An hour into his new job, Home Minister P Chidambaram said on Monday evening that he was aware “of the sense of anguish and shock among the people of India”. “I’ve heard the anguished voice of India,” he said.
“Over the last few days, the Congress Working Committee and, ultimately at the all-party meeting yesterday, leaders declared there is and will be a unity of purpose in dealing with the situation. I welcome the sense of purpose,” he said. “I want to assure the people that we’ll respond with determination and resolve to the grave threats posed to the Indian nation. This is a threat to the very idea of India, the very soul of India that we know and love — secular, plural, tolerant and open society. I have no doubt the idea of India will triumph,” he told mediapersons. He added that he needed the help and support of the people, states and governments.
This is not Chidambaram's first stint at the home ministry. He has been here earlier, as minister of state in charge of internal security. Asked what was different, he said: “I’m older, you tell me if I’m wiser.” Facing questions on the Mumbai attacks and related issues, Chidambaram said he would familiarise himself in the next few days with the issues pending in the ministry and brief the media by the weekend.
While Home Secretary Madhukar Gupta is believed to have met and briefed Chidambaram on Sunday, National Security Adviser M.K. Narayanan briefed the minister at his finance ministry office on Monday morning. The minister held a quick review meeting with the home secretary and special secretary, internal security as soon as he took over. Those who called on him included director general of National Security Guards J.K Dutt.
PM takes charge of finance
With Chidambaram in the home minister’s seat, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, who now holds charge of the finance ministry, convened a meeting of secretaries of the ministry on Monday and stressed on close monitoring and timely steps for maintaining growth momentum. A PMO statement said Singh called the finance secretary and other secretaries of the ministry after assuming charge. He was given a briefing on issues of importance.