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No more talks with agitators: PMO

Sources said PM had taken a 'huge risk' in putting aside normal procedures to meet students, reports Vinod Sharma.

india Updated: May 30, 2006 03:25 IST

The Supreme Court's decision to examine the volatile quota question has closed the option of further talks between agitating students and the Government.

The Centre, which is in the process of setting up mechanisms to address the protesters' concerns, feels the medicos should return to work, recognising the court's advice and the prime minister's assurance.

Sources in the PMO said Prime Minister Manmohan Singh had taken a "huge risk" in putting aside normal procedures to meet the agitators last Friday. A dialogue at that level does not happen without a settlement that has been negotiated in advance by Government functionaries.

"The PM met the students because he wanted to give them a sense of belonging and was sincere about addressing their problems," the sources told HT. They said the eight-point package announced by MoS Oscar Fernandes on Sunday had covered all the suggestions the agitators made at their meeting with Singh.

Since then, the Government has moved forward and appointed the Oversight Committee headed by Congress MP Veerappa Moily. On the basis of reports by three sub-committees, comprising educationists and other experts, the panel will submit (by August 31) the blueprint for developing the infrastructure to accommodate additional students.

The ministers dealing with the quota issue -- Pranab Mukherjee, Fernandes and Arjun Singh -- are, however, travelling abroad and will not be back before May 4-5. From the official standpoint, their presence in Delhi is not required as "the Government has done whatever is possible and is right", said the sources.

They claimed the majority of the agitators were satisfied with the outcome of their talks with the Government "but certain vested interests were keeping them from withdrawing the stir".

At his meeting with the students, the PM had promised to protect the interests of all sections, including the general-category students. But at the same time, he had underscored the supremacy of Parliament, which passed the 93rd constitutional amendment for quotas in institutes of higher learning.

The sources said the students would have to repose faith in some institution or authority to attain their objective. And the best course available to them now is to "heed the court's advice and recognise the PM's sincerity" in addressing their concerns.