A decision on whether Prime Minister Manmohan Singh would attend CHOGM is still pending, with the external affairs ministry saying on Saturday that India has not yet communicated to Sri Lanka on who is to attend the Commonwealth summit meeting in Colombo later this month.
External affairs ministry spokesperson Syed Akbaruddin said at a briefing here that “we have not yet communicated the outcome of our internal process (of decision making) and will make it known once it is communicated (to Colombo)”.
Congress sources told HT it would be “very difficult” for the PM to participate in the meet given the strong sentiments against the visit.
Critics of Sri Lanka say that Colombo committed “war crimes” against innocent Tamils during the final stages of the war that destroyed rebel group Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) in May 2009. Sri Lanka has also been accused of going back on promises to give autonomy to Tamil areas.
The issue of whether or not the PM should attend the Commonwealth meet came up for detailed discussion on Friday at a meeting of the Congress core group, an informal but important interface between the government and the party.
It is learnt that defence minister AK Antony and finance minister P Chidambaram expressed strong reservations against the visit.
A fresh appeal by DMK patriarch M Karunanidhi that Singh to “act according to his conscience” and boycott the meeting also weighed heavily on the Congress leadership.
Government sources said external affairs minister Salman Khurshid would represent India once the PM formally decides to stay away from the meeting.
Last month, Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper announced his decision not attend the meet to protest against Sri Lanka’s failure to probe its troops over allegations that they killed up to 40,000 civilians while defeating the Tamil rebels.