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Cong core group meets, dilemma over PM's Lanka visit continues

Source: PTI
November 08, 2013 14:24 IST
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Amid the political controversy over India's participation in the Commonwealth Heads of Government meet in Sri Lanka, the Congress top brass on Friday met to take a call on whether Prime Minister Manmohan Singh should attend the event.

A meeting of the Congress core group headed by party president Sonia Gandhi deliberated over the issue for more than one hour and a decision is likely to be announced shortly.

Political parties and various groups in Tamil Nadu are strongly opposed to India's participation in the summit and the Tamil Nadu assembly recently adopted a resolution demanding a complete boycott of the event alleging that Sri Lanka has indulged in atrocities against ethnic Tamils. The government is in a dilemma over the issue with some sections feeling that the prime minister's absence at the CHOGM could affect India's image internationally and hence he must participate.

The issue was discussed last month also by the core group and Union Ministers P Chidambaram and A K Antony are learnt to have suggested that the PM should not visit Colombo to attend the meet.

The Congress has so far refused to publically take a stand on the politically-sensitive issue. The party has said it will back whatever decision the prime minister takes on India's participation in the summit keeping in mind national interests. Union ministers V Narayanasamy, Jayanthi Natarajan and G K Vasan have publicly opposed the prime minister's participation in the summit.

The ministry of external affairs has been favouring Dr Singh's visit to Sri Lanka for CHOGM, maintaining that it was vital for him to be present at this meet as it will reflect India's interests and is also paramount to the nation's strategic and security interests. The officials are also keen that the prime minister takes the opportunity to visit Northern Province where India has given lot of assistance.

Chief Minister of Northern Provincial Council C V Vigneswaran has already written to Dr Singh, inviting him to Jaffna and expressed his gratitude for Indian assistance.

Meanwile, 21 pro-Tamil outfits pressing for India's non-participation in the November 15 have demanded that the state government declare a bandh on November 12 to mount pressure on the Centre over taking part.

The decision was taken after deliberations among various outfits, including Vaiko-led Marumalarchi Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam, May 17 Movement, Thanthai Periyar Dravida Kazhagam and Manithaneya Makkal Katchi.

The meet held on Thursday decided to resort to rail blockades to register their protest and also urged other political parties and student organisations to join them in the agitations.


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