A BJP team from Tamil Nadu on a Track II diplomatic mission has urged the Sri Lankan government to expedite democratic reforms under the 13th Amendment to ensure devolution of powers to Tamil provinces and grant of equal rights to Tamils, the Times of India reported.
“The issue of the 13th Amendment was discussed with Lankan minister for health Rajitha Senaratne and minister for resettlement D. M. Swaminathan,” BJP national executive member L. Ganesan said on his return to India from Colombo.
Ganesan visited Sri Lanka on an invitation from Ilangai Jayaraj, popular orator and expert in Kamban Ramayana, to address a conference in Colombo on the 12th Century Tamil epic.
Ganesan combined his cultural visit with a Track II diplomatic mission with state BJP vice president M. Chakravarthy to meet Tamils and interact with Sri Lankan ministers, as a follow up to Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s state to the island nation in March.
“The issue of giving equal rights to Tamils was discussed with Sri Lankan minister for health Rajitha Senaratne and minister for resettlement D. M. Swaminathan,” said the BJP national executive member.
Ganesan said the ministers had conveyed their government’s commitment to rehabilitate around 80,000 war widows through professional training and skill development programmes.
During their five-day visit, a delegation of Tamils from Jaffna called on the BJP leaders. The delegation invited them to the northern provinces. Indian origin Tamil settlers in tea estates had also met them.
Chakravarthy said both Sinhalese and Tamils “are slowly getting out of the LTTE phobia and looking towards the future”.
Speaking about the conference, Ganesan said: “Jayaraj has been organising annual conferences on Asian epics and related literature for the past 25 years. This time he invited me to deliver the keynote address.”
The conference was inaugurated by Malaysian deputy minister for sports M. Sarvananan on May 1.
The BJP leaders also joined the Buddha Purnima celebrations in Colombo. “I have not seen something like this for a long time. Every street was crowded in the Lankan capital with people and vehicles. People lined up patiently to receive food specially prepared for the occasion and distributed in various parts of the city,” he recalled.