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Lankan envoy summoned

india Updated: Oct 18, 2008 00:15 IST

Fourteen DMK members of the Lok Sabha, including two ministers and five ministers of state, handed in post-dated resignations to party chief M Karunanidhi on Friday evening. Earlier, the three DMK Rajya Sabha MPs had similarly resigned as well.

The resignations, intended to pressure the Centre to exert a restraining influence on the Sri Lankan government in its war against the LTTE, showed the DMK was serious about implementing the resolution passed at the all party meeting on Tuesday. The all-party meeting — called at the DMK’s initiative but boycotted by the AIADMK — had decided to give the Centre a two-week ultimatum to intervene with the Lankan government.

The resignations were accordingly all dated October 29. They are addressed to the Lok Sabha Speaker and Rajya Sabha chairman as required.

Most MPs flew in from Delhi, where they had been attending the first day of the winter session of Parliament, and, led by shipping minister TR Baalu and communications minister A. Raja, drove directly to the party office. The only DMK MP who did not accompany them was estranged former minister Dayanidhi Maran.

“We do not want to destabilise the Manmohan Singh government,” chief minister Karunanidhi claimed at a press conference while announcing the resignations. “Our sole intention is to help the beleaguered Tamils in northern Sri Lanka who are facing the brunt of the Sri Lankan army.”

Karunanidhi’s daughter Kanimozhi was the first Rajya Sabha DMK member to put in her papers on Wednesday. “Our action is not aimed at helping the LTTE,” said Karunanidhi. “It is only to protest the attacks on Tamil civilians.”

The support of the DMK’s 15 member group is crucial to the Congress led UPA’s survival at the centre. Likewise, in Tamil Nadu the DMK, with just 95 seats, needs the outside support of the Congress to maintain a majority in the 234 member assembly. The Tamil Nadu Congress, with 10 Lok Sabha MPs, has also endorsed Tuesday all party resolution.

In New Delhi, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and External Affairs Minister Pranab Mukherjee expressed concern over the Tamil civilian casualties during the last two days.

Foreign Secretary Shivshankar Menon summoned Sri Lankan High Commissioner Chrysantha Romesh Jayasinghe to express the government’s concern over the situation.

On Thursday, Mukherjee said, “The situation in Sri Lanka is a matter of grave concern to us in India.” The PM said New Delhi believed the “situation… calls for negotiated political settlement which … respects the essential human rights of minorities, particularly Tamil minorities.”