Colombo Telegraph

Singh Will Not Sing At CHOGM!

By Sharmini Serasinghe

Sharmini Serasinghe

So the Injun PM is not coming after all! No surprises in that, given the racket Tamil Nadu has been making in the recent past over him attending/not attending CHOGM in Colombo.

Just imagine our poor Emperor hopping mad; pulling his jet-black tinted hair and moustache, seething with fury over the snub. After all what can he do, short of dragging the Injun PM by his turban or beard to Colombo?

However horrible our Emperor is to us when these Injun types try to mess around with him, we must back our man, no? Poor guy, I think he was planning to impress the Injun PM amongst other things, with his beautiful and clean Colombo compared with dusty, dirty and polluted New Delhi. After all that vacuuming and dusting brother Gota had to do, what a waste of an effort!

At least we the humble peasants can enjoy Gota’s hard work; nice pavements, gardens, fountains and all that.

You know, I think this whole business of the Turban-Man not coming because of the din Tamil Nadu is making is all a humbug. You see, this big commotion about us violating Human Rights and all that during the final stages of the war, is all because of the Injuns, no?

If they hadn’t trained and armed Prabha and his morons in their backyard all those years ago, then all those innocent civilians under whose ‘reddhas’ the tigers were hiding during the final stages of war would still be alive. So logically it is the Injuns who have violated Human Rights in Sri Lanka, not us!

However, this latest development about the Turban-Man not coming is creating a lot of interest for observers like us.

The prestigious Indian newspaper ‘The Hindu’ of 10th November carried a cracker piece titled “PM to skip CHOGM”. After citing a lot of bla, bla, bla as to why he’s not coming, it quotes Ministry of External Affairs spokesperson Syed Akbaruddin as having dished out some ridiculous justification including “ever since India joined the Commonwealth, no Indian Prime Minister had attended more than two summits staged abroad. As Prime Minister, Dr. Manmohan Singh had participated in the Kampala (2007) and Port of Spain (2009) CHOGMs”. Honestly, couldn’t they have come with something a little more convincing?

Some unnamed Diplomats are also quoted as having uttered some similar garbage.

Might I ask these guys what significance Kampala and Port of Spain hold for India regards foreign policy over neighbouring Sri Lanka?

External Affairs Minister Salman Khurshid, is coming instead to represent India at CHOGM. It would be better if India keeps him back too and some ‘parippu’ dropped instead like in June 1987. At least we could feed our visitors with it!

As hard as it is to admit at this juncture, of all the countries in the Commonwealth, India possibly represents the strongest manifestation of its ideals, thus the greatest weight of the organisation. Therefore the absence of its Prime Minister, Manmohan Singh, from the Colombo meeting delivers a sharp blow not only to Sri Lanka but to CHOGM as a whole. The summit would have held greater political significance for Sri Lanka with the Indian Prime Minister present!

Our Emperor should have seen this coming. India is currently more concerned with its own backyard politics. For Manmohan Singh and the Congress, a tough election in 2014 and keeping prospective alliance partners happy are of greater significance than keeping neighbours happy. So if Tamil Nadu tells the PM “you can’t go” then he can’t go!

Perhaps the greatest letdown of all by India is that of Sri Lanka’s Northern Province Chief-Minster C. V. Wigneswaran who had invited the Indian Prime Minister to visit Jaffna while in Sri Lanka.

*Sharmini Serasinghe was Director Communications of the former Secretariat for Coordinating the Peace Process (SCOPP) under Secretary Generals Dr. John Gooneratne and Jayantha Dhanapala. She counts over thirty years in journalism in both the print and electronic media.

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