Two more Congress ministers oppose PM’s participation in CHOGM

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New Delhi/Chennai, November 4:  Voices within the Cabinet grew louder against Prime Minister Manmohan Singh visiting Sri Lanka with two more ministers saying that he should not attend Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting (CHOGM) in view of the alleged atrocities against ethnic Tamils.

Minister of State in the PMO V. Narayanasamy and Environment Minister Jayanthi Natarajan came out openly to oppose the Prime Minister’s visit, joining their Cabinet colleague G.K. Vasan.

“I have conveyed my opinion to the Prime Minister that he should not visit Sri Lanka,” Mr. Narayanasamy told PTI.

Representing Pudducherry which has substantial Tamil population, he said majority of Congress ministers and MPs from Tamil Nadu do not want the Prime Minister to participate in the CHOGM taking place in Colombo later this month.

“Some ministers have met the Prime Minister insisting that he should not attend the meeting while few others have not met. But the majority opinion is that he should not visit Sri Lanka,” he said.

Echoing similar sentiments, Ms. Natarajan said in Chennai that she would write a letter to the Prime Minister urging him not to attend the Commonwealth summit.

“With the atrocities against Tamils in Sri Lanka and the sentiments of people in Tamil Nadu, I hope the Prime Minister will take a good decision,” she told reporters.

However, at the same time, another Congress leader from Tamil Nadu S. Natchiappan, who is Minister of State for Commerce, has been striking a different note.

He said the Prime Minister should visit Sri Lanka for the welfare of the Sri Lankan Tamils.

Some officials of the External Affairs Ministry also favour the Prime Minister’s visit.

“He (PM) should travel to Jaffna and other Tamil-dominated areas before reaching Colombo. Perhaps this is the demand of the elected government in the Northern region of the island nation,” said Mr. Natchiappan.

Earlier on Monday, as many 45 persons belonging to different pro-Tamil outfits were arrested for attempting to picket trains and bus-stand in nearby Tirupur and Udhagamandalam, demanding that India should not participate in the CHOGM scheduled in Sri Lanka this month.

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