No consensus on House resolution on Sri Lanka

Students raise slogans during a protest against Sri Lanka for alleged war crimes in Chennai on Wednesday. Photo: S.R. Raghunathan   | Photo Credit: S_R_Raghunathan

The all-party meeting called by Lok Sabha Speaker Meira Kumar on Wednesday evening to seek a consensus on the government’s draft resolution on Sri Lankan Tamils failed: if the text did not go far enough for the DMK and the AIADMK, the BJP, the Samajwadi Party and the Janata Dal-United all said they were opposed to a country-specific resolution.

The BJP had pointed out earlier that if India had objected to the resolution passed on the Afzal Guru issue, it would not be proper for it to pass one on Sri Lanka in Parliament.

Earlier in the day when journalists asked Finance Minister P. Chidambaram why the government was pursuing a resolution on the Sri Lankan Tamil issue now that the DMK had quit the UPA, he said the government’s move had nothing to do with its former ally. Instead, he stressed that since every political party represented a section of public opinion — there were Tamils not just in Tamil Nadu, but in other parts of the country, as well as the diaspora — it was important to be sensitive to Tamil sentiment, and that could be “reflected only through a resolution”.

Information and Broadcasting Minister Manish Tewari also added to this, underscoring the fact that it was part of the government’s duty to highlight the feelings of the people of a State.

The government’s primary concern on Wednesday was to send out the message that the UPA regime is stable and in command, capable of taking decisions. And that was the line taken by its political managers a day after the DMK — and its 18 MPs — withdrew support from the Central government. But simultaneously, in an effort to demonstrate its solidarity with the Tamils of Sri Lanka, the government stressed it will ask India’s Permanent Representative to the UN to move oral amendments to the US-sponsored resolution on Sri Lanka, which will be voted on in Geneva on Thursday, and persuade all political parties to pass a resolution in Parliament, too, on the subject.

Answering accusations that the government had helped to dilute the US-sponsored resolution denouncing Sri Lanka for human rights abuses at the UNHRC in Geneva, Mr. Chidambaram said, “India’s position has always been — and remains — that the UNHRC should adopt a strong resolution that would send a resolute message to Sri Lanka and goad Sri Lanka to accept an independent and credible investigation.”

Prime Minister Manmohan Singh was briefed by top officials on the US-sponsored resolution shortly after Mr. Chidamabaram — on behalf of the government — announced it would move amendments to the final draft text.

Meanwhile, as the Bahujan Samaj Party reiterated its promise to continue backing the government, the Samajwadi Party, however, created suspense, with its chief Mulayam Singh saying its Parliamentary Board will meet on Thursday morning to take a view.

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Printable version | Jun 14, 2021 4:04:04 AM |

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