Lalgarh (West Bengal), Dec 8 (IANS) The doors are open for a dialogue with the Maoists, said Rural Development Minister Jairam Ramesh, stressing the importance of "sensitive development" and "political process" to solve the problem posed by the left-wing extremists.
"We are telling the Maoists that our government is ready for a dialogue. Our doors are open for talks," Ramesh said at a rally convened by the Congress in this Maoist-affected area of West Midnapore district. Lalgarh is about 150 km west of Kolkata.
Ramesh said the central government had given the call for talks despite knowing fully well that the Maoists had no faith in the Indian democracy, and believed in the doctrine of violence.
"They want to raze our assemblies, Lok Sabha and Rajya Sabha," the minister said.
Admitting that injustice had been perpetrated on tribals, especially those living in forest areas, Ramesh said the forest rights act was passed to give title deeds to these tribals as the government was aware of the need to launch special programmes for them.
"We believe that through sensitive development and the political process we can make them to beat a retreat," he said.
The minister said violence cannot be the answer to violence. "Bullets cannot be answered with bullets. Bullets can be answered through discussions".
"There is need for action by the central forces, but at the same time there has to be development, justice and the political process".
Ramesh claimed that Lalgarh - a hotbed of Maoist violence for years after the Nov 2, 2008, landmine blast triggered by the left-wing extremists on then chief minister Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee's convoy - as also the entire three districts of West Midnapore, Bankura and Purulia have now changed completely due to the help provided by the central government and the central paramilitary troopers.
"What was the situation in Lalgarh three years back? How is the situation now? How was Junglemahal (comprising forested stretches of West Midnapore, Bankura and Purulia) three years back? What is the situation now?" he asked.
The Trinamool Congress government of Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee has claimed credit for an improvement in the situation in these areas.