The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) on Tuesday asked Prime Minister Manmohan Singh to spell out if his government favoured a soft or hard line against Maoist guerrillas.
"The time has come for the prime minister to end this debate (between the hard and soft lines)," BJP leader Arun Jaitley told a news conference here. "He should stand up and clarify his stand."
Jaitley said the prime minister needed to make it clear why Home Minister P Chidambaram, the home ministry and the country's security agencies were finding themselves crippled vis-a-vis the Maoists.
"It is not a question of just one ministry or one security agency," he said. "We need to know if the government will wage only half a battle (against the Maoists) or an all out offensive."
Jaitley's comments came a day after Maoist guerrillas massacred 31 civilians and special police officers by blowing up a bus in Dantewada district of Chhattisgarh.
The BJP leader said there appeared to be inconsistencies within the Congress party and the United Progressive Alliance (UPA) it heads on how to combat Maoism.
He said while some mistakenly thought that development work would end Maoism and that Maoists were only "misguided ideologues", the guerrillas "want to finish off the parliamentary system and through violence".
He said a recent communication from Congress president Sonia Gandhi to party activists appeared to indicate that she stood for a soft line against the Maoists.
"As UPA II is ending its first year, it looks they are in power but not in control," he said.