A day after Maoist leader Kishenji's conditional offer of peace talks with the central government, social activist Swami Agnivesh expressed disagreement with the 90-day ceasefire demanded by the rebels.
Agnivesh, who was requested by Union Home Minister P. Chidambaram to negotiate talks between the Centre and the Maoists, said on Wednesday that talks should be preceded by a ceasefire of 72 hours not 90 days as demanded by Kishenji on Tuesday.
Welcoming the latest Maoist offer of talks, Agnivesh said they should announce a firm date for the ceasefire in writing instead of trying to bargain through the media.
On Tuesday, CPI(Maoist) politburo member Koteshwar Rao alias Kishenji said talks could take place if Chidambaram was removed from his post, independent mediators were brought in to broker talks and a 90-day ceasefire was observed.
Kishenji's offer came after Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and President Pratibha Patil recently appealed to the rebels to hold talks with the Centre.
Agnivesh told HT, "The first step is cessation of hostilities for 72 hours, and not one that runs through 90 days. In my last letter to (slain Maoist leader) Azad on June 26, I explained in detail why the government needs 72 hours. The specifics regarding peace talks have already been laid down to the Maoist leadership. Kishenji should abide by this letter."
"Kishenji should come forward with a concrete step, not only public statements. Earlier too, he gave proposals for peace talks and a ceasefire for 72 hours. Kishenji should produce something in writing and I will approach the government with that," Agnivesh said.
Agnivesh also welcomed Trinamool chief Mamata Banerjee's indication that she could mediate in a dialogue.