‘Naxalism is a bigger threat than it is perceived to be, and Centre should treat it as national problem’

Shortcomings blight the Centre’s policy on dealing with Maoists and that include failure to put together all available resources to strengthen the campaign against them and lack of seriousness such an endeavour requires, Chhattisgarh Chief Minister Raman Singh has said. He, however, acknowledged that he was getting decent support from New Delhi when it came to the deployment of Central forces.

In an interview to The Hindu here on Wednesday, Mr. Singh said the Centre’s policy had failed to bring together planning and intelligence-gathering; this affected anti-Maoist operations.

Long-term strategy

“There should have been one centre to disseminate all Naxalism-related information to the States. Besides, there should be a long-term strategy, which we should have worked out by now. So far, there is no success in this coordination,” he said. The Centre should have played an active role in this inter-State coordination.

Naxalism, he argued, was a bigger threat than what was perceived to be, and the Centre should treat it as a “national problem” and deal with it in Chhattisgarh as it had done in Punjab and Jammu and Kashmir “with all the force and strength.”

Mr. Singh wanted strict implementation of the Standard Operating Procedures for politicians.

“Elections are nearing, and activities of all political parties will increase. So we have to station forces at critical locations and ensure road-domination exercises [for VIP security]. I have ordered these things,” he said.

On Tuesday night, at the end of a series of meetings with senior officials, the Chief Minister decided to put Director-General of Police Ram Niwas in charge of security of politicians.

As for human rights violations, he said allegations “cannot be one-sided.” “So many people died, and was there no human rights violation? If the police commit a violation, it goes a long way, but the same [standards] are not applicable to Maoists when they commit crime every day. This cannot go on.”

Admitting that Saturday’s ambush that killed 27 people might have affected the image of his Bharatiya Janata Party to some extent, Mr. Singh said it would fight back with “all its ability and strength.”

He said the deaths of Congress leaders — Mahendra Karma, PCC president Nand Kumar Patel, his son Dinesh, and the former MLA, Uday Mudliar — were a personal loss to him.

“Patel and I shared a personal relationship. We travelled together on a tour and spent about two weeks, had an opportunity to interact closely. We used to visit each other’s families and participate in programmes,” he said.

Karma’s role

Appreciating Karma’s role in the fight against Maoists, Mr. Singh said Karma “boldly highlighted the issue in and outside the Assembly.” “Whatever plan the State has in place today to fight Naxals, Mahendra Karma played a defining role in framing it.”

He regretted that the Congress was using the massacre to score political mileage. “One should not make political gains out of a tragic incident.”

Congress to boycott meeting

Meanwhile, the Congress said it would not join an all-party meeting called by the Chief Minister for Thursday. Leader of the Opposition Rabindra Choubey told The Hindu that the government had “no right” to convene the meeting.

“We have lost our leaders as they [the BJP government] have no control in Bastar. They are useless, and there is no point in talking to them.”

He said the Congress would take part in the special session of the Assembly scheduled for early June “only if it is convened to pay homage [to the victims of the ambush].” “We will not participate in any discussion with this government any more.”