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Rift in Modi front over Lanka

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The Bharatiya Janata Party’s decision to invite the Sri Lankan President, Mahinda Rajapaksa, for Narendra Modi’s swearing-in function has caused deep anguish and resentment among its allies in Tamil Nadu, The Hindu reported.

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MDMK chief Vaiko with Ram Jethmalani

The Marumalarchi Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (MDMK), one of the allies of the BJP-led National Democratic Alliance (NDA), has requested the Prime Minister-designate not to allow Mr. Rajapaksa to participate in the function to be held in New Delhi on May 26.

“With folded hands and anguish, I request you, BJP president Rajnath Singh and NDA leaders not to permit the Sri Lankan President to take part in the event. His participation will hurt and cause pain to the Tamils,” MDMK general secretary Vaiko said in a statement.

He also pointed out that the Sri Lankan Presidents were not invited for the swearing-in of A.B. Vajpayee in 1998-99 as Prime Minister and later when the UPA governments assumed office in 2004 and 2009.

“The news that Rajapaksa has been invited for the swearing-in ceremony has come as a thunderous blow. No Tamilian will tolerate the entry of Rajapaksa into Delhi,” Mr. Vaiko said.

He said the Congress was shown the door by the people of Tamil Nadu for “helping Colombo in its pursuit against LTTE, in which thousands of Tamil civilians were killed.”
Meanwhile, the Pattali Makkal Katchi, another strong critic of Mr. Rajapaksa, finds itself in a fix, particularly when its lone MP Anbumani Ramadoss is likely to be accommodated in the Cabinet. “The party has already discussed the issue, but it wants to wait for a day to express its opinion,” a senior PMK leader said.

There is no word yet on the issue from the Vijayakant-led DMDK, another key ally of the BJP.

Meanwhile, Tamil Nadu BJP leaders find themselves in a quandary.

According to senior leaders, Mr. Modi’s swearing-in function was being perceived as the first step towards building stronger ties with the AIADMK.

“But given the fact that Rajapaksa has been invited and reports confirm his participation, we doubt if the AIADMK leader and Chief Minister Jayalalithaa will attend the swearing-in,” a senior leader said.
Meanwhile, the DMK has also criticized the move. DMK leader TKS Elangovan was quoted as saying, “He could have avoided it when he is becoming the PM…he should have respected Indian sentiments.”

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