Prime Minister Morarji Desai gave open support to human rights and the struggle of the peoples of Rhodesia and South Africa for majority rule. The question of human rights, he said, rested finally with the peoples of the countries themselves. Speaking at the Commonwealth Conference, Desai said it was necessary that Commonwealth countries should pay attention to the loss of lives in Rhodesia and South Africa. “We are justified in asking whether we are bringing sufficient pressure to ensure that political rights of the majority community receive their due fulfillment. It is not merely a question of political rights…” he said.
About 70 million voters in six states were set to vote in the first round of voting in the assembly elections whose results will have a crucial bearing on the presidential election due in August. The six states are: Himachal Pradesh, Orissa, Bihar, Madhya Pradesh, Rajasthan and UP. The elections will cover a total of 10 states and two Union territories, where polling will demonstrate for the first time in four months the relative strength of the Janata Party and the Congress. The assemblies were dissolved on April 30 and fresh elections ordered by the Janata government at the Centre on the ground that the Congress governments had lost the popular mandate with the party’s total rout in the Lok Sabha election.
From the relaxed mood with which the Bangladesh President, Gen Ziaur Rahman, came out after his one-hour talk with the Indian Prime Minister, Morarji Desai, it
appears certain that relations between the two neighbours would become normal soon. Desai is understood to have made it clear to Gen Ziaur Rahman that he would give asylum to those who ask for it. They would not be asked to go back. However, they would not be allowed to indulge in hostile activities against Bangladesh while in India.