M A I N   N E W S

PM rules out talks with ULFA on sovereignty

Guwahati, April 1
Declaring that there would be no compromise on the issue of infiltration, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh today said the Centre would accelerate the peace process in Assam but ruled out talks on sovereignty.

''The question of sovereignty does not arise. We are all sovereign citizens of India and the Constitutional position is quite clear on the matter.

"The ULFA can raise any issue, that does not mean all the issues are open for negotiation,'' he said.

The ULFA had insisted that sovereignty demands should be included in the peace talk.

Taking a serious note of the infiltration menace, Dr Manmohan Singh said: “I want to assure the people of Assam that we will show no mercy on the issue of illegal infiltration.”

“At the same time all genuine citizens of the state have my assurance that in the name of detection of foreigners they are not harassed,” he told a press conference immediately on his arrival for a two-day election campaign.

Dr Manmohan Singh urged the misguided youths to shun violence and "doors will be open for all those who shun violence."

"In this context, two rounds of talks have been already held with certain groups of people (referring to the Peoples' Consultative Group appointed by the ULFA) and we will accelerate the peace process," the Prime Minister said.

"We want to create an atmosphere of peace and reach a final solution to this intricate problem of bringing the misguided youths to mainstream," Dr Manmohan Singh said.

"You have a Prime Minister who is there to look after the interests of Assam and we want to ensure development in the state in an atmosphere of peace," the Prime Minister said.

In another significant statement, he said the UPA government would last its full term and ruled out any possibility of a mid-term poll.

“I will make it clear that the UPA government will last its full term and there will be no mid-term poll,'' he told newspersons.

Anticipating the mid-term poll, a theory bolstered by UPA Chairperson Sonia Gandhi's sudden resignation from Parliament, Assam has emerged as the latest battleground for a possible third front where the left and democratic secular forces are coming together under one platform leaving both the UPA and NDA.

About the controversy surrounding the continuance of Mr Navin Chawla as the Election Commissioner, the Prime Minister confirmed that he had received a presidential reference in this regard two days ago.

''I have received that and I will consider it in due course of time,'' he said giving indication that it was the PMO and not the Election Commission (EC) who would decide the fate of the Election Commissioner.

Touching upon the contentious issue of Greater Nagaland, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh said the redrawing of boundaries of north-eastern states to accommodate the Greater Nagaland demand of the NSCN (IM) would not be done without the states' consent.

Asked whether talks with the NSCN(IM) would affect the territorial integrity of Assam, the Prime Minister said negotiations with the NSCN(IM) were on and "we want a fruitful solution to emerge".

"We want Nagaland to prosper in peace and security. However, no change can be made in the present status of states without the consent of the states," he said.

"We are committed to maintaining territorial integrity of all states in the North-East," Dr Manmohan Singh said.

The Prime Minister also addressed a huge election rally at Suwalkuchi where he reiterated his tough stand against the infiltration.

''We will take all positive steps to prevent illegal infiltration. We will work to make Assam a frontline state in the country,'' he said.

The Prime Minister said border- fencing along Indo-Bangla border was on and the preparation of the National Register of Citizens was going according to schedule.

Urging the people to vote back the Congress in the state, he said a Congress government both at the Centre and state would ensure better coordination.

At a yet another election rally in Nalbari, the Prime Minister addressed the concerns of minorities and assured them that they had nothing to fear after the repeal of the IMDT Act.

Dr Manmohan Singh accused the BJP of indulging in communal politics which, he said, had led to communal hatred.

Referring to the flood problem in Assam, the Prime Minister said it was a major problem and to solve it all rivers of the North-East must be harnessed.

''To deal with the problem, the UPA government has set up the North-East Water Resources Authority which will control floods and also ensure optimum utilisation of water resources,'' the Prime Minister said.


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