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India's vote against Sri Lanka not a letdown: Chandrika

Last updated on: April 10, 2012 17:48 IST

Former Sri Lankan President Chandrika Kumaratunga does not share the view that India's vote against Sri Lanka at the United Nations Human Rights Council was a "letdown" as she feels that there must have been "justifiable reasons" for the decision.

66-year-old Kumaratunga, who ruled Sri Lanka for 11 years from 1994, also accused the Mahinda Rajapaksa government of not fulfilling the promises made to India and other "friendly countries" with regard to addressing the political grievances of minority Tamils.V

She herself was a victim of the bloodshed unleashed by the LTTE for nearly three decades having survived an assassination bid with serious injuries. The former leader of the now ruling Sri Lanka Freedom Party feels that the vote will not have any impact on the Indo-Sri Lanka relations.

"I don't think it was a matter of letting down. India has supported us for a long time, not only this government, but many governments of Sri Lanka. It has been very supportive," she told PTI in an interview.

Kumaratunga, who fell out with President Rajapaksa during the 2010 Presidential Polls, was asked about the generally prevailing Sri Lankan view that the Indian vote was a let down.

India had voted in favour of the US-sponsored resolution at the United Nations Human Rights Council on May 23 that censured Sri Lanka for alleged human rights violations during the war with LTTE.

There has been criticism in Sri Lanka over the Indian vote with Foreign Minister G L Peiris saying domestic compulsions forced its hand while Power Minister Champika Ranawaka has been more vocal raking up other issues against New Delhi.

Kumaratunga said, "India (even) supported the government of Sri Lanka in another UN resolution in Geneva two years back. So for India having changed its mind this time, there may have been some justifiable reasons. India has been asking the government of Sri Lanka to give a political solution."

Asked whether non-fulfilling of promises by Sri Lanka might have forced India to vote against it, Kumaratunga replied in the affirmative. "It could have. India also has its own domestic compulsions like every other country has," she said.

This is the first public comment by Kumaratunga on India's vote against Sri Lanka.

The first woman president of Sri Lanka acknowledged that India had supported Sri Lanka under "difficult circumstances" and provided aid to the country for aseveral years.

The former president also said the Sri Lankan government should see the end of LTTE as a "window of opportunity" and address the political solution that would satisfy minority Tamils.

"India and many others have been (telling Sri Lanka to) give a political settlement to Tamil people and the government has publicly promised to India. But they don't seem to have kept those promises," she said.

E T B Sivapriyan in New Delhi
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