In an “unqualified apology”, the Lankan government said the article was published “without proper authorization. The article doesn’t reflect our government’s official position.”
The statement came after Ms Jayalalithaa wrote to PM Modi urging him to summon the Lankan envoy and seek an apology for the article on the Lankan Defence Ministry website titled “How Meaningful Are Jayalalithaa’s Love Letters to Narendra Modi”. It had a morphed image of the Chief Minister and Mr Modi in a heart-shaped thought bubble.
“The visual is objectionable as it depicts the PM and CM in a derogatory manner. It also attempts to cause fissures within India’s federal politics,” said the Chief Minister.
The article, which threatened to snowball into a diplomatic row, has now been removed.
Though it came with a disclaimer, the article has touched a raw nerve among parties who bristled at Mr Modi’s invitation to Lankan President Mahinda Rajapaksa to his swearing in ceremony in May.
Regional parties in Tamil Nadu accuse Mr Rajapaksa of presiding over the killing of civilians in the final stages of the war against the Tamil separatist outfit LTTE. It is a political minefield in the state where assembly elections are due in 2016.
Mr Modi’s ally PMK said the article was in poor taste. “They degrade Prime Minister Modi and Chief Minister Jayalalithaa. The Centre should demand an apology from the Lankan president and Defence Secretary. India should call the Lankan High Commissioner,” PMK Chief Ramadoss raged.
The opposition Congress also called for an apology.