Close on the heels of a meeting between newly elected Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi and President Mahinda Rajapaksa in New Delhi, where the former called for early and full implementation of the 13th Amendment and to go beyond, the government yesterday said that it was only the Parliamentary Select Committee (PSC) that could decide on the matter.
The Tamil National Alliance has said that it has no faith in the proposed Parliamentary Select Committee and has not yet decided whether it will participate. “We have no confidence in the proposed Parliamentary Select Committee as that will also be a strategy adopted by the government to delay the process of finding a solution to the ethnic question,” TNA spokesman and Jaffna District MP Suresh Premachandran told The Island on Saturday.
Addressing a media conference at the Sri Lanka Freedom Party head office, Irrigation and Water Resources Development Minister Nimal Siripala de Silva said that the government would cooperate with India always but no one should interfere with the internal affairs of the country.
On 29 July 1987, Indo-Sri Lanka Accord was signed between Indian Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi and Sri Lankan President J.R. Jayewardene which stated the devolution powers to the provinces. Hence on 14 November 1987 the Sri Lankan Parliament passed the 13th Amendment to the 1978 Constitution of Sri Lanka and the Provincial Councils Act No 42 of 1987 to establish provincial councils
The Minister said that the 13th Amendment to the Constitution had been forced on the country during the J. R. Jayewardene administration, but the present administration had appointed a PSC to review it before its full implementation. The 13th Amendment had been implemented step by step since 1987 but there were some sections which needed parliamentary review, he said.
“President Mahinda Rajapksa’s position is that a solution to the issue should be evolved only through the PSC,” Minister de Silva said.
Minister de Silva said, however, the Sri Lankan government did not intend to confront India and it wished to sort out all issues through negotiations.
As head of the PSC, the minister said that the UNP, the Tamil National Alliance and the JVP had not attended the PSC so far. He invited them to join the PSC at least now.
Responding to a query regarding Tamil Nadu pressure on the Indian Central government on the Sri Lanka issue, the Minister said that the BJP had an absolute majority and it would not have to dance to the tune of TN.
“We also deal only with the Central government and not with state administrations of India,” he said.
Monitoring MP of the Foreign Ministry Sajin de Vass Gunawardena, who met Indian Premier with the President Rajapaksa, said that the new Prime Minister had highlighted during the discussion between the two leaders that countries of the SAARC region would go to the world forum with a common theme always. “It was a good idea of new PM Modi,” he added.
SLFP General Secretary and Health Minister Maithripala Sirisena, Youth Affairs and Skills Development Minister Dullas Alahapperuma also addressed the conference.