Describing Sri Lankan President Mahinda Rajapaksa’s visit to Madhya Pradesh as a non-political event, Chief Minister Shivraj Singh Chauhan has urged Marumalarchi Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (MDMK) general secretary Vaiko to “call off” his protest.

President Rajapaksa is scheduled to visit the ancient religious town of Sanchi in Vidisha district on Friday to lay the foundation stone of the Sanchi University of Buddhist and Indic Studies. The scheduled visit has evoked strong protests from Tamil groups, most notably the MDMK, which holds Mr. Rajapaksa responsible for the continuing plight of Tamils in Sri Lanka.

In his letter, Mr. Chauhan urged Mr. Vaiko to regard the event as a constructive step towards promoting peace and harmony across countries of Asia.

“The setting up of the Sanchi University is an attempt to bring the civilisations of Asian countries closer [and] will promote cross-pollination of ideas between ancient Indian thought and the thriving Buddhist culture in various countries of Asia,” Mr. Chauhan wrote.

The Chief Minister also said that in order to set up a truly international university and for achieving the desired goals, invitations had been sent to the Heads of States and dignitaries of Bhutan, Myanmar, Thailand, South Korea, Japan, Sri Lanka, Mangolia, Cambodia, and Nepal.

“The Prime Ministers of Bhutan and President of Sri Lanka have accepted our invitation for the foundation laying ceremony,” Mr. Chauhan wrote, adding that Bhutan Prime Minister Lyonchen Jigme Yoser Thinley has even confirmed his participation.

“Close friendship”

Referring to his “close friendship” with Mr. Vaiko and the MDMK general secretary’s “contribution to the political and social fabric of India,” Mr. Chauhan said the State government and the BJP stood firmly for “the human rights enshrined in the Indian Constitution and in the United Nations Universal Declaration of Human Rights.”

“The State government’s support and sympathy shall always lie with the countrymen, including Tamils living within India or in foreign countries,” he said.

Earlier this month, Mr. Vaiko had written to Mr. Chauhan, requesting him not to hurt the sentiments of Tamils by inviting Mr. Rajapaksa to the event. Mr. Vaiko blamed Leader of the Opposition in the Lok Sabha and Vidisha MP Sushma Swaraj for inviting the Sri Lankan President.

However, Ms. Swaraj distanced herself from the row saying Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, and not she, had invited Mr. Rajapaksa.

Mr. Vaiko has announced he would visit Sanchi with “busloads of protesters.”