Federation of Indian Chambers of Commerce and Industry (Ficci) said it was told by the Central government to go ahead with its initiative to send a delegation of MPs to Sri Lanka as it “might be counterproductive to cancel the visit taking into account the feelings of the all-party parliamentary members”.
Following requests from her Tamil Nadu chapter as well as Union minister Jayanthi Natarajan seeking cancellation of the trip considering Tamil sentiments, Ficci president Naina Lal Kidwai had got in touch with the Prime Minister’s Office and the Ministry of External Affairs on Monday.
She was clearly told by the PMO and MEA that since it was not a government-to-government initiative but one undertaken by an association, it might be counter-productive to abort it at this late stage.
“We made a forceful representation to Ficci president to cancel this trip, but she was told by the PMO and MEA not to do so”, Ficci adviser P Murari told DC. He said the mandate of the Parliamentary delegation was “only to ascertain the ground realities and the conditions of the Sri Lankan Tamils…and present a first hand report to the Centre”.
The delegation visited Jaffna and met TNA leaders on Tuesday. Pursuing its real agenda of what’s known as ‘track-two diplomacy’, the team is slated to hold talks with various Tamil and Muslim groups, besides senior Sinhala leaders, including President Mahinda Rajapaksa, before returning to Delhi on Friday.
Referring to the demonstration by some Tamil outfits against Ficci in Chennai, a senior Ficci official pointed out that the MPs’ team included Sandip Dikshit, a spokesperson for the Congress party and the son of Delhi chief minister Sheila Dixit.