Prime Minister Manmohan Singh has asked the naxalites to adopt democratic means and fight elections to gain power.
“The government was willing to have a dialogue with them, but it would not tolerate extremist violence at any cost,” he said.
Dr Singh came on a half-day’s visit to Andhra Pradesh on Sunday, just four days after the state government re-imposed the ban on Communist Party of India (Maoist) and its seven frontal organizations on August 17 following a spurt in naxalite violence after peace talks broke down earlier this year.
Participating in the silver jubilee celebrations of Communist Party of India (Marxist) Telugu daily ‘Praja Shakti’ here, Dr Singh said he was recently heartened to hear the radical balladeer Gaddar say on a national television channel that ‘the killing of innocent people does not help win a cause.’
“This is an important liberal principle. Our democracy allows us the freedom to espouse our cause and win people over to our point of view. I have said this to the Hurriyat in Kashmir and to the ULFA in Assam and now I say this to the naxalites in Andhra Pradesh, that there is no grievance that cannot be redressed through democratic means and through dialogue,” he said.
Asking naxalites to test the political waters through democratic means, he said, “every political group that claims to represent the interests of people, or of a section, must test the popularity at the hustings, in the polling booth.
“Go ask the people to vote for you and support you. Come to the legislature and enact the laws that you wish to see in place. By all means, use the media to convey your views. By all means, use the legislature to convert them into policies.
“In a democracy, the power of the people flows through the ballot box, not from the barrel of a gun,” the prime minister stated.
Asserting that no civilized society could tolerate violence and extremism, he warned that no one had the right to take the law into their own hands.
“No society can pardon those who kill innocent people. Faced with such terror tactics, the government will have no other option than to fight such groups and their ideology of hatred. Extremism of any form based on any divisive ideology, cannot be tolerated in any civilized, democratic society,” Dr Singh said.
By Syed Amin Jafri