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HindustanTimes Fri,22 Aug 2014

UPA govt in dilemma over CHOGM in Sri Lanka

Agencies  New Delhi, November 02, 2013
First Published: 12:19 IST(2/11/2013) | Last Updated: 14:24 IST(2/11/2013)

The three-day Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting (CHOGM) at Sri Lanka has put the Congress and the Prime Minister in a Shakespearean dilemma—to be or not to be (read to participate or not to participate).

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Many South Indian political parties and even Congress leaders from Tamil Nadu have demanded that India should boycott the CHOGM event.

If Prime Minister Manmohan Singh attends the meet, he not only risks rubbing some of his ministers the wrong way but also the possible political alliances which the Congress may badly need in the face of the Modi challenge during the 2014 battle of ballots. The issue majorly concerns the sentiments of the Tamils who blame the Sri Lankan government for mistreating Tamils on its land.

In March, the DMK had quit the United Progressive Alliance (UPA) government at the centre, voicing its dismay over the Indian government's policy on Sri Lanka.

In fact, the issue of human rights violations in Sri Lankan has forced Prime Minister of Canada Stephen Harper to boycott the meet  in protest against Sri

Lanka's failure to hand human rights violations there. Incidentally, for the first time in 40 years Queen Elizabeth II too will not be present at the meet. Her absence too will be noticed as she is Head of State of the UK and 15 other Commonwealth realms.

However, UPA is trying to play safe on the issue of its own ministers’ opposition to Prime Minister’s visit to Sri Lanka during the CHOGM meet, which begins on Novemember 15 and concludes on November 17, 2013.

Finance minister P Chidambaram on Friday sought allay fears and said," I am aware that some ministers were opposed to Prime Minister's participating in CHOGM.
We are aware of that. It's the decision that the government will take. There is still time to take that decision…I think the ministry of external affairs spokesperson has already said that the process of decision-making is on and the decision will be taken."

Recently, Congress leader and union shipping minister GK Vasan had urged the Prime Minister that India should boycott the CHOGM keeping in mind the sentiments of Tamil Nadu parties.

The Prime Minister informed that he would act keeping the sentiments of people of Tamil Nadu in mind over Sri Lanka.


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