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BJP yatras may create tension : Manmohan

Written by: Staff

New Delhi, Mar 20: Expressing concern that the proposed 'national integration yatras' by BJP leaders L K Advani and Rajnath Singh may create 'tension', Prime Minister Manmohan Singh today (Mar 20, 2006) appealed to all parties and peace loving people to 'work together' to maintain peace and communal harmony.

''I sincerely believe that these things (yatras) can sometimes create tension,'' Dr Singh told reporters after a function held at Rashtrapati Bhavan to present the ''Padma Awards''.

To a specific question on whether the yatras could vitiate the communal atmosphere, he said ''I hope nothing will be done to disturb communal harmony. It is the obligation of all parties and people with goodwill to ensure that peace is maintained'' in the country, he said.

Advani and Rajnath Singh plan to take out yatras from Dwarka (Gujarat) and Puri (Orissa) respectively from April 6, covering a total of 17 states and a distance of 10,800 km before reaching Delhi on May 10.

The yatras were announced in the wake of the twin terrorist attacks in Varanasi.

Dr Singh also took questions on various subjects, including the Indo-US nuclear deal and the second roundtable on Kashmir to be held in Srinagar in May.

Asked about Pakistan President Pervez Musharraf's apprehension that the nuclear deal with the US would tilt the balance of power in the region, Dr Singh said ''that is the General Saheb's view. I don't have to comment on everything he says.'' Confirming that he would be travelling to Srinagar for the roundtable, he said, ''Our doors are always open to all shades of opinion,'' including the Hurriyat which had boycotted the first round held here on February 5.

To a specific query whether the Hurriyat leaders would be attending, he said, ''All Indians are welcome and the government is willing to listen to all sorts of views.''

Asked about National Conference President Oman Abdullah's recent meeting with Gen Musharraf and his comments that India ''must seize the present opportunity'' for making peace with Islamabad and resolving the Kashmir issue, he said, ''I will talk to Omar.''

To a question on BJP's allegation that the UPA government was involved in major corruption in the Rs 1,800 crore scorpene submarine deal with France, he said he would not like to make any comment as he was not aware of the issue.

Earlier in the day, Advani and NDA Convenor George Fernandez had demanded the immediate detention of middleman Abhishek Verma, son of former Congress MP, and his associates for their alleged invovement in the deal.


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