press trust of india
BANGALORE, 18 JUNE: Offering an olive branch, the new Congress government in Karnataka today appealed to Maoists to come forward to hold a dialogue with it and said it would welcome their surrender.
Spelling out his five-week-old dispensation’s policy on Left wing extremism, Chief Minister Siddaramaiah said: “The government is ready to have a dialogue with the Maoists or Left wing extremists. If they want to surrender, we welcome and we are ready for talks with them.”
He said the government would also take up developmental works in backward regions and areas inhabited by the tribals, that are prone to Maoist extremism.
“This is the stand of the government. We appeal to all those involved in these (Maoist) activities to come forward for a dialogue across the table,” the chief minister said during an interaction with journalists.
Mr Siddaramaiah said the Maoist problem was “not very serious” in Karnataka where only three or four districts had been affected. The state government had requested the Centre to declare these as Maoist-hit districts as that would help in getting grants, he said.
‘I don’t want to contest polls after 70’
Karnataka Chief Minister Siddaramaiah today said he does not want to contest elections after attaining the age of 70. “After five years, I will be 70 years old. I do not want to contest elections after 70 years of age,” he said. Mr Siddaramaiah, however, added he would continue to be in public life and politics beyond the age of 70.