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SL MPs to visit Delhi to meet Manmohan

However, Indian official sources say it's still not clear if the meeting will come through, reports PK Balachandran.

india Updated: Sep 19, 2006 03:47 IST
PK Balachandran
PK Balachandran

Sri Lankan Tamil MPs belonging to the pro-LTTE Tamil National Alliance (TNA) would be flying to New Delhi on Tuesday to await an appointment with the Indian Prime Minister Dr Manmohan Singh, TNA sources told Hindustan Times.

The MPs have been in Chennai for some days now, meeting a cross section of Tamil Nadu political leaders while waiting for a call from the mandarins of the Indian Foreign Office.

However, official sources in New Delhi said that it was still not clear if the meeting with the Prime Minister would come through.

Sensitive issue

They said that New Delhi would have to think of what such a meeting would mean for its relations with the regime in Colombo and its policy on the LTTE, because the TNA is but a proxy of the banned LTTE.

The sensitivity of the subject is so great that the Tamil Nadu Chief Minister, M Karunanidhi, has not met the TNA MPs despite three reminders about their request for an appointment.

It seems as if Karunanidhi prefers to see them after they had met the Prime Minister.

Or he might not see them at all, if the Prime Minister did not meet them.

Karunanidhi has not forgotten that it was his dalliance with the LTTE, which had cost him his government in 1990.

The DMK government led by him was sacked for alleged links with the LTTE.

The DMK's alleged links with the LTTE came up again in 1996, and shook the Central government.

A political source in Chennai told Hindustan Times that Karunanidhi was now busy grooming his son, Stalin, as his successor, and that he would rather not let the Sri Lankan Tamil issue spoil Stalin's chances.

Karunanidhi is also aware that his principal rival, AIADMK leader J Jayalalithaa, has categorically said that she will have no truck with the LTTE.

Need to meet TNA

However, despite the sensitivity of the issue, New Delhi would still like to engage the TNA, and through it get to the LTTE in an indirect and unofficial way.

This is the reason why the MPs were called in the first place.

Engagement with the TNA is considered necessary if India is to play a meaningful role in the Sri Lankan peace process, which is in a precarious state now.

At a seminar organised by the Institute of Defence Studies and Analysis (IDSA) in Bangalore recently, the general view was that India would have to shed its reserve and play a proactive role if the vacuum in Sri Lanka was not to be filled by a hostile force like Pakistan.

Indian strategic experts like B Raman have warned that if India is not watchful, Pakistan may strengthen its hold over the powers-that-be in Sri Lanka and turn the island into a place for carrying out its designs on South India.

First Published: Sep 18, 2006 19:38 IST