Facing criticism from allies, the BJP on Thursday backed the party’s decision to invite Sri Lankan President Mahinda Rajapaksa to the swearing-in of Narendra Modi as Prime Minister scheduled for May 26.
Addressing reporters here, BJP State president Pon. Radhakrishnan said the decision could not be compared with the UPA’s invites to Mr. Rajapaksa in the past. While taking the decision, the BJP was mindful of the rights of the Sri Lankan Tamils. “The knife in the hands of a killer is not the same as the one in the hands of a doctor. The BJP’s decision is like the latter. It is to heal.”
The invitation was not extended exclusively to Mr. Rajapaksa; all SAARC heads of state were invited for the function. “Inviting the Sri Lankan President does not mean we will compromise on the rights of Tamils,” he said.
Asked about MDMK general secretary Vaiko’s appeal that Mr. Rajapaksa not be allowed to attend the function, Mr. Radhakrishnan requested that the public in general and political parties in particular avoid criticising the new government for six months. “I will speak to my friend Vaiko. I am sure he will understand.”
“The invitation has also been sent to Chief Minister Jayalalithaa,” he said, expressing the hope that she would attend the function. However, when asked whether DMK president M. Karunanidhi would be invited, Mr. Radhakrishnan said it would be for the BJP’s central leadership to decide. Asked whether leaders of the BJP allies would be accommodated in the Modi Cabinet, he said a ministerial berth alone did not guarantee development in the State. “We have had seven ministers at the Centre in the past. Did the State benefit,” he asked.