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By Ibankyntiew Mawrie
SHILLONG: Meghalaya Health Minister and BJP leader, AL Hek on Thursday slammed the opposition Congress for reportedly doubting and criticising the saffron party in the state over its “silence” on the issue of Inner Line Permit (ILP).
“Let the Congress do its own duty. We know what we have to do. They have their own opinion; I have nothing to say on the opinion of others,” Hek told TNT-The Northeast Today.
He clarified that the party’s stand on the issue is clear, given the fact that the BJP had also agreed to the resolution passed by the Assembly in December last year to urge the government of India to grant ILP to Meghalaya.
“It was a unanimous decision (resolution on ILP). So, there is no reason to question our stand on the issue. We are all in this together,” he added.
To a question on whether the state BJP will take up this issue with the central party leadership, Hek replied in the negative; however, he said that if required, the BJP will be going as part of the government.
“Why should we go separately? If required, we will do it but since the chief minister is taking the lead, we will follow the CM. We are like an army - If the CM says, 'Let’s go to Delhi for ILP', the BJP is ready,” Hek added.
When asked whether there is a possibility for Meghalaya to get ILP, Hek said, “That is the call of the central government. It depends from state to state but one thing is clear - Meghalaya is united for ILP.”
CONFLICT WITHIN BJP
Reacting to a question on rumours on internal conflict within the state BJP, Hek denied all rumours and said that the party is very strong in Meghalaya while also exuding confidence of leading the government in the state in 2023.
“We are a strong party and I assure you that in 2023, it will be a BJP-led government in Meghalaya. There is no conflict in BJP. We are not a divided house. We are going to fight the 2023 assembly election and will lead the government,” he said confidently.
HEK ON PEACE TALKS WITH HNLC
Meanwhile, the BJP leader, who has been actively following up on the peace talks' proposal of the proscribed Hynniewtrep National Liberation Council (HNLC) with the central government, informed that the union minister of state (MoS) for Home Affairs, G. Kishan Reddy had called him on December 8 to enquire about the peace talks.
“I told the MoS that we are still collecting more information which will be submitted to the government of India; we will go and discuss it again with the Centre,” Hek said.
When asked about the progress of the discussion with the Centre on the matter, Hek said that at present, he had asked the state Political Department to provide details of the previous discussions between the government of Meghalaya and the HNLC.
“We are definitely going to submit the report after the COVID situation improves in the state. Definitely, some positive outcome is expected,” he assured.
When asked whether the HNLC had tried to reach out to him, Hek replied in the affirmative. “The HNLC had tried to reach out to me once only. I told them that I am doing my part to ensure the peace talks with the government of India happens,” he added.
Hek admitted that there was a delay in taking this matter forward due to the pandemic. “We have received very good response from the government of India. We need to follow some formalities but, because of the COVID situation, we are not able to invite anybody,” he said.
Commenting on the recent IED blast at Sookilo in East Jaintia Hills district, to which the HNLC had claimed responsibility, Hek urged the proscribed outfit not to resort to violence and to join the mainstream.