Oct 01 (NIE) After the Sri Lankan president, a delegation of Tamil National Alliance (TNA) will be arriving in India in the next two weeks as India hopes to get both sides to initiate meaningful talks through a Parliamentary Select Committee process.
According to sources, a TNA delegation led by veteran R Sampanthan will be visiting India in the first half of October, though the exact dates have not yet been confirmed. Earlier this year, a TNA delegation had met the all party parliamentary delegation, as well as the External Affair Minister S M Krishna in Colombo.
The invitation comes within two weeks of Sri Lankan President Mahinda Rajapaksa's short Indian visit, that was ostensibly for the foundation laying ceremony of a university, but led to extensive talks with Prime MInister Manmohan Singh.
During the discussion, India had pushed for direct talks between TNA, a group of moderate Tamil political parties, and Colombo. But, Rajapaksa insisted that the discussions had to be held within the parliamentary select committee, as all parties should be involved to discuss critical issues that require changes in the constitution.
New Delhi will ask TNA to be more 'flexible' in their approach, but at the same time, there is an understanding of the latter's position that PSC discussions cannot begin on a clean slate. Indian officials agree that there should be a reflection of the various dialogue processes held so far, from the all party talks to the eighteen bilateral rounds with the TNA.
That will be the signal to the international community that the Rajapaksa government is serious about this process, rather than this being another attempt to avoid taking a decision on the devolution of power, assert sources.
Interestingly, India has been sensitive to the concerns of both sides, including Colombo. For example, while New Delhi continued to bat for devolution of power though the implementation of the 13th amendment as agreed in the 1987 India-Sri Lanka accord, it was a little more circumspect about raising the word in the talks this time.
India did continue to talk about meaningful devolution of powers to provinces, which effectively means the 13th amendment, but officials added that it wasn't mentioned like a mantra. Colombo had been sensitive that it did not want to be seen implementing the 13th amendment on pressure from external powers, which had led to it publicly denying that the matter was raised in previous discussions with various Indian leaders.