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Centre, state on same plane

Chhattisgarh government is fully on board with the Union government on the forthcoming military offensive against Maoist rebels, said state Chief Minister Raman Singh, reports Varghese K George.

delhi Updated: Aug 19, 2009 00:57 IST
Varghese K George

Chhattisgarh government is fully on board with the Union government on the forthcoming military offensive against Maoist rebels, said state Chief Minister Raman Singh.

“For the first time there is complete consensus between the state and the Centre on dealing with the Maoists. We welcome the Centre’s decision to go all out against them,” Singh said a day after a conference of chief ministers of Naxal-affected states deliberated on the issue.

Chhattisgarh is the epicenter of India’s Maoist insurgency now spread over 160 districts in eight states.

Unqualified endorsement by Chhattisgarh’s BJP chief minister would strengthen the hands of the Union government — which has been treading cautiously on the issue.

The Union government is working on a military plan to smoke out the Maoists from the jungles, mostly of Chhattisgarh, Maharashtra, Jharkhand, Bihar, Andhra Pradesh and Orissa. Central forces will lead the offensive, expected to start by
October end — soon after the assembly elections in Maharashtra.

Details of the plan are not announced yet, but it would lead to some surrender of policing powers that the state governments statutorily have — a sensitive issue in centre-state relations.

Union home minister P Chidambaram explained at great length to chief ministers of the Naxal-affected states on Monday that their concerns would be completely addressed in the centre’s plans.

Chidambaram is planning to travel to affected states to chart out the details of the strategy.

“Centre forces will lead the offensive and that’s the only way to go about it,” Singh said ruling out the possibility of
any turf war between the governments.

Singh gave full marks to Chidamabaram’s handling of the Naxal issue.

“Within months of taking over as the home minister he understood the seriousness of the issue. He diagnosed correct, and prescribed correct,” Singh said referring to the centre’s two-pronged approach of militarily defeating the rebels first and suddenly follow it up with development.

“The PM also demonstrated a resolve to root out the Maoist menace,” Singh said.

Reacting to the Centre’s plans, Kishenji - number two in the CPI (Maoist) Politburo and chief of its Central Military Commission — told the Hindustan Times in a telephonic interview from his hideout: “We will decide on it after we’ve assessed the Prime Minister’s speech on August 15 and the resolutions taken at the August 17 meeting of chief ministers. We will let you know about the developments later.”

He said a weakening BJP is no longer the primary enemy of the Maoists.

“The Congress is undoubtedly our primary enemy. Currently, we’re going through a process of banning Congress in West Bengal, Bihar, Orissa, Jharkhand, Chhattisgarh and Maharashtra,” he said.

With Snigdhendu Bhattacharya