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Maya sings peace tune, calls for talks

Mayawati at the news conference on her 57th birthday in New Delhi
on Tuesday. (PTI)

New Delhi, Jan. 15: Bahujan Samaj Party chief Mayawati today called for talks to defuse the recent border row with Pakistan, saying war wasn’t the “only option” as she warned against hasty decisions in a birthday appeal that also laid bare her ambitions.

The note of restraint, amid shrill cries for a “befitting reply” to the mutilation of an Indian jawan, came on a day the leader from Uttar Pradesh, who turned 57, projected herself as a potential future Prime Minister.

“I can’t say that war is the only option. Matters should be resolved peacefully. If the Government of India is serious, then I believe it can find a solution through talks,” the former chief minister told a media conference, asked if the only response to the brutality should be war.

The BJP, the main Opposition, and the Samajwadi Party, Mayawati’s principal rival in the heartland, have both taken a hardline stand on the latest ceasefire violation along the Line of Control and the killing of two jawans, one of whom was beheaded.

“The only solution is war…. If Pakistan has to be given a befitting reply for its brutality, India should go in for war,” Ram Gopal Yadav, Samajwadi general secretary and party boss Mulayam Singh Yadav’s brother, said in Mirzapur.

BJP veteran leader and leader of Opposition in the Lok Sabha Sushma Swaraj has been pressing the government to “act tough”.

“We will teach Pakistan a lesson. They took one head, we will bring back 10 heads,” Sushma had said yesterday after meeting the widow of the beheaded soldier, Hem Raj.

Mayawati appealed to people to sink caste differences and vote for her party in the 2014 elections for a “reliable and effective alternative” to the Congress and the BJP.

“I appeal to the people to rise above caste lines and vote for the Bahujan Samaj Party and we promise to provide a reliable and effective alternative to the Congress and the BJP,” the Dalit leader said.

Mayawati held the Centre responsible for the death of the two soldiers. “The government has never taken a serious stand on the LoC issue. Firing across the LoC has now become a routine affair which has claimed the lives of several of our soldiers,” she said.

She also accused the government of increasing the burden on the common man by raising fuel prices.

The BSP leader, whose party had bailed the UPA out on FDI in retail, however, evaded a direct reply when asked why she was backing the government.

She blamed the BJP-led NDA, saying “lack of discipline and direction” in the Opposition combine had given the UPA government a “new lease of life”.

“Had the NDA been serious, several UPA allies would have joined them,” she said.