Ignoring demands from Tamil Nadu political parties for a total boycott of the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting (CHOGM,) External Affairs Minister Salman Khurshid arrived here on Wednesday for the meeting.
India remained committed to the welfare of Sri Lanka’s ethnic Tamils and would have to remain engaged with Colombo in the “enlightened national interest,” he told reporters accompanying him on a special IAF aircraft. Putting conditions such as India must not have anything to do with Sri Lanka would make things untenable.
He said though he was in Colombo to attend a multilateral conference and not for a bilateral engagement, he would have the opportunity on the sidelines of the CHOGM to convey India’s concern to Sri Lanka on issues such as devolving more powers to Tamils and attacks on Indian fishermen.
On the unanimous resolution passed by the Tamil Nadu Assembly on Tuesday demanding a total boycott of CHOGM by India, Mr. Khurshid said he was “perplexed” by the demand. “We are doing a lot for Tamils of northern areas in Sri Lanka. We are involved in a big project of building 50,000 houses [in war-ravaged areas], laying roads and erecting infrastructure. Nobody is saying you should not be doing this .If we are not here, how can we be doing these things. Therefore, I am perplexed by the people who say we should not go to Sri Lanka. I find this logic somewhat... My job is to look into and represent in India’s enlightened national interest,” he said.
Asked about the inability of Prime Minister Manmohan Singh to visit Colombo, especially to honour the invitation of the newly-elected Chief Minister of Northern Provincial Council C V Wigneswaran, he wondered how would the Tamil Nadu Chief Minister and politicians of the State would have reacted if a similar invitation was given to them.