BJP denies inviting Rajapaksa as Tamil leaders announce protest in India
Tamils across Tamil Nadu on Wednesday launched protests against Rajapaksa’s scheduled visit to India on 21 September to inaugurate a centre for Buddhist study at Vidisha, Madhya Pradesh. While VCK activists in Coimbatore burnt photographs of Mahinda Rajapaksa and Sushma Swaraj, the leader of the BJP who had reportedly invited the genocide-accused SL president, MDMK leader Vaiko urged the BJP to cancel the invitation to Rajapaksa, stating that otherwise he would lead a black flag demonstration to Madhya Pradesh when the SL president arrives. In the meantime, Sushma Swaraj and other BJP leaders have denied inviting Rajapaksa, alleging that the Indian Prime Minister and the Ministry of External Affairs were responsible for inviting the SL president.
“Invitation to Rajapajksa was sent by the prime minister, not by the leader of opposition. I have not invited him. Leader of opposition cannot invite anybody (head of the state) to the country. His itinerary has been finalised by PMO and MEA," India Today quoted BJP leader Sushma Swaraj as saying.
Likewise, a PTI report cited the Tamil Nadu state unit chief of the BJP Pon. Radhakrishnan: "The Centre is trying to shift the blame on BJP, despite our strong opposition to the visit of Rajapakse".
Rajapaksa was scheduled to visit Sanchi, located near Vidisha, Madhya Pradesh, which is an important historical Buddhist site in India.
BJP leader Sushma represents the Vidisha constituency in the Indian Lok Sabha.
Other reports say that Madhya Pradesh, which is ruled by the BJP, would welcome the Sri Lankan president.
Commenting on the current situation, journalist PC Vinoj Kumar, editor of The Weekend Leader, writes in an opinion piece ‘India should not entertain a war criminal’ on Wednesday that the protests in Tamil Nadu calling for snapping of business ties with Sri Lanka owe to New Delhi’s failure to make Rajapaksa face international investigations on war crimes, further criticizing a section of the Indian media for a deliberate misinterpretation of ground realities.
“New Delhi remains stuck to an ostrich policy and fails to understand the public sentiment in Tamil Nadu. It lets itself to be misled by an elitist bureaucracy and a section of the media, which has failed to report facts,” he writes.
“By continuously ignoring the protests in Tamil Nadu against the Rajapaksa regime, and calling these protestors as Tamil chauvinists and members of fringe groups, and misrepresenting these protests as against the Sinhalese people, New Delhi is allowing the wounds to fester,” he further writes.