Prime Minister Manmohan Singh is expected to skip next week’s Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting (CHOGM) in Sri Lanka due to stiff opposition from major political parties in Tamil Nadu and also his colleagues from the state.
Congress sources told HT that it would be “very difficult” for the PM to participate in the meet given the strong sentiments against the visit. A formal call, however, would be taken in a day or two. The summit is scheduled to be held in Colombo from November 15 to 17.
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.