Union Home Minister P Chidambaram completed 150 days in office this week. He spoke to Vinod Sharma and Varghese K. George on a range of political and security issues on Friday. Excerpts:
Are you satisfied with security preparedness for the remaining phases of the elections?
The more difficult phases are over. Our preparedness in Gujarat, Rajasthan, Punjab and Jammu and Kashmir, the states that have a border with Pakistan, is very high. Sporadic incidents may happen in J&K but I am confident that in Gujarat, Punjab and Rajasthan there will be no major incidents.
Aside from the polls, do you expect a huge influx of refugees from Sri Lanka to India?
It is not likely that internally displaced people would come to India. Some may come and that flow would be dealt with. Our worries are that the hostilities must stop. The LTTE should not keep civilians as shields. Sri Lanka should not push through the civilian population to target the LTTE. These concerns are being conveyed.
You said they are not listening. Also, is it the endgame for the LTTE?
Because India raised the concerns, the US, UK, EU and other counties have called for cessation of hostilities. But the LTTE is not willing to lay down arms and Sri Lanka is not willing to cease hostilities. The fault is more with Colombo because they believe — wrongly, I think — in a military solution. There could be a military victory but there can be no military solution. In military terms, this is the endgame for the LTTE.
Do you think LTTE chief Prabhakaran will be captured?
What will happen, I cannot say. We do not want loss of life. We cannot think beyond that at this moment.
You have done 150 days as home minister. Are you happy?
We have a far better intelligence mechanism now. Despite the shortage of time, we have been able to put in the hands of states better weapons and infrastructure to fight terror. We have goaded them to set up anti-terrorism crack units, fill vacancies in the constabulary and other measures. All this happened in four months.
Are you enjoying the job? Do you want to come back in the next cabinet as home minister?
Not necessarily. Nobody can enjoy himself when the job involves dealing with killings and violence. It’s a job and I am doing it as best as I can. As a Congressman I hope the Congress comes back. Beyond that I am only bothered about where I will have dinner on the Saturday after the election results.