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Updated: October 23, 2013 04:44 IST

More Congress leaders oppose Manmohan’s participation in CHOGM

B. Kolappan
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K.V. Thangkabalu
The Hindu K.V. Thangkabalu

However, Natchiappan says participation key to instil confidence in Sri Lankan Tamils

More Congress leaders in Tamil Nadu are opposing Prime Minister Manmohan Singh’s participation in the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting (CHOGM) scheduled to be held in Sri Lanka.

It was Union Shipping Minister G.K. Vasan who first raised the issue and subsequently met the Prime Minister and made a strong case for shifting the venue of CHOGM out of Sri Lanka, citing what he called the anti-Tamil stand of the Sri Lankan government.

Now, former TNCC president K.V. Thangkabalu has asked for a State Assembly resolution urging the Prime Minister to keep away from the conference. The Assembly session begins on Wednesday.

“I have already written a letter to the Prime Minister and will meet him soon to present my case,” Mr. Thangkabalu said in a statement.

“State should pass resolution”

He said it would serve the interests of Tamils better if the State Assembly passed a resolution that would reflect the overwhelming sentiment among political leaders and the general public against India’s participation in the Colombo meet.

“Even though four years have elapsed after the civil war in the country came to an end, there was no effort to empower the Tamils even after their representatives have been elected to power,” Mr. Thangkabalu said.

Former Congress MP Peter Alphonse said India should take into consideration the sentiments of the seven crore Tamil population before deciding on participating in the CHOGM meet.

“A country’s foreign policy cannot be formulated by ignoring a substantial section of the population,” he said, adding that India should take into confidence the newly elected Tamil representatives on this matter.

However, Union Minister of State for Commerce and Industry E.M. Sudharsana Natchiappan said India’s participation was important to instil confidence in the mind of the Tamil community in Sri Lanka.

“If India stays away from the conference, it will be easy for the Sri Lankan President Mahinda Rajapaksa to shirk his responsibility of devolving powers to the Tamils,” he said.

“PM should visit Tamil areas”

Mr. Natchiappan suggested that before attending the CHOGM conference, the Prime Minister should visit the Tamil areas and see for himself the rehabilitation process.

“It will be of great moral and emotional support to the Tamils,” he said.

Tamil National Alliance (TNA) leader R. Sampanthan, who is in Chennai, said he did not agree with the general view that Dr. Singh’s visit and his speech among the leaders of the Commonwealth would help in bringing about a change in the situation in Sri Lanka.

He also said the help extended by the Indian government had not fully reached those who deserved it. Mr. Sampanthan met BJP state president Pon. Radhakrishnan and senior leader L. Ganesan on Tuesday. He said he would also meet leaders of political parties and seek their support for the Sri Lankan Tamil cause.

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