PM`s decision to skip CHOGM draws Sri Lankan media attention

Prime Minister Manmohan Singh`s decision not to attend the CHOGM summit is drawing a lot of media attention in Sri Lanka.

PTI| Updated: Nov 13, 2013, 15:15 PM IST

Colombo: Prime Minister Manmohan Singh`s decision not to attend the CHOGM summit here is drawing a lot of media attention in Sri Lanka.

English language newspapers here also carried stories of `boycott` of the summit by Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper and Mauritius Prime Minister Navin Chandra Ramgoolam citing "poor human rights record" of Sri Lanka.

Last week, Singh called off plans to attend the summit after pressure from political parties in Tamil Nadu, including from his own Congress party, not to attend the summit in view of the sentiments in the state.

But no specific reasons were given for his decision except to say that it was not always the prime minister who represented India at the CHOGM summits.

Singh wrote to Sri Lankan President Mahinda Rajapaksa about his inability to attend the meet.

Incidentally, the story on Pakistan Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif`s scheduled arrival here tomorrow is carried with big headlines.

Sri Lankan External Affairs Minister GL Peiris himself has sought to downplay the decision of some heads of government to skip the event saying it was not likely to impact the success of the meet.

"Why are we obsessing with who is not coming to CHOGM in Sri Lanka. Why are we glossing over who is here participating with enthusiasm," he told a press conference here.

Asked if the Indian Prime Minister had provided reasons for his decision to skip the summit, Peiris said it was not incumbent upon the governments to provide reasons for absence in multilateral events.

Government-owned `Daily News` paper had an elaborate article on Singh skipping the summit titled "India needs to fight the enemy within".

The full-page article says India at least had the honesty, unlike the "hypocritical" Harper, not to paint Singh`s non-attendance in "some bogus" human rights concerns.

"India simply expected Sri Lanka to understand the unsophisticated nature of domestic politics there that necessitated the decision," the article said.

It later goes on to dwell on various topics and level unsubstantiated allegations against various Indian leaders.

Interestingly, privately-owned "The Island" newspaper carries a front-page story, the lead item, that Harper`s representative to the summit Deepak Obhrai, MP and Parliamentary Secretary to Ministry of Foreign Affairs, yesterday laid flowers at the Elephant Pass cemetery on his way back from Jaffna.

It quotes an unnamed senior government official alleging that the flowers had been for those who died fighting for the LTTE, a proscribed organisation in Canada.

The newspapers have also taken note of the Tamil Nadu Assembly`s resolution demanding complete boycott of the summit by India.