10 May : Sharing a platform with Chief Minister M Karunanidhi, Congress President Sonia Gandhi on Sunday skirted issues like demands for a separate Eelam in Sri Lanka and sending of Indian Army to enable its creation and strongly stood by the alliance with DMK in Tamil Nadu.With just a day left for the campaigning to the fifth and final phase of polls, Gandhi addressed the sole election meeting in Tamil Nadu with an ailing Karunanidhi by her side, saying that the Sri Lankan Government had stopped combat operations against Tamils in the northern war zone due to the "resolute efforts" of the UPA government.
She made no reference to carving out Tamil Eelam from Sri Lanka, a demand raised by AIADMK and its allies which was later joined by her ally DMK.
Prime Minister Manmohan Singh had on Saturday rubbished the talk of sending army to Sri Lanka, saying "it is not easy to march armies into sovereign countries".
Sonia’s affirmation of alliance with DMK came in the backdrop of a flutter created by Rahul Gandhi who had called Jayalaithaa a like-minded leader.
She expressed deep "pain and anguish at the serious and heartbreaking plight of Tamil brothers and sisters and the sufferings of innocent men, women, children and elders (caught) in the crossfire," between army and LTTE in the island nation.
Gandhi said Congress stood for equal rights and status for the Tamils in Sri Lanka within the political framework of the Indo-Sri Lanka accord of 1987.
"Our ultimate goal, as Prime Minister Manmohan Singh had said and as has been the stand of the Congress in the last 30 years, is to secure for the Tamils equals rights and status within the framework of the 1987 Indo-Sri Lanka accord," she said.
"Our government had done everything possible to bring an end to the hostilities and it was due to our resolute efforts that Sri Lanka announced conclusion of combat operations and people moved to safer places," Gandhi said.
The UPA was "determined" to ensure all remaining people were moved to safe zones and carry on "our humanitarian work", she added.