First, Maoist insurgency looked like a distant thunder. And when it swelled into an internal security threat, the strategy to tackle it proved to be a puzzle.
But finance minister Pranab Mukherjee made it clear on Tuesday that the Congress party had finally arrived at a well-charted plan of action to tackle Left extremism.
Expressing concern that it “is one of the biggest threats to peace and security”, Mukherjee admitted that it was also a result of governance failure and had to be handled with a kid glove.
But he distinguished between those who believed in violence and those who were “misguided”, saying it was easy to misguide people who have been “denied their legitimate demands or deprived of their rights”.
His speech came after a resolution adopted at the All India Congress Committee plenary about a week ago, laying stress on restoring civilian administration with a surge in development.
Speaking at the 71st raising day celebrations of the CRPF here on Tuesday, Mukherjee asked CRPF personnel to be patient with the people and their democratic rights “to bring back the disgruntled elements into the mainstream”.
The government has deployed almost 60,000 CRPF personnel to undertake anti-Maoist operations in various states. Mukherjee’s statement also reconfirmed that the war of words among the party leaders had ended.
In April, party leader Digvijay Singh slammed home minister P Chidambaram’s reported view that the Maoist rebellion was a purely “law and order” problem, virtually ignoring the issues that affected the tribals.
But after the plenary resolution and Congress chief Sonia Gandhi’s views published in party journal Congress Sandesh in May, advocating a balanced and integral approach, Mukherjee’s speech reconfirmed the new thinking.
Gandhi said, “We have to address the root cause of naxalism. The rise of naxalism is a reflection of the need for our development initiatives to reach the grassroots...”
Mukherjee’s statement also comes ahead of next year's assembly polls in West Bengal where Maoist influence in three western districts is an election issue.