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Lankan Tamils issue: Karunanidhi assures UPA

October 26, 2008 15:11 IST
Last Updated: October 26, 2008 21:46 IST

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The cloud of threat to the United Progressive Alliance government from the Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam over the Sri Lanka [Images]n Tamils issue lifted on Sunday as Chief Minister M Karunanidhi assured External Affairs Minister Pranab Mukherjee that he would not create any problem for the ruling alliance even as Sri Lanka assured India that safety of Tamilians in that country was being taken care of.

Urgent political message from Chennai

Karunanidhi's assurance in the wake of the October 29 ultimatum by MPs of DMK and its allies to quit on Lankan Tamils issue came at a meeting he had with Mukherjee in Chennai after UPA chairperson Sonia Gandhi [Images] spoke to the DMK chief on phone.

Emerging from the meeting with Mukherjee who was rushed to Chennai on a mission to mollify the DMK chief, Karunanidhi told media persons that the decision to issue the 15-day ultimatum resign from Lok Sabha was taken at an all-party meeting on October 14.

"However, some parties had second thought and we also have the second thought," he said.

Karunanidhi said Mukherjee 'did make a request to him not to precipitate a crisis for the central government and I assured him that I would not create any problem considering the present political scenario'.

Apparently playing down the ultimatum, which gets over in another three days, Karunanidhi said: "It is a 40-year-old problem and it cannot be solved in just four days."

Mukherjee, for his part, told the media that "the chief minister assured me that he will not precipitate any crisis for the UPA government."

When Karunanidhi's attention was drawn to the External Affairs Minister's remark, the chief minister said 'make your conclusions from Mukherjee's utterances'.

Mukherjee said India decided to send around 800 tons of relief material for the affected civilians in the northern part of that country and Colombo promised to facilitate its delivery.

DMK and its allies (barring Congress and Left parties) have 24 members in Lok Sabha out of a total of 39 members from the state to the House.

Emerging from the nearly one-and-a-half-hour meeting with Karunanidhi, Mukherjee said the chief minister had also emphasised the need to ensure a ceasefire but the External Affairs Minister ruled out a direct role for India in this.

"We were never part of the ceasefire (initiated by Norway) nor did we break it. So we cannot restore it," Mukherjee said.

"Our position (over the ethnic issue) is clearly known. Several times myself and the prime minister have pointed out that there is no military solution to the issue," he said.

Mukherjee's visit to Chennai to pacify Karunanidhi was preceded by the External Affairs Minister's talks with Sri Lankan President Mahinda Rajapaksa's special envoy and brother Basil Rajapaksa in Delhi [Images] where Colombo sought to allay New Delhi's concerns over safety of Tamil civilians in Sri Lanka's north in view the military offensive against the LTTE [Images].

A joint statement issued after Mukherjee-Rajapaksa talks said the Lankan envoy "assured that the safety and well-being of Tamil community in Sri Lanka is being taken care of."

Basil, who was sent to Delhi by the Sri Lankan President in view of concerns in India over the situation in Sri Lanka, said "every assurance we have given (to) look after the human behaviour needs and whichever we can".

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