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Lanka’s refusal to uphold Rajiv-Jayawardene accord stopped PM in his tracks

The stringent stand taken by the Congress core group, which was articulated by finance minister P Chidamabaram, clearly stated that during the PM’s slated visit, Sri Lanka president Mahinda Rajapaksa should assure that his government was going to uphold the Rajiv Gandhi-JR Jayawardene accord, signed between the two nations in 1987. The lynchpin of the accord is 13th amendment, which promises devolution of powers to the provincial governments. Chidambaram, as a ‘rising star’ in Rajiv Gandhi government, was one of the movers of the accord.

Rajapaksa, on his part, during the course of the bloody civil war, promised a ‘13th amendment plus.’ However, after crushing the rebel LTTE in 2009, he went back on his word and started  pushing forward a new line, ‘13th amendment minus.’ The 13th amendment refers to the changes made in the 1978 constitution of Sri Lanka, following Rajiv-Jayawardene accord, which was signed in July 1987. The amendment was carried out in November 1987.

‘If Rajapaksa would have agreed to give an assurance on implementing the13th amendment during the visit, it would have helped Congress gain an upper hand in negotiating an electoral deal with the prospective alliance partners in Tamil Nadu. With no such promises forthcoming from the Lanka government, the loss from the visit when weighed against the gain was huge,’ said a senior Congress leader.

Congress – which is without a partner in Tamil Nadu at present, with the DMK having walked out of the UPA in March this year – did not want to harm its chances in the state, which sends 39 MPs to Lok Sabha. ‘In 2014, each of the seat is going to count,’ added the Congress leader.
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