His stand runs counter to TNCC chief’s take on the issue
Senior Congress leader G.K. Vasan on Saturday criticised the invitation extended to Sri Lankan President Mahinda Rajapaksa to attend the swearing-in of Narendra Modi as Prime Minister, saying the decision had angered the people of Tamil Nadu.
His comment came as a dissenting note in the State Congress, which has avoided speaking against Mr. Rajapaksa’s participation in the May 26 event.
Only on Thursday had TNCC president B.S. Gnanadesikan said friendly relations with the island-nation were of strategic importance to India and dialogue with Mr. Rajapaksa was essential to protect the rights of the ethnic Tamils in Sri Lanka.
In a statement, Mr. Vasan said it was not acceptable to allow the participation of Mr. Rajapaksa in the swearing-in just because the leaders of the SAARC countries had been invited. Sri Lankan Presidents had never been invited to such an event in the past, he pointed out.
“Keeping in mind the continued denial of rights to Sri Lankan Tamils and the persistent attacks on the fishermen of Tamil Nadu and their arrest by the Sri Lankan government, the invitation should have been avoided,” Mr. Vasan said.
Pointing to Northern Province Chief Minister C.V. Wigneswaran turning down the invitation of Mr. Rajapaksa to join him in attending the swearing-in, the Congress leader said the Sri Lankan President’s presence at the function would cost the new government the trust of the people of Tamil Nadu.
The outgoing Shipping Minister recalled the UPA government’s decision to vote in favour of a resolution against Sri Lanka in the United Nations, and Prime Minister Manmohan Singh’s decision not to attend the Commonwealth meeting in Colombo last year.
On the other hand, he said, Mr. Modi’s decision to have Mr. Rajapaksa in the event showed that he did not respect the sentiments of the people of Tamil Nadu.