Govt will send 'resolute message' on Sri Lanka

The government Wednesday said it will move amendments to the resolution on Sri Lanka at the UNHRC by sending a "resolute message" and denied New Delhi diluted the US-sponsored motion denouncing Sri Lanka over alleged rights abuses.

"As far as the government is concerned, our position is that we intend to move amendments to the draft resolution before the UNHRC," Finance Minister P.Chidambaram told a packed press conference.

"We will also continue to consult political parties on bringing a resolution to be adopted by parliament," said Chidambaram, who was flanked by his cabinet colleagues, Parliamentary Affairs Minister Kamal Nath and Information and Broadcasting Minister Manish Tewari.

Chidambaram said India's position was that the UNHRC should adopt a strong resolution to send a "resolute message" on Colombo's human rights violations and to make Sri Lanka accept an independent and credible investigation into charges of "war crimes".

Colombo has repeatedly denied killing Tamil civilians during its military campaign against the Tamil Tigers four years ago.

The three top ministers also asserted once again that the government was "absolutely stable" and not a "lame duck" after the DMK quit the Congress-led United Progressive Alliance (UPA) government over the Sri Lanka issue.

Five of its ministers in the Prime Minister Manmohan Singh's government rendered their resignations Wednesday, a day after DMK supremo M. Karunanidhi announced exit from the government after nine years into the alliance.

Chidambaram also denied that New Delhi had diluted the US-sponsored resolution condemning Sri Lanka over alleged rights' abuses at the UNHRC in Geneva.

"This is a canard. The (media) story is stoutly denied," he said.

"India's position has always been - and remains - that the UNHRC should adopt a strong resolution that would send a resolute message to Sri Lanka and goad Sri Lanka to accept an independent and credible investigation," a statement that was also read out by Chidambaram said.

DMK president M. Karunanidhi had said that his party quit the ruling coalition after realizing that India helped to dilute the US resolution.

A vote is coming up at the 47-member UNHRC pulling up Sri Lanka for military excesses during the final stages of the war that vanquished the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE).

Last year, India had voted against Sri Lanka at the UNHRC.

The statement said Dilip Sinha, India's Permanent Representative to the UNHRC, was in New Delhi for consultations and met the prime minister. An all-party meet on the issue is scheduled in the evening.

Chidambaram, however, said the proposed resolution in parliament was not linked to the withdrawal of support by the DMK.

Information and Broadcasting Minister Manish Tewari said the government had to be sensitive to the feelings of the people of a state.

The reference was to the unending street protests in Tamil Nadu demanding that India should take a hard line vis-a-vis Sri Lanka.

"We are not a lame duck government. The government is neither lame nor is it a duck. We are absolutely stable. No political party has come out to challenge our majority," Kamal Nath said.

"We are not aware of the reasons why the DMK changed its position between the night of March 18 and the morning of March 19," Chidambaram said, while saying that DMK chief had said the party would reconsider decision to withdraw support if parliament adopts a resolution before the end of current sittings on March 22.

Asked whether the Congress would try to rope in some other parties, Kamal Nath said in politics, doors are always open.