NEW DELHI: Union Home Minister P. Chidambaram on Tuesday appealed to all political parties, particularly the main Opposition Bharatiya Janata Party, to maintain a bipartisan approach in tackling Naxal violence.
Talking to reporters here, he said political parties should adopt a bipartisan approach in tackling the problem. He reiterated that the primary responsibility “lies with the State government” in dealing with the Naxal menace.
“I would urge the BJP and other political parties to continue to maintain as far as possible a bipartisan spirit and approach to dealing with this challenge to India's security,'' Mr. Chidambaram told reporters at his North Block office. The Minister's comments came in response to senior BJP leader Arun Jaitley's statement that he looked like an “injured martyr” and was given a “limited mandate” in taking tougher action against Naxals.
“I believe he [Mr. Jaitely] said that I look like an injured martyr. I think it was an unfortunate choice of words. If he had reflected for a moment, he would not have used those words. The injured and the martyrs are both in Chhattisgarh among the jawans and the SPOs who were injured and who died,” he said.
Mr. Chidambaram said that as far as the mandate of the Central government was concerned, he had already explained it. The mandate was to help the State governments by providing paramilitary forces, intelligence and tactical assistance.
“It is the State governments which have the primary responsibility to tackle the menace of Naxalism. It is in that sense that I said that our mandate is a limited mandate. But if you play upon words like limited mandate, I could turn around and say that it is the State governments and the Chief Ministers who have an unlimited mandate,” he said.
“The debate in Parliament and outside so far has been bipartisan. There is a broad agreement on how we should deal with Naxals. In a robust democracy, there will be some difference in the manner in which each one articulates his or her view. But I would urge the BJP and other political parties to continue to maintain as far as possible a bipartisan spirit and approach to dealing with this challenge,” Mr. Chidambaram elaborated.
In an interview to CNN-IBN news channel, Mr. Chidambaram made a fresh offer to hold talks with Naxals if they “suspend” violence even for just 72 hours. The offer came a day after Maoists blew up a civilian bus in Chhattisgarh.
“Maoists should say ‘We will abjure violence. We will suspend violence and actually suspend violence for 72 hours.' We will get the Chief Ministers on board. We will respond. We will fix a date, time and place for talks and let the Maoists come for the talks on anything they wish to talk,” he told the news channel.
He said the CPI (Maoist) never responded “seriously” to the offer of talks. “They indulge in gimmick. I am afraid the media plays up that gimmick,” he said.
On Hindu extremists, the Minister said there was evidence pointing to various groups which were supported by an extreme right Hindu fundamentalist group. “We don't call it Hindu terror. Terror is terror.”
Mr. Chidambaram's offer was dismissed by Naxal leader Ramanna who said in Bastar district in Chhattisgarh, “we cannot give up our weapons.”
He said the Naxals had responded to the Home Minister's earlier offer on talks. “But the government did not believe us. There is a heavy presence of security forces and their atrocities are continuing every day,” he said.