Development being brought about in Naxal-affected areas has scared the rebels, says Jairam Ramesh
Referring to Saturday’s Maoist attack in Chhattisgarh as “holocaust,” Rural Development Minister Jairam Ramesh on Sunday said the incident showed that left-wing extremists had no faith in democracy.
While he condemned the “barbaric incident,” Mr. Ramesh identified politics and progress as the way forward. “What happened yesterday was a holocaust. I was with my friends Nandkumar Patel, Kawasai Lakma, Mahendra Karma [the slain leaders] on Thursday in Bijapur district and before leaving I had promised to rejoin them very soon. I did not expect, anticipate or imagine the massacre that took place,” he said.
Claiming that development being brought about in Naxal-affected areas had scared the Maoists, Mr. Ramesh said the Congress had promoted political activism in the area.
He reiterated that the government’s two-pronged strategy of providing security and carrying out development activities would not be changed in the wake of the incident, but would be intensified. “I believe that out of the 82 identified Naxal-affected districts, development work needs to be focused on 20 to 22 severely affected ones. The situation in these districts, where the Maoists’ have a strong presence, is very serious.”
Over the past couple of years, Mr. Ramesh said, the Congress made a determined effort to expand and strengthen Naxal-affected districts by implementing crucial rural development programmes such as MGNREGS, Indira Awas Yojana and watershed mission, which have begun to show their impact.
“However, Maoists certainly don’t like it and demonstrated once again that they have no faith whatsoever in our political system, in democracy, in electoral politics and constitutional values and all the talk of tribal welfare for them is a sham, is an excuse, and an alibi for perpetrating the violent overthrown of a democratic system,” he said, insisting that “we have to move above politics and this issue cannot be politicised.”
Nagesh Prabhu reports from Bangalore
In the wake of Saturday’s Maoist attack, Union Minister of Tourism and Subodh Kant Sahay has said the Raman Singh-led government stood exposed in its claim that it had contained Naxal violence.
Speaking to reporters after meeting Karnataka Chief Minister Siddaramaiah, Mr. Sahay said the incident resulted from intelligence failure. “It is a serious matter that [the State government] did not have intelligence on the movement of [as many as] 200 to 300 Maoists. It’s total negligence on the part of the government.”
Mr. Sahay, who is also the Ranchi MP, urged that Maoist-affected States such as Chhattisgarh, Jharkhand and Odisha should make coordinated efforts to check Naxal violence.