Central and state governments fighting Maoists on Monday received the support of all political parties to carry out “sustained operations” against Maoists and deploy “all legitimate means” to quell the insurgency.
In a resolution passed at the end of the all-party meeting to discuss the Maoist challenge convened by Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, the parties asked the government to adopt the two-pronged strategy of “sustained operations to clear the areas of Maoist influence and pursue the objectives of effective governance and rapid development”.
The Prime Minister had called the meeting shortly after the attack on Chhattisgarh Congress leaders a fortnight ago, ostensibly to come up with a uniform policy to deal with Maoists. Singh told them that the Maoist attack was a “frontal assault” on the democratic foundations of the country.
In essence, the resolution doesn’t mark a departure from the UPA government’s stated policy to handle naxalism. But the UPA had been hamstrung by elements within and outside the government who felt it was unfair to focus too heavily on the security offensive rather than development of the backward districts.
Singh sought to end the debate on the development versus security response to handling the insurgency once and for all. He said the development and governance deficit in naxal-affected districts – often described as the root cause of the insurgency – needed to be addressed.
“Even as we take all measures... needed to permanently root out this menace, we must immediately ensure that naxalite violence is held in check and attacks, like the one in Chhattisgarh do not recur,” Singh said.
If there were any doubts, home minister Sushilkumar Shinde followed up the resolution with a promise that the Centre was contemplating “very strong action” against the naxals.
Never before has such a strong resolution been adopted by political parties on this issue, Shinde said.
Security experts indicated the political unanimity over the operations was a positive development but pointed it was unrealistic to expect the security forces to make a difference immediately. According to a home ministry estimate, it needs to deploy 27,000 more personnel in these districts to fill the existing security vacuum.