The UPA government on Sunday scrambled to find a middle path to keep both Colombo as well as its key ally DMK in good humour after M Karunanidhi warned that his party would pull out of the ruling coalition if India failed to bring amendments to the US-sponsored resolution on the Sri Lankan Tamil issue at the UNHRC.
In a letter to prime minister Manmohan Singh and UPA chairperson Sonia Gandhi, the DMK chief said he felt “let down” by the government on the issue. Tamil parties have been demanding that India push for amendments to the resolution against Sri Lanka to incorporate its demand for an international probe and time-bound action against those found guilty of killing Tamils in Northern Sri Lanka.
The draft resolution set to be moved in the United Nations Human Rights Commission (UNHRC) in Geneva is asking for setting up of a tribunal to inquire into the allegations, which appears to be a compromise arrived between Colombo and Washington. Sources say the government is working out a way to support the US-backed res
olution asking for a “credible, independent and a time-bound probe into war crimes”. The government, however, is hesitant to call for a “foreign” led probe.
The DMK’s latest threat to walk out seems to have worked, forcing the government to open its cards. Sources in the government say the fear of the Tamil parties were unfounded as India has remained consistent on an independent probe that they want.
Meanwhile, external affairs minister Salman Khurshid said a decision on the issue will be taken after consulting the DMK and other allies. “The UPA government will take a decision on the vote against Sri Lanka in the UNHRC, later this month, after a meeting with its allies, particularly DMK,” he said.
Karunanidhi had earlier warned of pulling out his ministers from the union cabinet, despite finance minister P Chidambaram hinting at a possible vote against Sri Lanka. “I’m confident that if phrases in the UN resolution sought credible independent international probe, India would support it,” Chidambaram said.
However, officials say India cannot walk too far, apprehending heightened Chinese activities in its southern neighbourhood. They say that so far Sri Lanka has maintained a fine balance between two major neighbours despite temptations. “Therefore, an all-out tirade against Colombo as demanded by the Tamil parties would be detrimental to India’s long term strategic interests,” they said.