A day after the audacious attack in Dantewada that killed 31 people Home Minister P Chidambaram renewed his offer for talks. He repeated his earlier statement, asking the Maoists to stop violence and engage in dialogue with the Centre. But the Maoist leadership again rejected his offer.
“We cannot give up our weapons,” said Ramanna, who heads the Maoists South Bastar unit. “There is a heavy presence of security forces in this region and their atrocities are continuing every day.”
At the same time, home minister said the primary responsibility of fighting the problem is of the state governments.
Law and and order being a state subject, the Centre’s mandate is limited to providing paramilitary assistance, intelligence and tactical assistance, Chidambaram said on Tuesday. This reflects a nuanced change in the Centre’s policy to tackle the growing Maoist menace.
The home minister, clarifying his statement of having a ‘limited mandate’ to fight the Maoists, said: “It is the state governments which have the primary responsibility to tackle the menace of Naxalism. It is in that sense that I said that our mandate is limited.”
Sources also said the Congress is unhappy with the political fallout of the Centre taking the flak for increasing numbers of Maoist attacks. They pointed out the Congress leadership and the home minister feel state governments are often not proactive enough in their anti-Maoist drive, instead deflecting blame for failure to tackle them on the central government.
The BJP attacked the government on Tuesday after the Dantewada incident. Leader of the Opposition in Rajya Sabha Arun Jaitley said “a limited mandate means our security apparatus fights Maoists with one hand tied”. The unease in the Congress with the Centre becoming the focus of anti-Naxal strategy was visible when it reminded the BJP that tackling Maoism was more the BJP’s duty than the Congress’s. “The BJP is engaging in double-speak,” said Congress spokesman Shakeel Ahmed.