Sharing a platform with Chief Minister M Karunanidhi, Congress president Sonia Gandhi on Sunday skirted issues like the demand for a separate Eelam in Sri Lanka and sending the Indian army to enable its creation and strongly stood by the alliance with Dravida Munnettra Kazhagam 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 United Progressive Alliance government.
She made no reference to carving out Tamil Eelam from Sri Lanka, a demand raised by All India Anna Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam and its allies, which was later joined by her ally DMK.
Prime Minister Manmohan Singh had on Saturday rubbished the talk of sending the army to Sri Lanka, saying 'it is not easy to march armies into sovereign countries'. Sonia's affirmation of the 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 the army and Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam in the island nation.
Gandhi said the 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 equal 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 'humanitarian work' was carried on, she added.