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Congress undecided on CHOGM

New Delhi, Nov 8 (): Congress Core Group, with party president Sonia Gandhi heading it, met today to take a final decision on whether Prime Minister Manmohan Singh should attend the CHOGM ( Commonwealth Heads of Government ) scheduled to be held in Colombo next week. The meeting discussed the issue for more than one hour and later said a decision is likely to be announced soon.

The ruling party in Congress is finding itself in a tight spot as Tamil parties have been firm in their opposition to the Indian Prime Minister’s visit to Sri Lanka given the concerns on the plight of Tamilians in the island nation. However, the external affairs view is that Prime Minister’s non appearance at the CHOGM could dent India’s image internationally and will seriously affect India’s relationship with Sri Lanka.

As per sources, the Core Group had discussed the same issue last month also but did not arrive at a consensus after P.Chidambaram and A K Antony objected to PM’s Colombo visit. Later three other cabinet ministers, V Narayanasamy, Jayanthi Natarajan and G K Vasan, have publicly said about their opposition to the Prime Minister’s participation.

As a compromise formula, the PM’s program will also include a visit to Jaffa in northern Sri Lanka where a few developmental schemes will be inaugurated. The province is predominantly inhabited by Tamilians. The Congress, yesterday, said it has left the decision to Prime Minister Manmohan Singh on the issue keeping in mind national interests.

Political parties and various pro Tamil outfits in Tamil Nadu are strongly opposed to India attending CHOGM and Tamil Nadu Assembly had recently adopted a unanimous resolution, demanding New Delhi to totally boycott it and also take steps to get Sri Lanka suspended from the Commonwealth till it guaranteed equal status for Tamils. Congress in Tamil Nadu will get isolated if PM attends CHOGM as no political party will have an alliance. In last election DMK faced a twin attack on the 2G scam and its aligning with Congress seen as pro Sri Lanka. Sources say that if PM attends the meet then G K Vasan who is already feeling sidelined by the High Command might quit the Congress and revive TMC using CHOGM as a pretext.