India cannot afford to lose the battle against Maoists, Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) leader Arun Jaitley said in the Rajya Sabha on Thursday and alleged that the United Progressive Alliance (UPA) government had not taken the threat seriously in its last tenure.
"This battle the country cannot lose," Jaitley said during a debate on the April 6 massacre of 76 security men in Chhattisgarh. "This battle (needs) to go on."
Terming the Maoist threat as alarming, the BJP leader said the entire opposition was backing the government in its campaign against the Maoists. "The country wants to speak in one language... but we do not need a divided government."
While social and economic development in the Maoist infected areas needs to be taken care of, he said, the military action by Left extremists needed to be tackled though "strong security measures".
Quoting government statistics, Jaitley said 220 districts in the country faced the Maoist problem; of these, 90 districts had "effective Maoist presence". He said: "The situation is alarming."
"The first five years of the UPA, in fact, was wasted without releasing the seriousness of the issue," he said, but added quickly that there "some sign of hope in the last one year".
On April 6, an early morning ambush by the Maoists killed 75 Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF) troopers and a Chhattisgarh policeman in the forests of Dantewada in Chhattisgarh.