The Manmohan Singh government has suddenly revived a watered-down version of the National Counter Terrorism Centre (NCTC) but NDA-ruled states are expected to lead the opposition to the project at Wednesday’s chief minister’s conference on internal security.
The NDA-ruled states – along with others such as Odisha – are expected to vehemently argue that the proposed NCTC was against the federal spirit of the Constitution, a stand that could force Home Minister Sushilkumar Shinde to shove the anti-terror coordination agency back into the cold storage.Nearly a dozen chief ministers had forced the UPA to shelve the NCTC project at the CMs’ conference in May 2012. After sitting on the plan for nearly 13 months, the Home Ministry recently tried to breathe life into NCTC to bolster the government’s claim of taking steps to fight terrorism.
NDA-ruled states such as Gujarat chief minister Narendra Modi and Punjab deputy chief minister Sukhbir Badal are expected to stick to their opposition to the NCTC at Wednesday’s meeting. Odisha chief minister Naveen Patnaik – who has taken a dim view of the proposed body – will also articulate his concerns.
Besides questioning the NCTC’s powers to carry out counter-terrorism operations “through or in conjunction with the state police forces”, the non-UPA states do not want any further experimentation with national security by creating new institutions. Some others are also against whittling down of the IB’s role as lead counter-terror agency.
West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Bannerjee and Tamil Nadu Chief Minister J Jayalalithaa have already made it clear they will stay away from the conference.
In a letter to the prime Minister, Jayalalithaa – who was forced to cut short her speech at the National Development Council meeting last December – ran down the conference as an "annual ritualistic exercise” that gives very little opportunity to chief ministers to express their views".
A senior security officer said some of the opposition concerns were valid, particularly since the “lame-duck version” of the proposed NCTC would certainly not help fight terror but just might be counter-productive.