PRESS BRIEFINGS
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Press Briefing 01 Sep 2008
Smt. Jayanthi Natarajan addressed the media today.

Smt. Jayanthi Natarajan said Indian National Congress expresses its grave concern over the tense and difficult situation in Orissa as a result of the brutal and vicious attacks by communal forces against Christians and Christian institutions and minorities.

The Chief Minister and the government of Orissa have been silent spectators to the terrible violence and terror that has been unleashed upon the minority community. There is a complete breakdown of law and order and terrible danger to the lives and properties of a large number of citizens in the Kandhmal and other districts of Orissa where violence is happening.

Two days ago Central Minority institutions all over the country formed a human chain and staged a peaceful protest against the acts of violence in Orissa. It is a mater of great shock and concern that the BJP government of Karnataka has issued a notice to minority institutions in Karnataka asking them to show-cause why a holiday was declared on that day and why the institutions staged peaceful demonstrations against the violence.

In this way, she said the BJP and the Sangh Parivar have not only held in inciting the violence but when citizens from across the country exhibit their protest in a peaceful manner, it is the height of fascism for the government to issue written notices asking why this peaceful demonstration was held. This exposes fascist and insensitive mindset of the communal forces led by the Sangh Parivar.

Smt. Natarajan said the people of this country have no faith whatsoever in investigations being attempted by the government of Orissa.

Therefore, she said the Indian National Congress demands that the Orissa government should refer the investigation to the CBI so that an impartial enquiry may be conducted and culprits brought to justice as soon as possible.

She said the Chief Minister of Orissa has to take the moral and Constitutional responsibility for the killings and violence in Orissa and we call upon the Chief Minister of Orissa to resign and step down from his office in view of his failure to control the rapid violence against minorities and minority institutions in Orissa.

Smt. Natarajan said the Indian National Congress welcomes the amicable settlement of the dispute worked out by committee appointed by the Governor and the Amarnath Shrine board with regard to the land that was to be set aside.

We would like to call upon all stakeholders to now peacefully implement the negotiated settlement. It is also a matter of satisfaction that major parties, both in the Valley and Jammu, the Indian National Congress, the National Conference, CPI-M and other parties, have also welcomed the settlement.

She said we hope the people of Jammu and Kashmir will continue to be united in their endeavor to bring about development to maintain communal harmony and continue to be the manifestation of secular fabric of India. The State and Central governments should ensure that there is no sense of alienation in any section of the society.

Smt. Natarajan said the State should provide all support to the Amarnath Shrine Board for the facilities of the yatra and we call upon the government of India to extend full support as they do for all communities. The Central and State governments should ensure that no voices are raised against the secular and integral character of Jammu and Kashmir.

She said we recognize that people from both the Valley and Jammu have suffered great personal and economic loss and both the Central and State governments should favorably consider compensation for loss of life and property.

She said the State and Central governments should also ensure strengthening economic security of the people by opening new trade links and this should be given special attention.

To a question on the electoral alliances in different States, she said so far the electoral issues are still not decided by the Congress Working Committee and the Congress President. As the time draws closure and the talks evolve there should be greater clarity on the electoral understanding issue.

To a question, she said there is no nomination culture and we have organization elections and very actively contested organizational elections in all the States and therefore, there is absolutely no nomination culture. We are the only party that has held elections according to the Constitution.

To a question, she said we welcome elections being conducted in the Youth Congress under the leadership of the General Secretary, Shri Rahul Gandhi, because he is giving a very special new direction and energizing the youth wing of the party.

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