Diplomats divided over response to Lyngdoh offer

NEW DELHI Oct. 31. Opinion is divided among leading diplomatic missions here on how to respond to a statement made by the Chief Election Commissioner, J.M. Lyngdoh, that diplomats are permitted to watch the coming Gujarat elections.

The missions are assessing the response to Mr. Lyngdoh's offer. While a European Union source said the E.U. was not thinking in terms of sending anyone to watch the elections, the staffer of another mission said they were likely to send a representative to Gujarat.

He made it clear that their diplomats would not be watching the polls like they did in Jammu and Kashmir.

At his press conference on Monday, the Chief Election Commissioner had said that the Commission would make available the same facilities in Gujarat that had been extended to the diplomatic corps and the international media in Jammu and Kashmir.

Another member of a European mission said they would consult their other diplomatic colleagues before coming to any decision.

Yet another diplomatic source said they were still to take a final decision but it was possible that a diplomat from the mission would travel to Gujarat.

There is little doubt that the Gujarat elections are a "sensitive matter'' and no diplomatic mission would like to give the impression that they are going against the wishes and desires of the Central Government.

However, several leading missions have expressed concern in the past about the killings of Muslims in Gujarat earlier this year.

In Britain, for instance, there is a significant Gujarati immigrant population which may be keenly following the conduct of elections in the State.

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