‘PM being persuaded to attend Lanka meet’
Even as some sources within the Congress party said on Friday that prime minister Manmohan Singh will not attend the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meet (CHOGM) in Colombo, minister for external affairs Salman Khurshid said he feels Singh should go.
‘If I am supporting our participation in CHOGM and trying to persuade PM to attend the meet, I must be doing it because that is my understanding of national interest. If my colleagues are opposing it, it is either their understanding of national interest or their local concern. Be that as it may, they have a right to say what they are saying and we have a duty to do what we are doing.
Ultimately, the best decision will be taken. That is what the PM has said. It will happen now in the next couple of days. The only decision is that I am going, and a decision for the PM to go or not will be taken,’ Khurshid said in an answer to a question on the raging controversy.
On the vehement opposition to PM’s visit coming from within the union cabinet including senior members like finance minister P Chidambaram, Khurshid said: ‘In all fairness to Mr Chidambaram, he hasn’t spoken publicly (about this), but I understand that people have sensed that he has a position. Other leaders have spoken publicly so you know what their position is.
Vasan and others have spoken about it. They have said so and I respect them for the position they are taking, based on their understanding of ground reality there. But then I have a job to do and a duty to fulfill and I am trying to do it to the best of my ability.’
On the contentious issue of the implementation of the 13th amendment of the constitution by the Lankan government, the minister said: ‘The 13th amendment was part of the implementation of the Indo-Sri Lanka accord which is really about the provincial powers of the northern province. But there is a major debate going on currently in Sri Lanka whether to decentralise or not. We are pushing for this because we feel that unless there is ample decentralisation of power in that country, the aspirations of the Sri Lankan Tamils will not be fulfilled. This is best for Sri Lanka also.’