Prime Minister Manmohan Singh should immediately call an all-party meeting to finalise a solution to the unrest in Assam and adjoining regions, the former Prime Minister and national president of the Janata Dal (Secular), H.D. Deve Gowda, told The Hindu here on Tuesday.

“I am ready to meet the political leaders and the local population in the north-eastern region, which could pave the way for a solution,” he said. “It is much more than a problem of the Bodo tribals, and of immigrants from Bangladesh. As the Prime Minister (1996-97), I led a high-level delegation to the north-east and announced a package of Rs.6,100 crore for the overall development of the region. The problem in the north-east calls for a collective political decision, and none of the parties should seek to gain political mileage from it,” Mr. Gowda said.

He said the present problem is a national one, and though the visit of the Prime Minister, UPA chairperson Sonia Gandhi and NDA chairman L.K. Advani would help to “instil confidence in the affected people which should enable them to return home” the situation called for much more.

He said all steps should be taken to prevent eruption of violence in the region and its spread to other States. What happened in Mumbai on Saturday should not happen elsewhere.

On the anti-corruption movement, in particular the campaigns of Baba Ramdev and Anna Hazare against the Congress, Mr. Gowda suggested that pending Parliament approving the Lokpal Bill, the Prime Minister and the UPA should work towards constituting a high-level constitutional body for tackling corruption. The body should comprise a retired Chief Justice of India, and a Comptroller and Auditor-General, a Director-General of Police, and a Union Cabinet Secretary (all retired) and a senior advocate of the Supreme Court.

The members should be identified by the Prime Minister in consultation with the presiding officers and Opposition leaders in the two houses of Parliament, and the incumbent Chief Justice of the Supreme Court. Further, for the institution to be effective and unbiased, it should be directly under the control of the President and not the executive.

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