The Opposition Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) on Thursday called for "a united fight to defeat Maoists" but accused the Congress of forging an alliance with the Leftist guerrillas for electoral gains - an allegation that triggered ugly scenes and disruptions in the Lok Sabha.
BJP and Congress MPs were caught in an ugly row over the April 6 Dantewada massacre by Maoist rebels, prompting repeated adjournments of the house.
Members of the Lok Sabha, which resumed the budget session after a month-long break Thursday, reassembled at 2 p.m. following Speaker Meira Kumar's assurance that an objectionable part in BJP leader Yashwant Sinha's speech accusing the Congress of allying with Maoists would be removed.
Sinha, a former finance minister, had initiated the debate on how to tackle Maoist terrorism and assured the government of the BJP's full support in the war against Left extremism.
But he went on to lambast the government for the way it had tackled the problem, which Prime Minister Manmohan Singh has described as the greatest threat to India's internal security.
Sinha said the Congress used Maoists for political gains in some states and sent a "wrong signal" that the government was "ready to compromise on terrorism".
"You forged an alliance with Naxalites in Andhra Pradesh for electoral benefits," he thundered.
Parliamentary Affairs Minister Pawan Kumar Bansal reacted sharply and said the BJP leader had forgotten the relationship his party has with Maoists in Chhattisgarh.
"He doesn't know what relationship his party has with Maoists. He has forgotten that," Bansal said, this time triggering protests from BJP MPs.
"On one hand he is expressing BJP's support and on the other he is levelling allegations," Bansal said.
Sinha had also earlier "condemned with contempt" the remarks by Congress leader Digvijay Singh accusing the BJP of having a nexus with the guerrillas in Chhattisgarh.
As the noise grew louder amid the allegations and counter-allegations, Meira Kumar asked Sinha not to "level allegations which you are not able to substantiate".
She said the house was discussing "something very serious". "This is a tragedy which has saddened all of us. This is not the debate where allegations should be levelled? All parties should put their heads together and see how we can eliminate such incidents," Meira Kumar said about the brutal killing of 76 security men in Chhattisgarh.
After two adjournments, the debate over the Dantewada mayhem was resumed at 2 p.m. This time, Sinha appeared more circumspect and asked the government to be clear on its strategy against the rebels.
"If we don't clarify our strategy, we would be defeated? Sometimes they exchange phone numbers and sometimes there is tough posturing," he said sarcastically, referring to Home Minister P. Chidambaram and Maoist leader Kishenji exchanging phone numbers in the media.
"Sinha said the operation against Maoists was undertaken without ground preparations. State governments were not taken into confidence. If we were prepared better, Dantewada would have never occurred," he said, likening the massacre with the 1962 Ind-China war.
"They sent soldiers without shoes and socks to fight Chinese. And the Dantewade incident is like that only. Indian forces were sent to Dantewade without preparations," he said.