Amid the Centre’s silence over the DMK Government’s move to send material aid to Sri Lankan nationals suffering due to the economic crisis, Tamil Nadu BJP chief K Annamalai is on the island nation on a four-day visit during which he will meet leaders representing ethnic and plantation Tamils.
The visit is significant not just because it comes at a time Sri Lanka is undergoing an economic crisis, but also because it is seen as part of the BJP’s efforts to project itself as an outfit that is interested in the betterment of Tamils across the globe.
Annamalai, who participated in the May Day celebrations of the Ceylon Workers’ Congress, will also meet leaders from Tamil political parties that are based out of northern Sri Lanka. The former IPS officer will listen to their grievances vis-à-vis the elusive political solution as well as the economic crisis.
After his return, Annamalai is likely to submit a report to BJP chief J P Nadda on his interactions in Sri Lanka. The ethnic Tamils issue is still emotive in Tamil Nadu but has never resonated in elections – Dravidian parties have always been supportive of the Sri Lankan cause, and the BJP wants to wade into that territory as well.
In a statement, Annamalai also said the Tamil Nadu government resolution passed in the Assembly on April 29 did not have the information about what our country has already provided to Sri Lanka.
Explaining in detail, Annamalai said ahead of the Sinhala and Tamil new year, India shipped 11,000 MT of rice to help the people of Sri Lanka celebrate one of their biggest festivals.
“In February, $500 billion was given to Sri Lanka by India as a short-term loan to help it purchase petroleum products through the ministry of energy and the Ceylon Petroleum Corporation on behalf of the government of Sri Lanka,” he said.
He also expressed the hope that the Tamil Nadu government will now hand over the aid package to the Ministry of External Affairs to ensure smooth passage to Sri Lanka without insisting on delivering it directly by “politicising the standard protocols.”
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