K. Balchand

NEW DELHI: Union Home Minister P.Chidambaram on Wednesday said it was not possible to solve the Naxalite problem without regaining the confidence of people and this job had to be done by various sections.

Speaking at a national conference of the Confederation of Indian Industry here, he admitted that the delivery of inclusive growth in rural areas did not match the faster growth the country had registered. “The answer is it has been mixed.”

Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee, who spoke earlier, too dealt with the problem of growth benefits not reaching the poor. He, however, confined himself to the financial aspect of the problem and the need for reforms in the delivery system.

Mr. Chidambaram, it would appear, picked up the threads, and analysed the problem vis-à-vis the Naxalite menace. He said that even officially only 66 per cent of the funds meant for rural areas had been spent in the Naxal-affected States, and even this figure was ridiculed by MPs. By the admission of the State governments themselves, at least one-third of the funds had not been spent for a variety of reasons.

The problem was formidable and there were no easy answers. “The people are not receiving the benefits.”

The Home Minister said though Naxalites described themselves as pro-people they were destroying, with a design, schools and anything symbolic of the government. “Who is happy? The Naxalites are happy. People cannot read [for lack of schools]. People cannot communicate [for lack of telephones]. Nothing can move in or out [for want of roads]. We have a formidable adversary, whereas we have a weak administration [State governments].”

Wondering whether development should precede police action, Mr. Chidambaram underscored the difficulties of delivery in areas where the government could not even enter.

The government would continue with its two-pronged strategy of carrying forward its development effort and a calibrated and controlled police action in order to assert civilian authority in the affected areas.

Mr. Chidambaram, however, said it was not possible for the government alone to tackle the Naxalite problem. Civil society would have to play a crucial role in creating awareness of not only the Naxal menace but also the benefits of the development process and the action that were being initiated. Until civil society put its shoulder to the wheel, there was no way of giving momentum to the effort to change the scenario. But he regretted that civil society was guided by two camps.

One camp held the view that the government was bad and ugly and the enemy, and must be fought at all levels even if it were an armed struggle. “They are highly educated people including university teachers and good writers.”

The other section was totally unconcerned and hardly raised its voice in favour of development. In this situation of conflict where people were in deep distress and the government model was unable to deliver, there was need to ponder over the distrust between the people and the government of India.