Invitation landed late

NEW DELHI, MAY 8. Invitations for the all-party meeting on the Sri Lanka issue convened by the Prime Minister this morning apparently reached many party leaders too late for them to attend although the decision to convene the meeting was taken on Saturday.

Mr. Somnath Chatterjee (CPI-M) and Ms. Jayanti Natarajan (Tamil Maanila Congress) said they received the invitations at their Delhi residences late on Sunday night (after 9 p.m.). Since they were away in their constituencies, Mr. Chatterjee was unable to attend, while Ms. Natarajan could join in only half-way through the meeting which started at 9.30 a.m.

The decision was taken by Saturday evening and confirmed to the media by the Prime Minister's Office. Despite this, the official invitations were sent 28 hours later. There was no official explanation for the delay.

``I had to ring my residence here up from Madurai, where I was, several times last evening to find out if the meeting was on and whether the TMC was invited,'' Ms. Natarajan, who is the parliamentary party leader of the TMC in the Rajya Sabha said. Even at 9.p.m., I was told that I was on the list of invitees but the letter was awaiting the signature of the Parliamentary Affairs Minister.''

She felt that on such a vital issue, and when the concern was especially keen in Tamil Nadu, MPs should have been informed in time.

Apparently, at the meeting today this matter was not raised, but party representatives did say that before taking any important decision relating to the Sri Lanka issue the Government must consult political parties. They suggested regular consultations during the crisis.