Having twice voted against Sri Lanka in as many years, it is only expected that the shrill notes of Dravidian parties in the election season would nudge the UPA to vote for a UN resolution later this month, accusing the neighbour of human rights violations against Tamils.
As the issue hots up with Prime Minister Manmohan Singh likely to meet Lanka president Mahinda Rajapaksa on the sidelines of the 3rd BIMSTEC summit, the government refused to spell out its stand on voting at the UN Human Rights Council in Geneva. A senior official said, “We have not seen the text.” Sources said in deciding on the vote “we will pursue our interests”.
However, there were indications that the government may be loathe to review its stand of recent years that would see it express satisfaction with Lanka in public. “We would like to see more progress on reconciliation in Lanka. They must move forward on domestic issues,” a top official said in what appeared a veiled indication of which way the vote may be headed.
Much to Colombo’s chagrin, India has voted for the resolution at the UNHRC in recent times in the backdrop of shrill notes the struck by the Tamil Nadu parties in the run-up to the Geneva meetings every time.
This time, given the context of Lok Sabha elections and the post-poll importance of premier Dravidian parties in cobbling up coalitions, Congress may have to think twice before indulging in any bold moves. The DMK had used the pretext of UPA’s soft stance against Lanka to quit the ruling coalition last year and while the government sought to assuage its feelings by voting for the resolution slamming Lanka, DMK still criticised the Centre for “watering down the text”. In a bid to win over the Tamil street, or at least the sub-nationalists, Karunanidhi’s arch rival and chief minister J Jayalalithaa, too, has upped the ante against Lanka contrary to its stance in earlier years.
The AIADMK last month tried to trip the DMK at its own game of hardline Tamil politics by ordering the release of the seven convicts in the Rajiv Gandhi assassination case, a move since stayed by the Supreme Court.
Given the rising shrillness in the Tamil Nadu politics, it remains to be seen if UPA would revise its stand and side with Lanka on the global stage.
Critics have slammed the UPA of letting its political considerations of keeping DMK in good humour interfere with the need to maintain friendly relations with Lanka that has its strategic importance. They have claimed that Lanka is drifting towards China because of India’s actions including the UNHRC vote. (Times of India)