New Delhi: India Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi called Saturday for reconciliation with the Sikh minority, improved ties with India’s neighbors and balanced relations with the superpowers. In his first major address since winning a record landslide election victory, Gandhi also pledged to battle violence, separatism and religious fanaticism. ‘‘The dust and din of the elections are behind us,” he said in an unemotional nationally-broadcast address, delivered in a monotone and read from a monitor. ‘‘The passions they generated must now make way for reconciliation.” Gandhi said his first priority is to protect the lives, property and rights of all of India’s many religious, ethnic and linguistic groups a clear reference to its 13 million Sikhs. ‘‘We must cure the minds where hatred and prejudice arise and grow,” he said, reading his speech first in English, then in Hindi. “We must take the campaign for unity to every village and every street of every town. An ideological battle against communal fanaticism must be waged in our schools and universities, in our workplaces and in our media.” Gandhi said his new government would give top priority to solving the crisis in Punjab state, where Sikhs have been waging a relentless campaign for greater autonomy. Gandhi’s mother and predecessor, Indira Gandhi, was assassinated Oct. 31 by two Sikh security guards, apparently in revenge for last June’s Army assault on the sacred Golden Temple in Amritsar. Gandhi, 40, was appointed India’s sixth and youngest prime minister within hours of his mother’s death. His Congress party won a record victory in parliamentary elections at year’s end, giving him a five-year mandate at the helm of the world’s biggest democracy. “In Punjab and elsewhere, all patriotic forces must repudiate those who preach separatism and practice violence,’ he said. “There cannot, and will not, be any concession to separatist ideologies and to the cult of violence.” Gandhi said Sikhs, who make up just 2 percent of the national population but form a slight majority in Punjab, were as vital a part of the country as any other community. On foreign policy, Gandhi said he would follow the “well-tested and consistent”’ non-aligned course of his mother and grandfather, Jawaharlal Nehru, India’s first prime minister. ‘Our commitment to non-alignment and a new world economic order are unshakable,”’ he said. ‘‘This means a total dedication to the twin causes of peace and development 3 and upholding the principles of non-interference and _ non-intervention.”’ Gandhi said he would concentrate on improving India’s troubled relations with its neighbors, including Pakistan, its opponent in three wars since independence in 1947. ‘‘We do have some problems,’ said Gandhi, who is also India’s Foreign Minister. ‘But we _are determined to resolve them on the basis of mutual respect, sovereign equality and friendship.”

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January 11 1985