India skips UN vote on Lanka, upsets TN parties

  • KV Lakshmana, Hindustan Times, Chennai
  • Updated: Mar 28, 2014 11:37 IST

Dravidian parties and pro-Tamil organisations are livid after India abstained from voting on a United Nations resolution against Sri Lanka which sought an international investigation into the alleged war crimes during the final phase of the island's civil war which ended in 2009.

However, Union finance minister P Chidambaram told reporters at Chennai airport on Friday "personally I feel India should have supported the resolution."

Read: Sri Lanka frees India fishermen after UN vote abstention

He added that the Congress took a neutral stand at UNHRC's Geneva session by abstaining from vote on Sri Lanka and alleged there is no unanimity among parties in Tamil Nadu on the resolution against Sri Lanka.

The implication of this decision on the fate of the Congress party in the 2014 general elections can best be gauged from the reaction of Viiduthalai Chirutaigal Katchi's Tiruvallur constituency candidate N Ravikumar.

"Since Congress is isolated, it is on a suicide mission in Tamil Nadu," he said.

VCK is an alliance partner of the DMK.

India had on Thursday joined 11 other countries that abstained from voting on a UN Human Rights Council resolution in Geneva calling for a probe into alleged war crimes by Sri Lanka.

Read: Sri Lanka claims moral victory from war crimes vote .

However, the resolution was adopted with 23 voting in favour and 12 against.

The 47-member UNHRC accepted the resolution presented by the US on behalf of countries, including Britain.

Similarly, the leader of Tamizhaga Desiya Koottani, a pro-Tamil organisation, Sambandham said "we are very angry and upset that India did not vote against Sri Lanka".

Initial reactions from the two Dravidian majors the DMK and the AIADMK were similar, except AIADMK was more aggressive in its outrage against New Delhi.

"We are extremely upset. India should have voted against Sri Lanka. New Delhi has betrayed," said DMK spokesperson TKS Elangovan on a private television channel.

AIADMK leader and former state finance minister C Ponnaiyan alleged that New Delhi was constantly indifferent to Tamils and Tamil sentiments.

"So it was not surprising that it helped the Sri Lankan government of its friend Rajapakse by abstaining," he said.

Ponnaiyan was only echoing the sentiments of his leader and Tamil Nadu chief minister J Jayalalithaa who had demanded that India move a resolution at UNHCR and strengthen the US resolution against Sri Lanka.

She has raised this issue at every public meeting during her campaign for the general elections. This coupled with the Tamil fishermen issue form a highly emotive situation in Tamil Nadu and she paints the Congress and the DMK with the same brush on this.

Last week, she had written a letter to Prime Minister Manmohan Singh demanding that India must take a strong stand against Sri Lanka at the Geneva UNHRC conference.

Leaders of other political parties were not readily available for comments.

A political analyst said on condition of anonymity that the silence of big leaders, couple of hours after the voting, was surprising.

Tamil Nadu was by and large peaceful with no visible protests reported anywhere in the state, at the time of writing this report.

While rejecting the resolution, India said it ignores the efforts at reconciliation being done by Sri Lanka in the predominantly Tamil north, including holding of elections.

Contrary to what was widely expected to be a repeat of earlier moves of backing the UN resolution, India said it "cannot go along with the resolution and will abstain on the resolution under consideration".

This was for the first time since 2009 that India abstained from voting on the resolution - "Promoting reconciliation, accountability and human rights in Sri Lanka".

India had in 2009, 2012 and 2013 voted in favour of the resolutions.

(With IANS inputs)

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