Prez: I share anguish of youth

New Delhi, Dec. 25 -- On a day home minister Sushil Kumar Shinde appeared to bracket the protesters at India Gate with Maoists, President Pranab Mukherjee finally broke his silence. He called for strict action by the government, to be implemented without any further delay.

During the visit of delegations from the BJP and CPI(M), Mukherjee said he "shared their anguish and understood the anger and strong reaction of the youth to the incident".

Shinde's remark had earlier provoked sharp responses when he insisted there was no need for him to go to India Gate to talk to the protesters.

"It is very easy to ask the home minister to go to India Gate and talk. Tomorrow, if another party demonstrates, then shouldn't the home minister go there. Tomorrow Congress and BJP will demonstrate; Maoists will come here to demonstrate with weapons," he told the news channel CNN-IBN.

Mukherjee, however, struck a different note. He told a delegation of 10 organisations including the CPI(M) and BJP that "the question is how to respond and convert it into strict action which can be implemented without delay", said his press secretary Venu Rajamony.

CPI(M)'s Brinda Karat and BJP's LK Advani, Arun Jaitley and Sushma Swaraj were a part of the delegation. Karat told HT, "The president also said that within the limits of the power vested in him by the Constitution, he will do whatever was possible."

The BJP delegation was also assured that their demand for a special parliament session will be conveyed to the PM as there was a sense of 'national outrage'.

Published by HT Syndication with permission from Hindustan Times.