DMK withdraws from MPs delegation
to Sri Lanka
Tamil Nadu's major opposition party DMK Sunday
decided to pull out of the all-party delegation of Members of
Parliament to Sri Lanka, saying the visit will "serve no purpose".
Speaking to reporters here, DMK president
Amid continuing concern in India about the plight of Tamils in Sri
Lanka, a joint parliamentary delegation Monday began a six-day
visit to the island nation, that includes visits to camps of
displaced Tamils and areas affected by Colombo's war with the LTTE
that ended in 2009.
The delegation is being led by Sushma Swaraj, leader of Opposition
in the Lok Sabha, and will travel to different parts of Sri Lanka,
including its Northern, Eastern, Central and Western Provinces,
the external affairs ministry said here Monday.
The delegation consists of Members of Parliament from the Lok
Sabha and Rajya Sabha nominated by various political parties,
including the Biju Janata Dal, Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP),
Communist Party of India-Marxist, Congress, Janata Dal (United)
and Samajwadi Party.
However, DMK and AIADMK, two main political parties from Tamil
Nadu, have chosen to stay away from the parliamentary delegation,
casting doubts over the effectiveness of the goodwill mission.
The delegation is expected to call on Sri Lanka President Mahinda
Rajapaksa and meet the ministers of external affairs and economic
development. The MPs are also expected to interact with the Leader
of the House and Sri Lankan parliamentarians. They will also
separately meet politicians cutting across the spectrum, including
the Leader of the Opposition and representatives of the Tamil
National Alliance, the Sri Lankan Muslim Congress, the Ceylon
Workers Congress and other upcountry political parties.
In their interaction, the Indian MPs are expected to seek an
update from the Sri Lankan leaders on the progress by Sri Lanka
over the proposed devolution of powers to the provinces and the
reintegration of the Tamil provinces.
The primary focus of the delegation's visit will be to see
first-hand the areas recovering from decades of conflict in the
North and East of Sri Lanka and India-sponsored projects in these
areas. India has invested heavily in development assistance
projects for the resettlement and rehabilitation of Internally
Displaced Persons (IDPs) and reconstruction of areas affected by
Their itinerary includes a trip to the IDP Camp at Menik Farm and
visits to Vavuniya, Mullaitivu, Jaffna, Kankesanthurai, Kalutara,
Dickoya, Hatton and Batticaloa. Indian assistance projects,
including the development of rail and port infrastructure,
connectivity and transportation, education, public health,
housing, de-mining, vocational training and economic revival, are
being implemented in these areas.
The visit of the parliamentary delegation comes three weeks after
India voted against Sri Lanka on a UN resolution, triggering
speculation that it could jeopardise India's relationship with Sri
India is also helping the displaced Tamils through a slew of steps
aimed at enhancing agricultural productivity and providing
sustainable livelihood to displaced Tamils that included supply of
70,000 agriculture tool kits; supply of 500 four-wheeled tractors
and agricultural equipment; and supply of seeds. Other major
India-aided reconstruction projects include the rehabilitation of
Palaly Airport and Kankesanthurai Harbour.