It is clear that considerations that are more political have weighed heavily on Dr. Singh’s decision to stay away from Colombo (Nov. 10). The Congress party, already battered by a slew of corruption cases and the challenge posed by Narendra Modi, does not want to lose the support of the regional parties in the event of its being in a position to form the next government. Ultimately in politics, it is power at any cost. Things like human rights are but pious platitudes.
A. Michael Dhanaraj,
To go or not to go was the question before India’s Hamlet. Unfortunately, it was decided that it was “not to be.” Shorn of all emotional trappings, which have been worked up to a frenzy, the pure and simple question is whether the Prime Minister’s presence would have had any adverse impact on the status of Tamils in northern Sri Lanka. If the meeting was to be held outside Sri Lanka, the “protesting vocalists” would have had no objection to his attending the meet.
It is disappointing that Dr. Singh, a strong votary of good neighbourly relations, has now backed off. Hadn’t he met Pakistan Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif in New York recently even though Islamabad had escalated violations of the ceasefire agreement on the Line of Control and which evoked political protests?
New Castle Upon Tyne, U.K.
The controversy over the Prime Minister’s participation in CHOGM, a low-key outfit, has only helped enhance its importance. The downslide in the Congress party’s standing in Tamil Nadu began during Indira Gandhi’s time. It will be no exaggeration to say that it has hit an all-time low now, thanks to a series of scams. Would Dr. Singh’s participation have affected his party in the polls as is being made out? Most probably not.
Though External Affairs Minister Salman Khurshid will represent India, Dr. Singh’s absence will rob Indian participation of its sheen. The government’s aside that “it is not necessary for the Prime Minister to attend every Commonwealth conclave” does not hold. The snub will certainly serve to belittle Lanka and adversely impact bilateral ties.
N.J. Ravi Chander,
India should have acknowledged the successful holding of elections in the northern province and attended the meet to find ways to further the interests of the Tamil community. If regional parties in Tamil Nadu are genuinely concerned about the Tamils in Sri Lanka, they would have asked Dr. Singh to use the platform of CHOGM to raise the issue of human rights.
Like the abrupt announcement of the formation of a Telangana State, the Prime Minister’s decision to skip CHOGM is aimed at benefits in the coming Lok Sabha election. But the political managers and think tanks of the UPA have failed to realise that in order to harvest a good yield, one has to sow good seed. By deciding to skip CHOGM on the ground that it will be against the sentiments of the people, the UPA has compromised India’s strategic interests and thereby conceded space to Pakistan and China.
We have once again demonstrated how easily national strategic interests can be sacrificed at the altar of political expediency. We have only ourselves to blame if we find new and strange neighbours in our southern backyard.
It is a masterstroke by Dr. Singh. His action will douse the anger of the regional parties in Tamil Nadu. He has not disappointed other Commonwealth nations either.
“Wisdom prevailed” and “disaster averted” are some of the usual phrases used by trade unions and political leaders when decisions are made to avoid mishaps. Dr. Singh’s decision not to attend the CHOGM richly fits these phrases. He has made a wise decision not to go. The policy on Sri Lanka has always been marked by confusion. It is time the Central government declared a policy that is completely neutral and one that will earn it the goodwill of most Tamils.