Pranab must withdraw statement on Sri Lanka, insists PMKFebruary 19th, 2009 - 6:13 pm ICT by IANS
New Delhi, Feb 19 (IANS) External Affairs Minister Pranab Mukherjee should withdraw his suo motu statement in the Lok Sabha about the Sri Lankan crisis, the PMK, a constituent of the ruling United Progressive Alliance (UPA), demanded Thursday.
“(He should) either withdraw the statement or give an explanation,” PMK parliamentary party leader M. Ramadoss told the Lok Sabha.
“It is an irresponsible statement. We want to know whether the statement is his personal view or the government’s view,” he said.
Ramadoss was allowed to speak following continuous protests by PMK and MDMK MPs on the statement. Uproar over this and several other issues forced Speaker Somnath Chatterjee to adjourn the house earlier in the day.
Ramadoss also said that Mukherjee’s statement in the house Wednesday was “contradictory to what President Pratibha Patil said in her address to the joint session of parliament”.
Mukherjee said the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) would “best serve the interest of the Tamils by immediately releasing all civilians (under its control) and laying down arms”.
He said the Indian government “is ready to facilitate the evacuation of civilians trapped in the area of conflict, working with the government of Sri Lanka and the ICRC (International Committee of the Red Cross)”.
The protesting MPs have been accusing the government of speaking “the Sri Lankan regime’s language” and providing arms and ammunition to Colombo to kill civilians.
President Patil delineated India’s position that there should be a negotiated settlement in Sri Lanka.
“The president’s speech was satisfactory to us. But the foreign minister’s suo motu statement is a distortion of facts. It is contrary to what the president said,” Ramadoss said.
Varkkala Radhakrishnan (Communist Party of India-Marxist) protested Ramadoss’s demand, saying that a party which supports the government had no right to ask the government to withdraw a statement made in parliament.
However, Ramadoss maintained: “We are only backing the innocent Tamil people in Sri Lanka.”
“Our foreign policy is based on the Non-Aligned Movement. We should be neutral (in Sri Lanka),” he said.
“PMK has been a decent partner of the UPA and has been extending all cooperation to the government and providing stability. He (Mukherjee) should have consulted the UPA partners before making such statements,” Ramadoss said.