The BJP, for once, is not harshly criticising Home Minister P. Chidambaram or the central government.
The Maoist attack in Dantewada has made the opposition party assess Chidambaram’s strategy in a different light.
The view in the BJP is that there may be fault lines in the Centre’s current strategy to flush out the Maoists, but Chidambaram could not be blamed.
The decision on calling the army should be left to the Centre, according to the party that had earlier been seen as leaning towards those trying to give legitimacy to the Maoists.
By deciding to stand with the government in “whatever” action it takes, the BJP leaders wish to show that their party cannot be accused of politicking on sensitive issues — a charge levelled against it by the UPA in issues like terrorism.
BJP spokesperson Ravi Shankar Prasad on Tuesday refused to seek the resignation of Chidambaram, though he disagreed with the Centre’s eagerness for dialogue. “He often says that if the Naxals abjure violence we can talk. The talk of a dialogue with them is patently absurd.”
Asked why the BJP was not targeting the Centre, he said, “We cannot politicize this issue. The problem is much bigger. We need to tell the people what’s the real agenda of the Maoists, which is to overthrow the present system of governance.”
Chidambaram has understood the magnitude of the problem, BJP leaders said, and his “sincerity” could not be doubted.
“He understands the problem and is trying to do something compared to his predecessor (Shivraj Patil) who refused to act,” Leader of Opposition in the Rajya Sabha Arun Jaitley said.
Chidambaram’s challenge is to upgrade the intelligence network and get the government to act in unison, he added.
The change in the BJP’s attitude seems to be a reflection of regular interaction between Chidambaram and BJP leaders. Two months ago, Chidambaram sent ministry officials to brief Jaitley on the “size” of the issue. When Jharkhand Chief Minister Shibu Soren was reluctant to launch the anti-Maoist drive, Chidambaram got in touch with Arun Jaitley, who spoke to Soren to rope in the state.