TAMIL NADU

Centre urged to send MPs' team to Sri Lanka

The CPI (M) on Thursday urged the Central government to send a delegation of Members of Parliament, representing all political parties, to Sri Lanka to study the situation and facilitate quick rehabilitation of Tamils who had suffered in the civil war.

Talking to reporters, State secretary of the party G. Ramakrishnan welcomed the Centre's decision to send a senior official of the Ministry of External Affairs to Sri Lanka, but felt that the issue should be dealt with politically.

“Let the official go. The Indian government should use the diplomatic channels to speed up the rehabilitation of Tamils, who are still in the camps. At the same time a team of MPs should be allowed to visit the country to assess the situation.”

Asked whether the team members should be from Tamil Nadu or include MPs from other States too, he said it would be good if a majority of them were from the State.

The party's MP, T.K. Rangarajan, who was present at the press conference, said there was a huge difference between sending an official and sending a team of Parliamentarians. “The MPs can interact with the people and various Tamil groups and understand their problems better.”

Stressing the need to find a political solution to the ethnic problem in Sri Lanka, Mr. Ramakrishnan said ensuring autonomy to Tamil regions within the framework of the Sri Lankan Constitution was the need of the hour.

Talking about the political situation in Tamil Nadu, Mr. Ramakrishnan accused the DMK government of becoming increasingly intolerant in the face of criticism.

“Whether it is Uthapuram, where Dalits are facing discrimination, or the suspension of IAS officer C. Umashankar, the attitude of the government is totally intolerant,” he said and adding that CPI(M) leaders too were facing threats from the ruling partymen in Madurai. The party had already submitted a petition to the Director General of Police, drawing her attention to the threats faced by the CPI (M) leaders.

Mr. Ramakrishnan said his party would run a campaign between August 22 and 29 across the State “to highlight the anti-people economic policies of the DMK government in Tamil Nadu and of the Congress-led UPA at the Centre and their adverse impact on the lives of the poor.” The campaign would culminate into public meetings in Chennai, Cuddalore, Salem, Thanjavur, Kovilpatti and Madurai on August 31.

Mr. Ramakrishnan rejected the claim of Chief Minister M. Karunanidhi that only 3,21,000 consumers were affected by the recent hike in power tariff, saying the report of the Chairman of the Tamil Nadu Electricity Board in 2007-08 had clearly stated that over 24 lakh customers in the State were consuming more than 600 units in two months.

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