End political neglect of tribal issues: Ramesh



New Delhi: Terming the issues raised by Maoists as a "wake up call", Union minister Jairam Ramesh today asked parties to end "political neglect of tribal issues" in view of the growing Red menace.

Delivering a public lecture on "21st Century Maoism in India" here, he said no political party can ignore the issues raised by the Maoists, but expressed disappointment over the response of the Reds towards the government's call for talks.

"Of every indicator, the tribals are at the bottom line. Education, health, nutrition, sanitation, agriculture... I think issues that they (Maoists) have raised, advertently or inadvertently are the issues we cannot ignore... It's a wake up call," he said, terming as "the great tragedy" of the society the fact that it required the Maoists to wake India up on the issues of tribals.

Noting that Dalits and Muslims are major forces in the electoral politics, Ramesh said, "No political party makes tribal issues in the mainstream of their political activities the way they deal with the Dalit issues or Muslim issues."

Observing that the Indian political system is "very flexible" and the country defeated insurgency in Punjab and some northeastern states through political process, he said "the political parties must expand their presence in the tribal areas" so that the Maoist problem can be addressed politically.

He referred to former Home Minister P Chidambaram's call for talks with Maoists without giving up arms, ideology and cadres but said the response of Maoist chief Ganpati to this has created a "political impasse".

He said in an interview, the Maoist chief has put foreword the condition that "all out war" has to be withdrawn, "the ban on the party and the mass organisation (CPI-Maoist) has to be withdrawn, illegal detention and torture of the Maoists have to be stopped and they should be immediately released" for talks and these conditions have created a situation that is so difficult that no progress can be made.

PTI