Bharatiya Janata Party leader M. Venkaiah Naidu termed the release of Central aid of Rs. 1,000 crore to Karnataka by Prime Minister Manmohan Singh disappointing.

He urged the Union Government to immediately release Rs. 5,000 crore to the State as the first instalment for relief and rehabilitation measures in the rain-battered northern and coastal districts where a large number of people had lost their houses, belongings, crops and cattle.

The former BJP president told presspersons here on Saturday that Dr. Singh’s decision to release Rs. 1,000 crore “is not all sufficient and it is disappointing”. Funds at the disposal of the State Government were inadequate for relief and rehabilitation measures in 18 districts. The State Government should be assured of funds by the Centre for construction of schools, houses, community halls, gram panchayat buildings, repair of roads and power utilities, he said.

He also appealed to the Centre to immediately despatch a team of officials to assess the damage to private and public property. “Normal bureaucratic delays should not happen because rehabilitation is a massive exercise that could take at least six months to a year.”

The BJP leader, who visited Bellary, Koppal and Raichur districts to obtain firsthand information about the extent of damage in villages located on the banks of the Krishna, the Bhima and the Tungabhadra, suggested that the State and Union governments go in for a massive social forestry programme to prevent flash-floods in future.

Mr. Naidu said he would grant Rs. 1 crore from his MP’s Local Area Development fund for construction of schools in rain-hit districts of north Karnataka. He also announced a contribution of Rs. 1 lakh to the Chief Minister’ Relief Fund.

Tackling naxals

He criticised what he termed the piecemeal approach of the Union Government in tackling the naxal menace in various States and urged it to evolve a joint strategy involving all affected States to counter the Maoists.

Mr. Naidu said there was no meaning in holding talks with naxals or supporters of the Communist Party of India (Maoist) who were attempting to capture power through the barrel of a gun, which was unacceptable in a democracy.

A few days ago, Union Home Minister P. Chidambaram said that the Government was ready to hold a dialogue with naxals or supporters of the CPI (Maoist) provided they “abjure violence”.

The Union Government had no clear-cut policy to tackle the naxal menace in Bihar, Jharkhand, Orissa, Andhra Pradesh, Madhya Pradesh and parts of Karnataka. “Naxalite is not a social or economic issue. It is a political issue and the Centre should take it as a political challenge. We should go for a political campaign” to tackle the menace, Mr. Naidu said.

Stating that many young people joined the naxal cadre unaware of its ideology and the consequences, the BJP leader said “Maoists should take the path of democracy to secure power”.