Home minister P Chidambaram on Thursday asked Parliament to treat the April 6 murder of 76 security personnel in Chhattisgarh as "a wake-up call", saying the tragedy must lead to greater resolve, determination and fearlessness in dealing with Naxalism as a law and order problem.
"I did not lose my nerve, my will… I don't fear Naxals... I resigned because I thought it my moral responsibility," he said during a debate in Lok Sabha that saw the Opposition target the UPA over "divisions" within itself on the issue.
There had been a whisper campaign by some in the Congress-led coalition that more development, not security forces, was the way to handle the Maoists. Quite a few MPs echoed this view in the House.
At the end of the discussion, Chidambaram asked the government to address Naxalism as a law and order issue but with underlying socio-economic causes.
"But don't think the adversary will let us do that (undertake development)," he warned.
Earlier, the Opposition backed the government in its fight against the Maoists but issued a warning.
"We don't need a divided government… What we don't need is a government that tries to pull down its home minister," the BJP's Arun Jaitley said in Rajya Sabha.
In Lok Sabha, BJP leader Yashwant Sinha told Chidambaram: "Your party is not with you in this fight. However, we support you."
Urging MPs not to fall prey to some "romantic version of a Left-wing movement", Chidambaram said: "Naxals call this war. They call us enemies. They call this hallowed hall (Parliament) a pigsty."
In an oblique reference to questions about the fighting abilities of the security forces, he said the CRPF was the only force the country had to fight the Maoists. "We should remain calm, stay on the course we had chosen since October 2009."
He avoided comment on the preliminary report into the Dantewada attack, only saying it confirmed his instinctive reaction that something had gone horribly wrong.