The ongoing tug of war between the Congress-led UPA Government at the Centre and non-Congress-ruled States might cast a shadow at the Chief Ministers’ meet called by Union Home Minister Sushilkumar Shinde on April 15 as it is learnt that none of the BJP-ruled States or those where other parties are in power have so far sent in their confirmation letters to attend the high-level conference.
The meeting, which has been called to discuss issues related to police reforms, internal security and review overall law and order situation in the country, could well turn out to be only a Congress affair as so far only seven party-led States have confirmed their presence to the Ministry of Home Affairs.
The only exception so far is Jammu and Kashmir whose Chief Minister Omar Abdullah has agreed to show up at the conference in Delhi, sources said. His party — National Conference — is an ally in the UPA.
The Congress Chief Ministers that would be attending the conference are that of Delhi, Haryana, Maharashtra, Himachal Pradesh and Uttarakhand. Interestingly, of the seven Northeastern States, five — Assam, Arunanchal Pradesh, Manipur, Meghalaya and Mizoram — are under Congress rule, of which so far only two have confirmed their participation in the meeting, they added.
Congress is currently in power in 11 States, while the BJP Chief Ministers are running five States and have coalition governments in at least two other States.
The other key non-Congress, non-BJP ruled States are Tamil Nadu, West Bengal, Uttar Pradesh and Odisha.
NCTC may be discussed
Apart from discussing police reforms, Mr. Shinde was also likely to discuss controversial National Counter-Terrorism Centre (NCTC) with opposing Chief Ministers from BJP and other parties. Now this already-delayed project would face yet another setback.
The brainchild of his predecessor, Finance Minister P. Chidambaram, the NCTC was planned to strengthen India’s anti-terror paraphernalia. Sources said repeated opposition from some Chief Ministers has even forced Mr. Shinde to tone down the NCTC draft by removing certain controversial clauses to pacify opposing States.
Wary of encroachment
Notably, BJP Chief Ministers, particularly Gujarat’s Narendra Modi, and others such as Tamil Nadu’s Jayalalithaa, West Bengal’s Mamata Banerjee, Odisha’s Naveen Patniak and Bihar’s Nitish Kumar are against the NCTC which, they allege, is an attempt by the Centre to encroach upon States’ rights and disturb India’s federal structure.
Sources said Mr. Shinde, who is currently in Russia along with Home Secretary R.K. Singh till Friday, is likely to impress upon the non-Congress Chief Ministers the importance of the conference in order to convince them to attend it.
He may also talk to all Congress Chief Ministers to ensure their presence.