Hectic efforts were underway on Monday by the government to reach out to those opposing Prime Minister Manmohan Singhs participation at the upcoming CHOGM summit in Sri Lanka. According to sources privy to the discussions,a proposal being looked at revolves around the PM making a stop-over in Jaffna,or even meeting the newly-elected Chief Minister in the Northern Provincial Council C V Wigneswaran and other leaders of Tamil National Alliance in Colombo.
Meanwhile,while Tamil parties have been opposing PMs participation in the CHOGM summit,two more Cabinet ministers from the Congress said that he should not attend the CHOGM summit in view of alleged atrocities against ethnic Tamils. Minister of State in the PMO V Narayanswamy and Environment Minister Jayanthi Natarajan came out openly to oppose the Prime Ministers visit,joining their Cabinet colleague G K Vasan.
With the External Affairs minister Salman Khurshid and top South Block officials leading the last-minute efforts to convince key members of the government and the party to allow Singhs visit to take place,Delhi also reached out to the Sri Lankan establishment through a condolence message.
It was Manmohan Singh who sent a message to Sri Lanka Monday on the demise of Gamani Corea a Sri Lankan diplomat and economist of international repute. Singh,who called him a friend of three decades,said that Gamanis death was a loss not only to Sri Lanka but to Asia and the world.
Since Singh has received an invitation to visit Jaffna,South Block is seizing this opportunity to make a case for a stop-over in northern province.
Delhi is also looking at the fact that Wigneswaran is also attending the inauguration ceremony of the CHOGM summit. So,there is a possibility of meeting him in Colombo,if the PM goes to attend the summit.
I have conveyed my opinion to the Prime Minister that he should not visit Sri Lanka, Narayanasamy said.
Representing Pudducherry which has substantial Tamil population,he said majority of Congress ministers and MPs from Tamil Nadu do not want the Prime Minister to participate in the CHOGM summit.
Echoing similar sentiments,Natarajan said in Chennai that she would write a letter to the PM urging him not to attend the summit. With the atrocities against Tamils in Sri Lanka and the sentiments of people in Tamil Nadu,I hope the Prime Minister will take a good decision, she said.
However,at the same time,another Congress leader from Tamil Nadu S Natchiappan,who is Minister of State for Commerce,has been striking a different note. He said the PM should visit Sri Lanka for the welfare of the Lankan Tamils.