Falling short of directly criticising Home Minister P Chidambaram for his remark that he had a "limited mandate" to fight Maoists, Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee has said that any differences in the union cabinet "are not to be shared in public."
"I don't want to make any comment on what my distinguished colleague (Chidambaram) said. He is the best person to explain in what context he said," Mukherjee said in an interview with a TV news channel.
"I am saying that in what context what he said, he is in a better position to explain about it... these things we do not share in public, these things are not to be shared in public...I am not the person to explain and air my views which are different from the decision taken in the cabinet."
In the interview to Karan Thapar's weekly "Devil's Advocate" programme on CNN-IBN, the Finance Minister refused to comment on differences in the cabinet over the anti-Maoist strategy as was indicated by Chidambaram last week in a TV interview when he spoke of "limited mandate" and said he would go back to the government panel for an expanded mandate.
"No these are the issues that we will have to discuss in the cabinet, there cannot be a public debate, because the fact of the matter is, the proposal of the Home Ministry has been adopted by the cabinet, appropriate measures have already been taken, but in what context the Home Minister made these observations - he is the best person to explain it," Mukherjee said.
Asked if the government would expand the Home Ministry's mandate in tackling Maoist insurgents, Mukherjee said: "I do not know, unless we hear (from the ministry). What are the elements, what are the ingredients (of the expanded mandate). When it will be discussed then we will take the decision."
He said each cabinet member having his or her own point of view was normal.
"That is nothing unusual. Like any other corporate body, for the decision making process various inputs come from various participants, but once the decision is taken, everybody follows that decision," he added.