India’s CHOGM quandary: Congress Core Group meet ends

The Congress Core Group, headed by party president Sonia Gandhi, met on Friday to take a final decision on whether Prime Minister Manmohan Singh should participate in Commonwealth Heads of Government (CHOGM) scheduled to be held in Colombo next week.

Zee Media Bureau/Ajith Vijay Kumar

New Delhi: The Congress Core Group, headed by party president Sonia Gandhi, met on Friday to take a final decision on whether Prime Minister Manmohan Singh should participate in Commonwealth Heads of Government (CHOGM) scheduled to be held in Colombo next week.

The meeting deliberated over the issue for more than one hour and a decision is likely to be announced shortly.

The ruling party is finding itself in a tight spot on the issue as Tamil parties have been resolute in their opposition to the Indian Prime Minister’s visit to Sri Lanka given the concerns on the plight to Tamilians in the island nation.

However, there is also a view that Prime Minister`s absence at the CHOGM could affect India`s image internationally and will seriously dent India’s relationship with Sri Lanka.
As per reports, the Core Group had discussed the issue last month also but failed to arrive at a consensus after Union Ministers P Chidambaram and A K Antony expressed reservations about PM’s Colombo visit. Three other Union ministers, V Narayanasamy, Jayanthi Natarajan and G K Vasan, have publicly opposed the Prime Minister`s participation.

As a compromise formula, the PM’s itinerary may also include a visit Jaffa in northern Sri Lanka which is predominantly inhabited by Tamilians.

The Congress, yesterday, said it will back whatever decision Prime Minister Manmohan Singh takes on the issue keeping in mind national interests.

Political parties and various outfits in Tamil Nadu are strongly opposed to India`s participation in CHOGM and Tamil Nadu Assembly had recently adopted a resolution demanding New Delhi completely boycott it and also have Sri Lanka suspended from the Commonwealth till Colombo ensured equal status for Tamils.

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