The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Gogoi plans to tap public on Ulfa talks

Guwahati, Nov. 23: Dispur today decided to hold a conclave to solicit opinions from civil society on the peace efforts with Ulfa. This step has become necessary as the Assam government feels the People’s Consultative Group (PCG) was not a true representative of the state’s people but only represented the outfit.

“I am firmly of the opinion that without taking the people into confidence, such an exercise cannot yield results. Therefore, we have decided to hold at least one peace conclave,” chief minister Tarun Gogoi said while reacting to queries why the peace process has got bogged down and the PCG, too, is keeping mum.

Addressing a news conference, the chief minister added that it would be a government initiative and not solely one of the ruling Congress as Dispur wanted to involve everyone and every party. He, however, did not fix any timeframe as he had just returned from a trip to New Delhi for a health check-up.

“But I’m sure the PCG alone cannot make any breakthrough. They are not representative of the people of Assam but only a group nominated by Ulfa. The civil society has to be involved and we are working towards that,” he added.

Asserting that Dispur also wanted direct talks between Ulfa and the Centre, Gogoi said Ulfa was fast losing popularity as was evident from the all-round criticism of the outfit’s call to sportspersons to stay away from the National Games. “Everybody has criticised its boycott call. This is a very positive development,” he added.

On his part, Gogoi made it clear that Dispur will hold the Games on schedule, with all necessary security measures. “A section is trying to create doubts over the hosting of the Games but we will hold it on the dates fixed by the Indian Olympic Association. There should be no doubts on this count. Ulfa should realise that Assam can grow by remaining with India and I hope they will withdraw their boycott call. Violence will not lead to any solution,” asserted Gogoi.

Noted litterateur and one of the convenors of the PCG, Mamoni Raisom Goswami, declined to react to Gogoi’s remarks. “It is his view. I cannot say anything without discussing the matter with other PCG members. But all of us want peace and the chief minister of a state can do a lot,” she added.

Notwithstanding the debacle in the Jamunamukh bypoll, Gogoi exuded confidence, asserting that Dispur will not only hold the panchayat polls in April, as scheduled, but also win the elections.

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