GUWAHATI, April 8 � Union Home Minister P Chidambaram today played the peace card ahead of the second phase of Assam Assembly election and commented that the State can expect significant progress in the ULFA-Centre peace process within 2011 if the Congress party is voted to power at Dispur.
Chidambaram also claimed that peace talks with at least two or three militant groups of Assam would take concrete shape in 2011.
He, while urging the voters to exercise their right in favour of Congress, said that the people should vote for Congress for the sake of peace and uninterrupted progress in the ULFA-Centre peace process.
"A non-Congress Government could effect certain kind of interruptions and we might have to start from the scratch," the Union Home Minister told media persons at a press conference here at Rajiv Bhawan.
On the whereabouts of ULFA 'C-in-C' Paresh Baruah and whether him remaining elusive would have any bearing on the fate of the peace parleys, Chidambaram said, " Paresh Baruah is not in India nor is he in Bangladesh. We have some information about his whereabouts but those are not confirmed. Once he is located, we would see whether or not he can be brought to the negotiation table."
"But if he does not come then there is nothing we can do. We would have to continue with the peace talks," he pointed out.
Exuding confidence that the Congress would emerge with majority of seats in the State Assembly elections, the Union Home Minister gave an account of the 'remarkable development' that the State has witnessed in the last ten years.
"The State is clearly on the development and growth path. It has also witnessed a dramatic change in the security scene with number of violent activities going down. We had adopted 'fair but firm' stance and the right mixture of both has resulted in the dramatic decline in violence," Chidambaram stated.
He, while asserting that the Centre was able to bring most of the insurgent groups to the negotiation table, informed that the draft for the peace talks with UPDS and the DHD factions have already been finalized and talks with NDFB ( pro-talk) was also on.
The Union Home Minister however maintained that the anti-talk faction of the NDFB has not yet responded the Government's proposal.
Amidst reports about CPI (Maoist) cadres making strong base in Assam, the Union Minister also said, as per my report, there is no significant presence of the group in Assam.
He, however, informed that there are some isolated inputs about the Maoists trying to establish contacts with some of the militant groups in Assam.