Prime Minister Manmohan Singh on Sunday wrote to Sri Lankan President Mahinda Rajapaksa expressing regret for not being able to attend the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting (CHOGM),reports said.
In PM’s absence,External Affairs Minister Salman Khurshid will head the Indian delegation at the CHOGM Summit to be held in Sri Lanka on November 15-16.
Singh has written a short letter to Rajapaksa informing him of his decision not to attend the Commonwealth Heads of Government Summit (CHOGM),sources said.
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The letter will be delivered to the Sri Lankan President by the Indian High Commission in Colombo,the sources said.
However,it is believed that the letter does not talk about the reasons for Singh skipping the meet.
The Prime Minister has decided against undertaking the visit in view of the opposition by parties in Tamil Nadu as well as a section in Congress.
As reported in The Indian Express on Saturday,the PM has been under pressure within the Congress and from Tamil parties not to attend because of Sri Lanka’s alleged violation of human rights of Tamils there.
Karunanidhi welcomes PM’s decision
DMK President M Karunanidhi on Saturday welcomed Prime Minister Manmohan Singh’s decision not to take part in the Commonwealth Summit in Sri Lanka in view of opposition by political parties in Tamil Nadu and said it came as “some consolation”.
However,Karunanidhi,who has been against India’s participation in the CHOGM,citing Sri Lankan Tamils issue,dubbed as ‘debatable’ External Affairs Minister Salman Khurshid leading the Indian delegation.
“It is some consolation to us that at least the Prime Minister has given respect to our voice and is not attending the Summit,” he told reporters.
Political parties in Tamil Nadu and several other outfits have opposed India’s participation at any level in the CHOGM meet alleging that the Sri Lankan government had committed gross violation of human rights and had no plans to devolve powers to the ethnic Tamils.
The Tamil Nadu Assembly had also passed a unanimous resolution opposing India’s participation in CHOGM.
Khurshid favours Singh’s presence
However,Khurshid has been favouring Singh’s presence in the CHOGM scheduled on November 15,maintaining that it was vital as it will reflect India’s interests. According to MEA,it is also paramount to the nation’s strategic and security interests.
Khurshid,set to represent India,was going to Sri Lanka in any case for the CHOGM foreign ministers meeting on November 14. He was leading the Ministry of External Affairs’ efforts to ensure the PM’s visit. The MEA on Saturday,however,chose to steer clear of the controversy,saying no decision has been taken.
(With PTI inputs)