Separatists being controlled because India is a democracy, says Venkaiah Naidu

NEW DELHI: Union Minister of Urban Development and Parliamentary Affairs M. Venkaiah Naidu said on Saturday that the Indian Government is very keen to maintain good relations with all neighbouring countries, including Pakistan.

Separatists being controlled because India is a democracy, says Venkaiah Naidu

Talking to media after casting his vote in the BBMP elections that are being held today, Naidu said, What we need is to maintain good relations with our neighbours, including Pakistan. We (India) are trying to restore normalcy in relations. We are a democracy.

When pointedly asked why India was unable to control separatist elements in Jammu and Kashmir and in the north east of the country, the union minister rejected this contention, and repeated, We are a democracy, and that’s why we are controlling these separatists.

Naidu’s comments came a day after the Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) sent across a strong message to Pakistan that insisted that there are only two stakeholders in the talks between India and Pakistan and added that New Delhi is committed to discuss all issues bedeviling the relationship peacefully and bilaterally.

With Pakistan insisting that it has a right to meet with Kashmiri leaders as it believes that they are equal stakeholders in the resolution of the so-called Kashmir dispute, MEA spokesman Vikas Swaroop, speaking on behalf of the Indian Government, said, “There has been a pattern to Pakistan’s approach after the UFA summit and today’s position is a culmination of that approach.”

“Pakistan took 22 days to respond to Indian proposal to meet in New Delhi. It then proposed an agenda that was in variance completely with what the two Prime Ministers had agreed upon in UFA. Together, these two actions indicated its reluctance to go forward with sincerity on the agreed process,” he further said.

Swaroop said that the Pakistani High Commissioner invited Hurriyat leaders to consult with the visiting NSA even before confirming either the program or the agenda.

“India has always held the position that there are only two stakeholders in our relationship, not three,” he said.

“India remains committed to discussing issues with Pakistan peacefully and bilaterally. Unilateral impositions of new conditions and distortions of the agreed agenda cannot be the basis for going forward,” he added.

Earlier, Pakistan’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs said that it would be impossible for the country to accept the advice of the Government on India that Sartaj Aziz, Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif’s Advisor on Foreign Affairs and National Security, may not meet the Hurriyat leaders.

National Security Advisor Ajit Doval is scheduled to meet his Pakistani counterpart Sartaj Aziz for the talks in the national capital on Sunday.

Bengaluru is going to polls on Saturday and it is being seen as a day of reckoning not only for those who are standing for the elections, but also for all Bengaluru citizens.

People have started queuing up at polling booths since this morning. Joining the three big players in the electoral fray, are several contestants from new-age parties.

Many hopefuls who did not get tickets, have decided to contest independently.