Government divided over how to tackle the menace, says Jaitley

The Centre on Thursday came under attack from the Opposition in the Rajya Sabha over its “failure” to rein in Naxals, with Leader of the Opposition Arun Jaitley accusing the Congress-led United Progressive Alliance government of being “divided” over how to tackle the menace that recently claimed the lives of 76 CRPF personnel at Dantewada in Chhattisgarh.

Assuring Home Minister P. Chidambaram of full support from all parties in the fight against Naxals, Mr. Jaitley said: “We do not need a divided government… what we do not need is a government which tries to pull down its Home Minister. Even some senior Congress leaders were making his task difficult.” The senior BJP leader was referring to Congress general secretary Digvijay Singh's recent article in which he had criticised Mr. Chidambaram's handling of the Naxal issue.

Mr. Jaitley lambasted Railway Minister Mamata Banerjee for claiming that there were no Maoists in Lalgarh. “There seems to be a paradoxical situation [at the Centre] where the Home Minister is willing to fight but conflicting responses are coming [from his own colleagues]. Is this the way Maoists are to be fought,” he asked.

Mr. Jaitley criticised human rights activists for siding with Naxals and described them as “the overground face of the underground Naxalites.” He urged the government to take up development works in the Naxal-affected areas on a war-footing so that people in these States could not be easily influenced by the Naxals.

Sitaram Yechury of the CPI(M) said the UPA government had a Cabinet Minister from an ally who did not share the Prime Minister's concern over the Naxal menace. “As many as 28 all-party meetings have been called since last year to discuss the Naxal violence, but not a single one was attended by this ally in the Cabinet,” he said in an apparent reference to the Trinamool Congress.

Demanding an “immediate decision” on the Cabinet Minister [Ms. Banerjee] allegedly providing support to the Maoists, Mr. Yechury criticised Mr. Chidambaram for targeting West Bengal Chief Minister Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee. “It is a national problem ... it is not the time to score political points. The buck stops with the nation and the government at the helm [Centre]. A unified, holistic and coordinated approach is needed to solve the Naxal issue,” he said.

D. Raja of the CPI blamed the neo-liberal policies of the government for the Naxal problem as it was hurting the lives of innocent tribals.

More In: National | News