Seven member TNA delegation head for India

A seven member delegation of the Tamil National Alliance (TNA) will leave for India today for crucial talks with the Indian government.

The delegation led by TNA leader R. Sambanthan will include Suresh Premachandran, M.A Sumanthiran, Mavai Senathirajah and Selvam Adaikalanathan.

Prior to their departure to New Delhi the TNA delegation had met in Colombo yesterday and had a special discussion regarding their agenda for the talks in India.

Meanwhile a senior leader in the group told The Hindu newspaper that New Delhi must convey to the Sri Lankan leadership that long lasting peace can only come through meaningful devolution.

A senior Sri Lankan Minister, on the other hand, said it wanted India to use its good offices to prevail upon the Tamil political grouping to agree to a Parliamentary Select Committee process for hammering out a solution.

Amid speculation here that the TNA had been “summoned” to New Delhi to be told to participate in the Parliamentary Select Committee — announced by the Rajapaksa government — TNA parliamentarian M.A. Sumanthiran said he feared that the committee would be used as an instrument to scrap the 13th Amendment to the Sri Lankan Constitution, which provides for limited devolution of power to the provinces.

“The PSC has 31 members. We will have 5 members. They will suggest to scrap the 13th Amendment…Their agenda for the PSC is to take away the 13th Amendment,” he said.

That is why, Mr. Sumanthiran said, the TNA had made its participation in the PSC conditional to a guarantee from the government that the agenda for discussions would not go below a certain existing devolution threshold.

The TNA has said it wants the PSC to discuss five existing documents on devolution, prepared by the previous governments and the Rajapaksa government. However, before that “intense talks” between the Tamil grouping and the government were needed for consensus on a solution, it said.

Dismissing the TNA’s fears as “unfounded”, Foreign Minister G.L. Pieris told The Hindu that had the aim been to scrap the 13th Amendment, it could be done directly in Parliament, as the government had a two-thirds majority.