NEW DELHI.FEB.,21,Rueter Indian Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi said on Sunday, ~He was prepared to talk to anyone who renounced violence in order to end the strife in the Punjab,

But speaking after the deaths of at least 35 people in a wave of bombings and shootings in the North Indian State since Friday. Gandhi reiterated his resolve to fight “terrorism”.

“We have an open mind,” he said, “We will fight out the separatist forces but at the same time are ready to hold talks within the framework of the Constitution and with those who abjure violence”.

The Prime Minister was addressing & meeting of his Congress (I) Party ahead of Monday’s opening of the Parliamentary budget session, which is expected to be stormy.

Sikh freedom fighters fighting for an independent Khalistan (Land of the Pure) in the Punjab have killed more than 200 people this year. The slaughter is one of the major topics with which the Opposition plans to confront the government in Parliament.

The Opposition parties, frequently at odds with one another, agreed on Sunday to coordinate more effectively their attacks on the Congress (I) government which has an overwhelming majority in the Lok Sabha (Lower House).

They said they also planned to attack the government over lingering pay off allegations involving an arms deal with the Swedish company Bofors, the role of Indian peacekeeping troops in Sri Lanka and farmers’ demands for drought aid.

Measures to revitalize India’s economy following last year’s severe drought are sure to feature in Finance Minister Narain Dutt Tiwaris maiden budget on February 29.

Article extracted from this publication >> February 26, 1988