India doesn't expect UPFA to fall: Kadirgamar

Updated on Feb 14, 2005 05:08 PM IST

The Lankan Foreign Minister said that India is not expecting United Peoples' Freedom Alliance government to fall.

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PTI | ByPK Balachanddran, Colombo

India is not expecting the minority United Peoples' Freedom Alliance (UPFA) government in Sri Lanka to fall, says Sri Lankan Foreign Minister, Lakshman Kadirgamar, just back after talks with Indian leaders in New Delhi.

"The Indian leaders are not at all contemplating the fall of the Government in Colombo. We all have to live with minority Governments. Coalition Governments are the order of the day. India itself has had minority Governments. It has memories of hung Parliaments, Kadirgamar told Hindustan Times on Friday.

According to hard boiled journalists in New Delhi, India itself could be heading for a hung Parliament this time," he added.

The Sri Lankan minister was asked if the Indian leaders were worried about the prospect of political instability in Sri Lanka after the minority United Peoples' Freedom Alliance (UPFA) government was defeated in the election of the Parliament Speaker and which could face more such defeats in the months to come.

About the Indian view of the radical-Marxist Janatha Vimukthi Peramuna (JVP), the new force in Sri Lankan politics which is part of the UPFA Government, Kadirgamar said, "India is beginning to digest the advent of the JVP and understand its meaning in the emerging political scenario here."

He told the Indian leaders that the JVP had its views on federalism and devolution of power to the Tamil province, but it had agreed to "go along with the consensus" on this issue.

India is keen on federalism and devolution of power to the minority Tamils in Sri Lanka but the JVP is not. Kadirgamar said that he had "very, very positive" meetings with the Indian Foreign Minister Yashwant Sinha and the Principal Secretary to the Prime Minister, Brijesh Mishra.

"Mishra told me more than once that I should tell President Kumaratunga that India would work with her Government wholeheartedly," Kadirgamar said.

The main objective of his trip to New Delhi was to tell the Indian leaders that there was a "major attitudinal change" in Sri Lanka, in regard to India.

"I was at pains to bring out the fact that every section, including the JVP, the LTTE and the Buddihst monks, want India to play a role or get involved in the peace process. India's relations with Sri Lanka are strong and this situation is indeed irreversible, " Kadirgamar said.

Even the LTTE has changed. "It has resurrected the Mother India concept and has been saying that there can be no lasting solution without India's involvement," Kadirgamar pointed out.

"This being so, mere declarations of support for Sri Lanka's unity and integrity and a just solution, will not suffice. India will have to take a closer look. This time, I found India beginning to move towards an involvement," Kadirgamar said.

Though it was too early to discuss what kind of role India should play, he could see that the Indians were interested in participating in the rehabilitation and reconstruction of the Tamil North East, "through the Sri Lankan Government or with the concurrence of the Sri Lankan Government."

Kadirgamar said, unlike the Western countries, India and Sri Lanka thought that economic development should not wait for the peace process to succeed, though both Colombo and New Delhi were eager to kick start the peace process.

The Parliamentary elections in Sri Lanka had sent a strong message that Governments would ignore economic development of the poor at their own peril, Kadirgamar pointed out.

Asked if the Indian leaders were worried about some aspects of the LTTE's proposal for an Interim Self Governing Authority (ISGA) in the North Eastern Province, which were violative of Sri Lanka's sovereignty in many ways, Kadirgamar said that the ISGA was not discussed.

But India did say formally (in the official communiqué) that it stood for the unity, integrity and sovereignty of Sri Lanka and that it hoped that a just solution, acceptable to all sections of Sri Lankan society, and guaranteeing democracy, pluralism and human rights, would be found through an internal political process

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