Congress general secretary Digvijay Singh says that Maoist activities are criminal and totally unacceptable but the Left guerrillas should not be called "terrorists".
"No one can defend their criminal activities... but they are not terrorists.. they are those people who have committed acts of crime which have to be dealt with firmly and decisively. But at the same time, you cannot equate them with cross-border terrorists," Singh said on CNN-IBN's Devil's Advocate programme.
The Congress leader, who recently courted controversy by writing a newspaper article in which he disagreed with Home Minister P Chidambaram's anti-Maoist policy and called him intellectually arrogant, said he was ready to apologise and withdraw his remarks if they have caused hurt.
"If he (Chidambaram) is hurt, naturally, he is a friend of mine, we have worked together and I would not like to hurt his feelings...I had made an honest comment, which I thought I should...But if it has hurt him deeply, then I am sorry...," Digvijay Singh said.
Asked about his views on calling Maoists "misguided idealogues" and not "terrorists", the Congress leader said: "I have no quarrel as far as their issues are concerned... they are genuine, they are relevant... Ultimately, it is the people who matter... But the point is that their strategy and their methodology is condemnable and not acceptable at all. They are certainly not terrorists."
He also disagreed with them being called enemies of India.
Digvijay Singh noted that Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and Chidambaram had accepted that Maoists can't be tackled by military power.
"I am very happy that the prime minister and Chidambaram-ji have accepted that you can’t send the army, you can’t send the air force and we cannot defeat them militarily."
"The hon'ble prime minister himself told me that it has to be a multi-pronged strategy that has to be implemented together and so has Chidambaram...," he said.
Asked if he can be credited with changing Chidambaram’s views, Digvijay Singh said he does not claim any credit.
"I don't claim that credit. I think that there is a perceptible change in thinking now, because in the parliament debate also most of the members of parliament took this line."