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Shinde seeks united effort for Assam peace, BJP slams vote-bank politics

New Delhi, Aug 9 - It was not the first time Assam saw violence, Home Minister Sushilkumar Shinde said Thursday, stressing that it was the duty of all political parties to work for peace, even as the BJP slammed the Congress's "vote bank politics" and sought focus on the "larger issue" of demographic change.

Speaking in the Rajya Sabha after Leader of Opposition Arun Jaitley blamed the Congress directly for encouraging cross-border infiltration, Shinde said it was the duty of all political parties to work for peace in the state.

His reply remained similar to that he made in the Lok Sabha, despite Jaitley stressing that they wanted to know how the the government will address the issue of infiltration and changing demography.

"The statement that we expect is how did the demographic character change and is this social tension a fall out of that. Please address the larger issue," Jaitley said.

"Government has said there will be a CBI (Central Bureau of Investigation) enquiry. Don't treat this as a simple case of law and order problem. We should not miss out the real issue why the violence happened," he said.

The BJP leader also warned that "such situation (of violence) may get repeated", blaming Congress for allowing infiltration to increase its vote bank.

Jaitley said the government allowed Bangladeshi immigrants to settle in Assam when their traditional vote bank started depleting.

"This design unconsciously was for vote-bank politics. This overlapped with designs across the border," he said, adding that despite good relations with Bangladesh, this could cause a threat to the territorial integrity of Assam.

Stating that he "understands the feelings of opposition parties and shares their concern", Shinde said talking on communal lines on the issue would pose a threat to national integrity.

He also said it was not the issue of one party.

"It is an issue of worry, not party issue," Shinde said, "when such situations arises, talking about Hindu-Muslim is hurting national unity".

The BJP, however, remained dissatisfied with the reply. BJP leader Balbir Punj even said the minister's answer was like that of a student, who would write the same answer, whatever the question was.


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