While the Union Home Minister, P. Chidambaram reportedly accepted “full responsibility” for the Dantewada massacre, his cabinet colleague, Subodh Kant Sahay has shifted the blame on the Naxal-affected States saying that they were not serious in tackling the Maoist menace. The Union Food Processing Minister said central forces can act only with logistical and backup support provided by the States.

Critical of the Naxal-affected States’ approach towards the problem, the Union Food Processing Minister said here on Friday that unless a sound development package is introduced along with a unified approach a permanent solution would not be found. “ The problem with these States --- Bihar, Jharkhand, Chattisgarh and Orissa --- is that they viewed the Maoist menace as a law and order problem”, Mr. Sahay told reporters at the Pradesh Congress Committee headquarters.

According to the Minister, media hype of the Maoist activities was a big deterrent in counter-operations. He said: “Operations cannot be discussed in public”.

Mr. Sahay said integrated development of the Naxalite affected regions would serve as a perfect antidote for the problem. He said the Dantewada region in Chattisgarh was the poorest segment of the State where poor kids were employed as weapon-carriers by the Maoists.

“ It has been found that the State police have a very casual approach towards the problem and since there was absence of coordination among the Maoist-affected States no feedback is given to the Centre”, the Minister said. Mr. Sahay added that the issue has to figure on the agenda of the political leadership of these States.

The Union Minister favoured air surveillance of Dantewada region as “ground movement was extremely difficult on account of the terrain and the area being heavily forested”. Mr. Sahay, however, said no decision has been taken on a launching a air strike.

An action plan is being prepared by a committee headed by a former director general of Border Security Force (BSF), the exercise is expected to be completed in a fortnight or so, Mr. Sahay said.

Mr. Sahay, who was in Lucknow to inaugurate a national conference on agro industry at the Indian Institute of Management (IIM), slammed the Mayawati Government for not allowing investment in agro and food processing sector. He blamed the Government for the absence of investor-friendly policies, and dubbed the Uttar Pradesh Kisan Mandi Parishad as a “ loot ka bazaar” ( market place of loot ).

Stating that the State Government has sent no investment proposal to the Centre, Mr. Sahay said UP should introduce a food processing policy. He added that the Union Food Processing Ministry gave Rs. 50 crore for setting up a food park and Rs. 10 crore for establishing a cold chain.