Assembly passes resolution urging PM to skip CHOGM

Hours after the Tamil Nadu Assembly passed a resolution urging Prime Minister Manmohan Singh not to attend next month’s Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting (CHOGM) in Sri Lanka, South Block on Thursday did not officially give any indication of the Centre’s thinking.

However, speaking on anonymity, highly placed officials felt the legislators had missed a vital point — that there was a popularly elected government in the Tamil-majority Northern Province which should be given the leeway to negotiate greater autonomy and other issues with Colombo.

Sri Lankan High Commissioner Prasad Kariyawasam also said the Assembly was “uninformed” of the status of Tamils in his country and felt India would be isolated if it boycotted the summit because only Canada had announced its decision to stay away. But the onus of attending or not attending the CHOGM was on India.

Speaking to journalists, Minister of State in the Prime Minister’s Office V. Narayanasamy maintained the government’s stand, urging Sri Lanka to respond positively to the concerns raised by Tamil Nadu politicians, but he did not give any indication of chances of the Prime Minister going to Colombo. “The Prime Minister will weigh the pros and cons and then take a decision,” he said, pointing out that there was still ample time for the summit.

Officials here felt the Tamil Nadu legislators had not taken into account the fact that a major development in the form of elections had taken place in the Northern Province, which was the hardest hit in the conflict between the armed forces and the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam.

“The Tamil National Alliance had won the elections, getting almost 80 per cent of the vote. By this parameter, it represents the Tamils of the Northern Province adequately. Did the T.N. Assembly ignore this aspect due to a lack of information?” sources wondered.

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