Home Minister P Chidambaram on Tuesday announced a "comprehensive action plan" by the Congress party to tackle terrorism and said only the Congress could effectively deal with the scourge.
"It is only the Indian National Congress that can deal with the scourge of terrorism squarely and decisively but without weakening the delicate strands that have, together, bound our society for centuries," Chidambaram said, quoting from the booklet on 'The Congress party's pledge - Protecting India From Terror'.
Chidambaram said only a responsible government could address the challenge of terrorism on a war-footing.
"The Congress party is alive to this challenge. The Congress party is committed to provide strong and decisive leadership to meet the challenge of terrorism. This is our pledge to the people of India," he said.
The booklet outlines the steps the Congress would take to implement anti-terror measures if voted to power.
He said the party-led government would also set up a permanent crisis management group or war room. The "war room" will have two main functions. "Provide war room-style operational oversight and control during terror threats or events, and function as a 24-hour watch-post/monitoring centre."
The war room would be "headed by a cabinet secretary and it will have representatives from the armed forces, at least from its intelligence wing", the home minister said.
The party would also establish a judicial task force to fast track trials "to ensure that national security and terror-related cases are tried and completed within 90 days".
The booklet enumerates five tenets the party has formulated as part of its strategy to counter terror. It includes capable and equipped human assets, actionable intelligence and cutting-edge analytics, empowered and coordinated security agencies decisive response to threats and attacks and strong and speedy investigation and prosecution.
Chidambaram accused the former National Democratic Alliance (NDA) government of "mysteriously" slashing the recruitment target for the IPS cadre.
"In 1998, when L K Advani was home minister, the recruitment target for the IPS cadre was mysteriously slashed from 85 to 36. The same number of 36 was repeated in the years 1999, 2000 and 2001 and as a result, grave and irreparable damage was done," he said.
"The Congress party will ensure that this deficiency is addressed decisively once and for all, after a panel formed to look into the issue submits its report by May 31, 2009," he said.
Chidambaram said the country's ability to respond to terror is much better than five years ago and added that "terrorism is a global phenomena". The situation, he said, had "deteriorated in Pakistan, Bangladesh, Myanmar".
He regretted the serial blasts in Assam on Monday and admitted that they took place despite security personnel being on alert. However, this was not a subject to be politicised and should be seen in the global perspective, the minister said. "It should not be politicised," he said.
Chidambaram said the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) would raise this issue. "But if they politicise terror, the people of the country know that our security forces are bravely confronting terror."
He said the Multi-Purpose National Identity Card (MNIC- Smart Card) idea was the brainchild of Rajiv Gandhi and the BJP was trying to hijack it.
He said the party-led government would ensure that the country has a world-class national security data base and a crime and criminal tacking network and systems.