BJP president visits Manipur to allay fears of northeasterners

National president of the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) Nitin Gadkari has appealed to the people of the northeast to return to their educational institutions and work places in the southern States since there were no violent campaigns against them.

Rumours of impending violence had forced them to flee home.

Mr. Gadkari said Karnataka Chief Minister Jagadish Shettar had assured him there was complete normality in the State.

The BJP leader, who made a two-day visit to Manipur, was talking to journalists in the BJP office on Friday shortly before emplaning for Pune.

He said the police had beefed up security in the cities and small towns in the south. Mr. Gadkari said he had come to express solidarity with the people and to make a spot assessment. He said the Union government had run three special trains to transport the students and employees from the southern States in the wake of the panic triggered by the rumours.

According to him, the conflict in Assam was not among the people of the country, but between foreigners and Indians. There was no communal dimension to the crisis, he said. If the BJP came to power after the September panchayat elections, there would be lots of changes, Mr. Gadkari promised. The BJP has not won a single seat in the 60-member Manipur Assembly in the last two elections.