India agrees to receive TNA delegationOctober 3, 2012, 12:00 pm
BY S VENKAT NARAYAN Our Special Correspondent
NEW DELHI, October 3: India has agreed to receive a delegation of Tamil National Alliance (TNA) parliamentarians, The Island understands from authoritative diplomatic sources here. The TNA delegation is likely to visit New Delhi on October 10. India has kept Sri Lanka informed about the impending visit.
The upcoming visit of the TNA MPs to the Indian capital assumes significance because it will take place within three three weeks after President Mahinda Rajapaksa met Prime Minister Dr Manmohan Singh and other Indian leaders here on September 20.
President Rajapaksa had briefed the leadership here on the efforts he is making towards a solution to the ethnic tangle through political consensus to be evolved through consultations in the Parliament Select Committee (PSC). He conveyed his keenness about the TNA’s participation in the PSC process to Dr Singh and his colleagues.
The TNA has not been enthusiastic about taking part in the PSC. India has been encouraging the Sri Lankan government and the TNA leadership to resolve the deadlock, and take the dialogue forward. New Delhi wishes to see both sides to work together with all other political parties to covert the progress made in the previous talks into a plan of action.
It is likely that Indian leaders and officials may persuade the TNA to participate in the PSC process and help evolve a formulation to solve the ethnic problem that will receive the backing of all political parties represented in the Sri Lankan Parliament.
Readers will recall that, in an interview to this correspondent during his visit to India along with President Rajapaksa last month, External Affairs Minister GL Peiris had stressed the need for the TNA to actively get involved in the PSC process.
Peiris had said that the previous governments had tried to solve the problem by adopting "top-down measures" but failed miserably, primarily because of the disconnect between the people and the decision-makers at the top.
"Our government wants to evolve a consensus on this issue through the active participation of all the parties in the confabulations of the Parliamentary Select Committee (PSC). Ideas must come from all the parties. There is a need for free and frank discussions to formulate the terms of reference," Peiris said.
Once the TNA is in, the opposition United National Party (UNP) too will join the process. There should be a general consensus. "The President is ready to do what is required once the PSC comes up with a set of proposals," he added.
"President Rajapaksa is keen on solving the ethnic tangle. We have called upon the TNA to engage itself in the PSC process. There is no alternative to the domestic process. Only the domestic process has the potential to deliver," Peiris explained.
The TNA wants the government to present to Parliament proposals based on its bilateral discussions with the Sri Lanka Freedom Party (SLFP) and get them passed because the government enjoys a two-thirds majority in Parliament.
The minister went on: "But we don’t want to do this because this is just a bilateral process. It has not worked in the past. That’s why the President is keen on a multilateral process. We hope that will work because everybody will be on board."
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