to launching the ceremony of Janapathita Kiyanna programme at the Presidential Secretariat, the first of such range of events and programmes held to celebrate the first anniversary of his being in office.
By the time Soros had arrived and was waiting at one of the rooms until President Sirisena arrived for the meeting and news about his visit was also conveyed to the President.
Officials, who had no idea about what was coming, were caught completely off-guard when President Sirisena refused to go down for the meeting. He in fact told officials to inform that he will not be attending the so-called ‘one-on-one’ meeting between the two which would also be attended by Premier Wickremesinghe.
Repeated attempts by officials to convince the President to meet Soros as it would reflect negatively on the Head of the State and the country alike was not paid heed to by Sirisena who adamantly informed officials to convey to Soros that it was enough for him to meet with the Prime Minister.
Officials who approached Soros who waited at the Presidential Secretariat for about 30 minutes apologetically informed him that Prime Minister Wickremesinghe was also planning to come but was unable to make it at the time thus the meeting would not take place.
However, in what seemed like a patch up to what took place earlier, Prime Minister Wickremesinghe arranged a luncheon meeting between President, Soros and himself at the Cinnamon Grand Hotel at which the President attended after Prime Minister Wickremesinghe personally invited him.
The meeting was made completely closed door with the interpreter of Soros who is allegedly suffering from unilateral hearing loss being sent out. According to speculations, Soros had given a message not to the liking of Wickremesingh”
Soros left Sri Lanka in great discomfort following those occurrences. According to sources, the Sri Lankan president embarrassed Soros. Ranil, the prime minister, was also humiliated by it. The coalition government led by Maithrie and Ranil was beginning to crumble as Soros’ visit came to an end.