Karunanidhi reiterates demand for ceasefire in Sri Lanka


Chennai : Tamil Nadu Chief Minister M. Karunanidhi Tuesday once again called for a ceasefire in Sri Lanka despite most of the opposition parties boycotting an all-party meet called to discuss the plight of minority Tamils in Sri Lanka.

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“We will continue to demand the declaration of a ceasefire in Sri Lanka and start of political negotiations between the island’s government and the Tamil minority there… (but) will not embarrass the centre through mass resignations of our MPs or withdrawal of support to the United Progressive Alliance government,” Karunanidhi told reporters.

“As part of our endeavour to end the strife in Sri Lanka and alleviate the sufferings of our Tamil brethren there, we have resolved that all MPs from the state will meet Prime Minister Manmohan Singh on Nov 28.

“Further, on Dec 4, I will lead a delegation of legislators from the state to request the centre’s networking Sri Lanka to agree to our demands,” Karunanidhi added.

The demands, a press statement said, comprises urging the central government to pressurise Sri Lanka for a ceasefire and start of negotiations for a political solution to the issue.

S. Ramadoss, founder leader of the PMK, attended the meeting.

Other main opposition parties, including the AIADMK, Communist Party of India (CPI), Communist Party of India – Marxist (CPI-M), MDMK and DMDK, stayed away from the meet, despite being invited, officials said.

Leader of Opposition J. Jayalalitha had dismissed the meet by terming it “yet another farce by the minority (DMK) regime”.

Independent political observers felt that the Lankan tangle was being used by the ruling DMK to strengthen its government weakened by the exit of CPI, CPI-M, and the PMK from the DMK-led Democratic Progressive Alliance (DPA).

“With just 95 MLAs, the DMK regime depends mainly on the support of 35 Congress legislators that prop up the government in the 235-member house. Angered by DMK’s continued refusal to share power in the state and miffed over growing fissiparous tendencies here, the Congress is more of an opposition.

“Obviously, Karunanidhi wants some of his erstwhile DPA constituents like PMK back in his fold. The Lankan issue is a good ruse for that,” said political commentator Cho S. Ramaswamy.

The DMK government has the support of 131 lawmakers, including 35 from the Congress and 1 from VCK.

After the demise of one legislator from the MDMK, the resignation of another from the VCK and barring two nominated members, the opponents of the DMK government number 99, comprising AIADMK (60), PMK (18), CPI-M (9), CPI (6), MDMK (5) and DMDK (1) in the house that has a current strength of 233.

Karunanidhi Monday said that the urgent meeting had been called to discuss the “worsening situation of suffering Tamils of Sri Lanka”.

The PMK and MDMK have been demanding that Sri Lanka ensure that no member of the minority Tamil community in the country is killed during military action against the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE).

This is the second meeting of political parties called by Karunanidhi. The earlier meeting in October, demanding proactive action by India to force Colombo to halt military operations against Tamils and stop military aid to Sri Lanka, had resulted in a unanimous resolution by all political parties represented in parliament to resign from their seats by Oct 29.

Though all the MPs of the ruling DMK in Lok Sabha and Rajya Sabha had handed in their post-dated resignations to the chief minister, they were not forwarded to the relevant authorities following a meeting between Karunanidhi and External Affairs Minister Pranab Mukherjee Oct 26.

Sri Lankan President Mahinda Rajapaksa visited New Delhi earlier this month and ruled out cessation of the war against LTTE but promised to avoid killing of Tamil civilians and safeguard their interests.