India welcomed Sri Lanka President Mahinda Rajapaksa’s announcement on elections in the Tamil-majority Northern Province, but asked him not to dilute the provisions of a promised political settlement known as the 13th Amendment plus.
This was conveyed to Mr. Rakapaksa’s younger brother Basil (Minister of Economic Development) when he met External Affairs Minister Salman Khurshid, besides the National Security Advisor and the Foreign Secretary, here on Friday.
The visit has raised much dust in Colombo and a Buddhist-Sinhala organisation protested before the Indian High Commission, decrying New Delhi’s insistence on giving political powers, such as control over the police to the Northern Province where Tamil nationalists are forecast to win easily if they take part in the elections.
Though the nuts and bolts of many bilateral tie-ups were discussed with the influential Sri Lankan Minister, Colombo had conveyed a day earlier that the main purpose of Mr. Basil’s visit was to inform India about his government’s plans to revisit the 13th Amendment or in other words dilute it by scrapping some of the powers promised to the provinces in the India-Sri Lanka Accord of 1987.
India also felt the Parliamentary Select Committee set up to take a look at issues relating to Constitutional reform must have all shades of opinion on board.
While the issue of giving powers to the Northern Province is the biggest political bone of contention between the two countries, Mr. Basil also tried to address the fishermen’s issue.