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Govt split over PM's Lanka visit, DMK makes threats

india Updated: Nov 08, 2013 08:27 IST
Shekhar Iyer

The DMK may be compelled to review its “outside support” to the UPA government if Prime Minister Manmohan Singh went ahead with his decision to participate in the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting (CHOGM) on November 17, according to party circles.

DMK chief M Karunanidhi apparently conveyed as much to finance minister P Chidambaram (when he called on him on Saturday last) about the Prime Minister undertaking the visit “disregarding the sentiments of the Tamil Nadu people.”

P Chidambaram had later told reporters outside Karunanidhi’s residence that no decision had been taken by the Prime Minister in this regard.

Karunanidhi is said to have indicated that he would be forced to consider announcing snapping all ties with the Congress due to strong reactions in the state, DMK insiders said. Even though the DMK — with eighteen MPs — withdrew its ministers from the UPA government in March, it supported the Congress on the floor of Parliament.

P Chidambaram’s meeting with M Karunanidhi was against the backdrop of the DMK chief’s remark a day earlier that the Congress would “reap what it sowed” if India participated in the CHOGM.

Govt divided over PM attending CHOGM

A week ahead of the CHOGM in Colombo, the government is still divided on the level of participation and now the top Congress leadership is expected to take a call on Friday on whether Prime Minister Manmohan Singh should travel to Sri Lanka to attend the event.

Though the cabinet committee on political affairs discussed the issue on Thursday, the decision has been left to the Congress Core Group, headed by Sonia Gandhi, sources said.

The Congress party had earlier said the party would back the Prime Minister’s decision on whether to attend the meet or not in Colombo from November 15 to 17. The core group meeting also comes in the wake of some Union ministers and Tamil parties opposing Prime Minister attending the meet. The government is in a spot over the issue with some sections feeling that the Prime Minister’s absence at the CHOGM could affect India’s image internationally and New Delhi would also miss a chance to push for the cause of Tamil population there.

The issue was discussed last month by the core group and Union ministers P Chidambaram and AK Antony are learnt to have suggested that the PM should not attend the meet.

Union ministers V Narayanasamy, Jayanthi Natarajan and GK Vasan have publicly opposed the Prime Minister’s participation in the summit. Political parties and various outfits in Tamil Nadu are strongly opposed to India’s participation in CHOGM and Tamil Nadu Assembly had recently adopted a resolution demanding New Delhi completely boycott it.