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Naidu flays Centre over President's rule in Orissa

By Onkar Singh in New Delhi
October 06, 2008 19:39 IST
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M Venkaiah Naidu, former president of Bharatiya Janata Party, flayed the Union government for threatening to impose president's rule in Orissa amid the continuing communal violence in the state.

Addressing a press conference in New Delhi Naidu said that the party was against violence whether it took place in Orissa, Karnataka, Mahrashtra, Assam and any other part of India. "We unequivocally condemn these acts of violence and the guilty must be punished. There is no place for vandalism and violence in our democratic society. However, neither can we accept a selective condemnation of any episode without honestly examining the complete socio-political and economic realities and facts behind the situation. The incidents in both Orissa and Karnataka are the outcome of certain realities and actions. And anyone who seeks to speak about them must first appraise themselves about the complete truth and happenings there before making adverse comments," Naidu  said.

Venkaiah asserted that his party was not averse to a dialogue with other parties on the issue of conversions."We clearly distinguish between the campaign against Christians and the campaign against conversions. If there is any campaign against Christians, one must condemn it. But if there is campaign against conversion, the country must debate it. Religious freedom doesn't provide the freedom to belittle and denigrate other religious faiths," the former BJP president explained.

Giving background to violence in Karnataka and Orissa he said that New Life, an evangelical organization in Karnataka had continuously  been denigrating Hindu gods and goddesses in their publication.

Naidu explained that the Panas who had converted to Chirstainity wanted the benefits of reservation and this was not acceptable to Kandhas who "perceive that they are getting displaced from their traditional land by means of fraud. The pseudo-secular parties, including the Congress, have supported the cause of the Panas especially for reservation benefits. And the continuing process of conversions in the area, have only added fuel to the fire. In substance, the clash between the Panas and Kandhas is a socio-economic issue especially over land rights coupled with the issue of organized conversions".

He wanted to know what action the Assam government had taken against those who had raised the Bangladeshi flag on the Indian soil and more than 65,000 people had been rendered homeless.

"Unless the core issue of land alienation and the issue of organized conversions is not addressed in its totality, the situation in Orissa cannot be expected to improve. Treating only the symptom is not a solution for the long term resolution of the basic cause of the conflict.The proper solution is to initiate a dialogue between the two communities and also the government should take steps to release the large tracts of land that are being grabbed by fraudulent means. To ease social unrest, the killers of Swami Lakshmananda and his associates must also be punished at the earliest. The government must also enquire and cancel the benefits of reservation that have been accrued by presenting bogus certificates," Naidu said.
He refused to comment on the news reports that Amar Singh and Ahmed Patel had been exonrated in the cash-for vote scam. " I know that there is a question of privilege is involved in it and I do not want to comment till the report is tabled in the house.

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Onkar Singh in New Delhi