With naxals carrying out the deadliest attack today, questions cropped up in Congress over the government's hard line policy against the "home grown" Left wing extremists, with some leaders saying they are "different from terrorists".
Some party leaders, requesting anonymity, felt that "aggressive" statements and postures against naxals could be counter-productive and advocated talks with them.
"It could be counter-productive and may boomerang," a Congress leader said while referring to the tough approach of the government towards naxals.
"Naxals have to be differentiated from terrorists. Hardline approach apparently works against the terror outfits but not the home grown naxals," he said.
Advocating dialogue with the Left wing extremists, he said, "The difference between terrorists and naxals is that we can talk to the naxals."
The Congress leader said "bravado" may not work and options of engaging the naxals in dialogue could be explored.
In this regard, he cited the example of Andhra Pradesh where the Congress government under Y S R Reddy engaged naxals in talks and also strengthened the security appartus by creating specialised forces to counter Left wing extremism.
Another senior leader, while commenting on this morning's incident in Dantewada, said "They (naxals) have made a political statement." He did not elaborate.
Meanwhile, while reacting to the incident, Congress spokesman Abhishek Singhvi said "cornered" naxals were "feeling the heat" because of the joint operation of security forces and were "therefore reacting in this manner".
To a question, he said, "Perhaps, this is a short-term price we are paying for starting a relentless battle against them."
Congress General Secretary Janardan Dwivedi said whatever had happened in Dantewada was "most inhuman, condemnable and an attack on the civil society."
He said all the state governments must take the problem with the seriousness it deserves and cooperate with the central government in tackling this "serious challenge" to the country's democratic system.