Senior Congress Ministers express reservation over PM attending meet: VCK

India through its boycott of the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting (CHOGM) can isolate Sri Lanka and rope in friendly countries to vote against handing over the Commonwealth Chairperson-in-Office (CIO) to its President Mahinda Rajapaksa, said Viduthalai Chiruthaikal Katchi (VCK) leader Thol. Thirumavalavan.

Addressing a demonstration organised by his party against India’s participation, he said once Mr. Rajapaksa assumed the office of the Chairperson it would be extremely difficult to subject him to any international inquiry for his alleged war crimes against the Tamils.

Mr. Thirumavalavan described as an “exaggerated imagination” that India’s boycott would affect the bilateral ties between the two countries. “There are many differences between India and Pakistan and these differences never come in the way of bilateral relationship between the two nations.”

He said even senior Congress Ministers, including G.K. Vasan, Jayanthi Natarajan, V. Narayanasamy had expressed reservations over Prime Minister Manmohan Singh participating in CHOGM. Union Finance Minister P. Chidambaram had made it clear that no final decision had been taken on Prime Minister’s visit.

Mr. Thirumavalavan said BJP leaders, including Subramanian Swamy and Venkaiah Naidu, were insisting on India’s participation because they wanted to put pressure on the Congress in the State.

“Probably the Congress may take a decision in favour of Tamils if it can win more seats in Tamil Nadu in the Lok Sabha polls. But it cannot think of such a prospect in the near future,” he said.

The Dalit leader criticised External Affairs Minister Salman Kurshid for speaking in favour of attending the conference when the Prime Minister himself had not indicated his stand.

Asked about Sri Lanka’s Northern Province Chief Minister C.V. Wigneswaran’s invitation to Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, Mr Thirumavalan said the Tamil leader had invited him to Tamil areas and not to the CHOGM.

Real issue

PMK leader S. Ramadoss on Tuesday said the debate whether Prime Minister Manmohan Singh should participate in CHOGM had deliberately been brought to the centre stage to overshadow the real issue concerning Sri Lankan Tamils and their rights.

“The debate is nothing but a diversionary tactics. The real issue is the crime against the Tamils in the last leg of the civil war and an international inquiry against Mr. Rajapaksa for his alleged role,” Dr Ramadoss said in a statement.

He said Tamils across the world was keen on a referendum to know the stand of Tamils on creation of a separate Tamil Eelam and their aspiration could be fulfilled through India’s boycott of CHOGM.

Dr. Ramadoss said Indian government had bailed out Sri Lankan government from every crisis in the past and now was seeking to create an impression that interests of Tamils would be served by Prime Minister staying away from the conference.

“Prime Minister’s absence is not enough. India should totally boycott the meeting and take steps to expel Sri Lanka from the Commonwealth,” he said.

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