Asian Age Correspondent
New Delhi/Chennai, 18 March 2013. India is most likely to vote against Sri Lanka when the US-sponsored resolution against the island nation comes up for voting at the United Nations Human Rights Commission in Geneva later this week, reliable sources have said.
They said the Congress core committee decided to back the US resolution at a meeting at the Prime Minister’s residence late on Friday night after finance minister P. Chidambaram briefed members on the rising tempers in Tamil Nadu, his home state, particularly in the volatile student community that is agitating for firm Indian action against Colombo.
The agitation — over alleged war crimes by Colombo in the final phase of the Eelam war in 2009 and later human rights violations in the island — had been largely peaceful so far, but might flare up if India backed the Sri Lankan government in Geneva, he warned.
Backing Mr Chidambaram, Congress president Sonia Gandhi told the committee publicopinion must be taken into account while formulating sensitive foreign policy decisions, sources added. The committee had invited external affairs minister Salman Khurshid to brief it on the implications of various options for India at UNHRC.
Defence minister A.K. Antony, home minister Sushilkumar Shinde and Ahmed Patel, political secretary to the Congress president, were present as core committee members.
The core committee authorised Mr Khurshid to make an announcement in Parliament either on Monday or Tuesday, the sources said, adding the minister promised he would make the decision known to Parliament as soon as it was made.
Sources said the Congress leadership was more worried over the rising heat in student agitations than the threat by DMK president M. Karunanidhi that he would pull out of the UPA government if India does not seek effective amendments to strengthen the US resolution.
The DMK threat was interpreted as “more of tokenism” as many in the Congress believe Mr Karunanidhi might, at worst, pull out his ministers and announce “outside” support by his 18 MPs. “What worries us more is the growing anger of students, which threatens to turn into a wave-like situation. They are voters in 2014”, said a Congress leader.
In a dramatic announcement in Chennai, DMK president M. Karunanidhi served a virtual ultimatum on Sunday on the Congress-led UPA-2 government, saying his party will not continue in the government if “appropriate and necessary” amendments were not incorporated in the US-sponsored resolution on Sri Lanka at UNHRC.
Reiterating his earlier stance, he said: “Continuance in the Congress-led UPA-2 will be doubtful and it is certain the DMK will not continue in the Central government”.
Speaking to reporters at the DMK headquarters, he urged the Centre to include a clause in the resolution that genocide and war crimes on Tamils had been committed by the Sri Lankan Army and administrators. “There is no point in continuing the alliance if the Centre fails to move amendments to the US-sponsored resolution,” he said.
The DMK wants such amendments to incorporate its demand for an international probe and time-bound action against those found guilty of war crimes in Sri Lanka.
Mr Karunanidhi also shot off letters to Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and Congress president Sonia Gandhi, saying he felt “let down” by the “lukewarm” response of the Centre on the issue.
External affairs minister Salman Khurshid, speaking on the sidelines of a function at Farrukhabad, said: “We are not politicising the matter, we want the Sri Lankan government to help Tamils recover from their wounds. We feel there should be a transparent probe.”