With Maoists striking at will, Home Minister P Chidambaram today said the Naxal threat was "under-estimated" for many years and that the Centre was preparing to take on the "grave challenge" posed by the ultras.
Replying to questions in Rajya Sabha, Chidambaram said a military advisor has been appointed to prepare an action plan.
He also said a joint action plan was being drawn up with Naxal-affected states like Orissa and Chattishgarh.
"Regrettably for many years we did not properly assess the threat posed by Left-wing extremism. We under-estimated the challenge and in the meanwhile they (Naxalites) extended their influence," he said.
"Today they (Naxalites) pose a grave challenge ... We are preparing to taken on the challenge. Details cannot be disclosed now," he said.
Chidambaram's remarks came even as BJP leader Venkaiah Naidu told reporters that the UPA government does not understand the depth and seriousness of the problem.
"Naxals have spread in 135 districts of the country. It's no more a state-specific problem and there should be a national level coordinated approach to tackle it," he said.
Chidambaram said plans are being drawn up in close consultation with state governments ... we have also appointed a military advisor (for inputs on dealing with Left-wing extremism)."
According to Union Minister of state for Home Affairs Ajay Maken, a total of 1,726 civilians were killed in naxal violence during the last three years.
The Home Minister said he was in close touch with chief ministers of the Naxal-affected states and would hold a meeting with them in August to discuss ways to counter Left-wing extremism.