Ministers asked to stay away from Dalai Lama felicitation


New Delhi : The government has issued a circular to its ministers advising them not to attend a function organised by a parliamentary forum to felicitate Tibetan spiritual leader Dalai Lama as it was “not in conformity” with the country’s foreign policy.

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According to sources, a circular issued by Cabinet Secretary K.M. Chandrashekhar has asked members of Prime Minister Manmohan Singh’s council of ministers to stay away from the function Saturday as it was “not in conformity with the foreign policy of the government”.

“And, therefore, you are directed not to accept the invitation,” the circular reportedly said.

The Indian government’s directive comes after the US defied the Chinese government’s warning that conferring the US Congressional Gold Medal to the Tibetan leader would “undermine” relations between the two countries.

The Tibetan leader, who has been in exile in India since 1959, is being felicitated by the Gandhi Peace Foundation, the All-Party Indian Parliamentary Forum for Tibet and the Core Group for Tibetan Cause upon receiving the US Congressional Gold Medal, the US’ highest civilian award.

Invitations for the programme were sent to almost all the ministers but none of them were present at the function.

Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper also received the Dalai Lama officially this Monday, becoming the first Canadian PM to do so and also drawing a strong protest from China.

The Dalai Lama’s office in New Delhi has not reacted to the missive by the Indian government yet.