Sri Lankan girls hold burning sparklers as Sinhala and Tamil communities celebrate the traditional new year in Colombo on April 14, 2018. (Photo by ISHARA S. KODIKARA/AFP via Getty Images)
By Chandrashekar Bhat
A DELEGATION of Sri Lanka’s main Tamil party on Thursday (17) met Indian high commissioner Gopal Baglay in Colombo and held discussions on the devolution of powers to the minority Tamil community as well as development issues in the northern and eastern provinces of the country.
A five-member Tamil National Alliance (TNA) delegation met the Indian envoy a day after the first-ever meeting between the party and Sri Lankan president Gotabaya Rajapaksa scheduled for Wednesday (16) to discuss the constitutional reform process was postponed by the president without citing a reason.
Baglay stressed India’s support for reconciliation in line with the 13th Amendment to the Sri Lankan constitution which aims at creating provincial councils, a statement from the high commission said.
The amendment also recognises Sinhalese and Tamil as national languages while preserving English as the link language.
Since 2015, the TNA has been pressing for a reasonable political solution within a united Sri Lanka to fulfil the political aspirations of the Tamils.
Rajapaksa has often stated that political power was a demand only from Tamil politicians and what the Tamil population need is economic development in the former war-ravaged regions of the north and east.
India, during official engagements with the Sri Lankan government, has highlighted the need to empower provincial councils with a “meaningful devolution”.
However, Rajapaksa’s public statements reflected his keenness to abolish the system of provincial councils which became part of the Sri Lankan Constitution through the Indo-Lanka Accord of 1987 between Indian prime minister Rajiv Gandhi and Sri Lankan president Junius Jayawardena.
India has insisted that it will want Sri Lanka to pursue the 13A as the tool to address Tamil concerns on devolution of power.