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Pranab speaks To DMK chief before SL trip

Pranab Mukherjee, who is leaving for Sri Lanka, spoke to Tamil Nadu Chief Minister M Karunanidhi over phone and informed him about his visit to the island nation. MR Venkatesh reports.

india Updated: Jan 27, 2009 14:58 IST
MR Venkatesh
MR Venkatesh
Hindustan Times

As the ruling DMK in Tamil Nadu and the Congress-led UPA at the Centre of which the former is a constituent, carry forward their consensus on India’s approach to the humanitarian crisis in Northern Sri Lanka while shunning terrorism, External Affairs Minister, Mr Pranab Mukherjee had an important telephonic consultation with the Chief Minister, Mr M Karunanidhi, this morning.

Mr Mukherjee spoke over the phone to Mr Karunanidhi, who is presently under treatment at the Shri Ramachandra Medical College Hospital in suburban Porur after being admitted early on Monday for severe shoulder pain.

Both discussed the latest developments in Sri Lanka after which Mr Mukherjee informed the State Chief Minister that he was leaving for Colombo later this evening, official sources said.

Though the Prime Minister, Dr Manmohan Singh had in early December assured an all-party delegation led by Mr Karunanidhi to Delhi that he would send Mr Mukherjee to Sri Lanka to discuss the political and humanitarian crisis facing the Tamils there with the Rajapaksha regime, the DMK leader had been “disappointed” so far about no word on the Foreign Minister’s trip.

However, Mr Mukherjee officially confirming to Mr Karunanidhi about his visit to Colombo later this evening, has come as a big relief to the DMK leader who of late has been drawing flak from the stridently pro-Tamil parties in the State, some of which like the PMK are also a part of the UPA adding to the DMK-Congress’ discomfiture.

Moreover, the ground situation is worsening in Mullaitivu in North-West Sri Lanka where even an UN spokesperson on Monday had said “dozens of Tamils civilians” had been killed over the weekend there and about an estimated two lakh innocent Tamils caught in the battle area. Further, the Sri Lankan President, Mr Mahinda Rajapaksa’s latest invitation to Mr. Karunanidhi to come over to Sri Lanka and persuade the banned Tamil Tigers to lay down arms and surrender, has put more pressure on the DMK Chief.

Only last week Karunanidhi had made a “final appeal” to the Centre to intervene to redress the humanitarian crisis in Northern Sri Lanka and this was adopted as a resolution by the Tamil Nadu Assembly, which stressed on immediate declaration of a ceasefire first, followed by steps to find a political solution to the Tamils ethnic issue.

The Tamil United Liberation Front (TULF) President, Mr Anandasangaree in an open letter to Mr Karunanidhi, copies of which were circulated to media here, has also urged that, as the Island-Tamils ethnic problem has “reached a crucial stage” he (DMK leader) should accept the Sri Lankan President’s invitation to visit Sri Lanka, “to come and see for yourself as to what is happening.” In the backdrop of these developments, Mr Karunanidhi’s views conveyed to Mr Pranab Mukherjee before the latter’s departure to Colombo on Tuesday, is considered very significant by political circles in Chennai.

First Published: Jan 27, 2009 14:24 IST