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Asian Tribune is published by World Institute For Asian Studies|Powered by WIAS Vol. 12 No. 2908

DMK leaders meet Sonia, discuss Lanka, poll alliance

By M Rama Rao, India Editor, Asian Tribune

New Delhi, 18 February ( A high level delegation of Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam flew in here for a meeting with Sonia Gandhi, the Congress President and chief of the ruling UPA coalition.M.K.StalinM.K.Stalin

It is the first such contact between the two sides in recent weeks though Pranab Mukherjee in his capacity as the Indian point's man on Lanka issue has been in touch with chief minister Muthavel Karunanidhi.

DMK's Treasurer M K Stalin led the party delegation to the talks with Sonia Gandhi. He is projected as the GenNext leader of the Southern party keeping in tune with the trend of projecting a youthful face. The Congress party's crown prince is Rahul Gandhi.

Stalin-Sonia talks covered the Tamil issue in Sri Lanka, which is of immediate concern to the DMK and electoral tie-up for the Lok Sabha elections due in about 70-days. The Congress is not keen on national level tie-ups but is thinking of state level alliances.

The talks lasted an hour. Sonia Gandhi described the discussions as preliminary. She said that both sides would meet again in two or three days. 'There is going to be a forward movement. We shall meet again in two to three days', Sonia said.

Asked whether she would meet DMK president M Karunanidhi, she replied: 'I look forward to meeting Karunanidhiji. At the earliest opportunity I shall call on him'.

Before leaving Chennai for Delhi, Stalin said any ceasefire in Sri Lanka would be 'meaningful' only if Sri Lankan Army and the LTTE stop fighting in the island. He said his DMK party had welcomed the remarks of External Affairs Minister Pranab Mukherjee that the war in the island should be stopped immediately to save the civilian Tamils.

There could be a real ceasefire if only both the warring parties adhere to it, Stalin said.

Home Minister P Chidambaram also echoed the same views in Chennai on Sunday when he said that both the parties should adhere to ceasefire if it was to be meaningful.

'Our (Congress) policy is clear. LTTE is an armed militant group. They must announce that they are willing to lay down arms and are prepared for talks. Simultaneously, the Sri Lankan Government should suspend its military offensive," he told a public meeting organized by the party.

He promised that the Indian Government would definitely arrange for a dialogue 'if the LTTE lays down arms and came forward for talks'. Criticizing the LTTE for not utilizing the recent 48-hour ceasefire proposed by the Sri Lankan Government to allow people to move to safer areas and come for talks. Chidambaram said it could be possible to find a good solution, he remarked and asked Congressmen to carry this message to every nook and corner of Tamil Nadu.

The DMK's youth wing will organize a human chain in Chennai and in all district headquarters on Feb 21 in order to press both the parties –LTTE and Sri Lanka government to stop the war.

-Asian Tribune -

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