Not anticipating that the DMK MPs would hand over a formal letter of withdrawal from the government as early as Tuesday night to President Pranab Mukherjee, the Congress managers had worked all evening to draft a resolution on the plight of Sri Lankan Tamils, to be moved in Parliament, in a bid to dissuade the southern party from quitting the government.
Taken by surprise, senior Congress leaders gathered shortly after at Prime Minister Manmohan Singh’s residence to review the situation: those present included Congress president Sonia Gandhi’s political secretary Ahmed Patel, Parliamentary Minister Kamal Nath and Foreign Minister Salman Khurshid.
But with the DMK’s T. R. Baalu, who led the delegation to the President on Tuesday, saying that the party ministers will put in their papers to the Prime Minister at 11 am on Wednesday, there did not seem much hope of reconciliation.
The draft, sources said, did not use words such as “genocide” while referring to human rights violations in Sri Lanka, or indeed the sort of language that the DMK had wanted. It was closer to the remarks that Congress President — and UPA chairperson — Sonia Gandhi had used in her speech to the general body meeting of the Congress Parliamentary Party on Tuesday morning.
At the meeting, she stressed that the plight of Sri Lankan Tamils “is very close to our hearts” and that support for their equal rights and equal protection has been “unwavering since the days of Indiraji and Rajivji”. She then went on to demand an independent and credible enquiry into the violation of human rights in Sri Lanka, even as she expressed concern for the plight of Indian fishermen detained by the Sri Lankan Navy. But clearly, this was not enough for the DMK.