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Need for nuanced approach among parties over tackling Naxals

The Dantewada massacre has brought to the fore the urgent need for a nuanced approach among major political parties over tackling the Maoist problem even though mainstream parties have favoured a tough line. See special

india Updated: Apr 11, 2010 17:04 IST

The Dantewada massacre has brought to the fore the urgent need for a nuanced approach among major political parties over tackling the Maoist problem even though mainstream parties have favoured a tough line.

The two main national parties have officially advocated a hardline stand against the Naxals but voices have arisen from within for addressing the basic issue of economic and social deprivation.

Sections in these parties are also raising questions over the clamour for smaller states wondering how they could withstand the onslaught of Maoists who have networks across the states.

After the Dantewada incident, in which 75 CRPF personnel were ambushed and killed by Maoists on Tuesday, BJP spokesperson Rajiv Pratap Rudy had said, "The government should take all steps to end Naxalism. It should use all the force to fight this battle to the finish. BJP believes this fight should be to the finish and will support all steps taken by the government.. this is a war against India. It is not a small incident."

Madhya Pradesh Chief Minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan, however, appeared to advocate a somewhat different approach.

He has said, "Naxalism cannot be solved only by bullet...As long as exploitation continues and common man does not get justice and programmes to eradicate poverty are not executed properly in Naxal-affected areas, we would only be contributing towards strengthening their base."

Chhattisgarh Chief Minister Raman Singh, whose state witnessed the worst Maoist carnage on security forces last week, has also said that the option of talks with Naxals should remain open, but wondered how long the Centre and the state governments could wait for the parleys to begin.

"The option of talks should remain open, but the question is who will talk on behalf of Naxals. We have waited for 32 years and we cannot wait for another 30 years," he said.

Congress also talked tough saying that the government should take all efforts to "wipe out" the naxal menace.

"The Central government should take all steps to prevent any such attacks in future and to wipe out the Maoist menace from our country...it should be fought with all strengths at our command and in every possible manner," party spokesperson Jayanti Natarajan had said after the incident.

But Minority Affairs Minister Salman Khurshid favoured widening the production base to check the problem.

"If the land base keeps on dwindling and the number of cities rise, then while we are currently bearing with the impact of Naxal movement in 106 districts, tomorrow we may have to face it in 400 districts. Now all are saying that they would give a strong reply to the Naxals. But how will we give the reply? It cannot be done by just making statements for two days," Khurshid said.

With the Congress and the BJP advocating a formal line of tough stand against Maoists, the main opposition is being accused by the Samajwadi Party of being the 'B' team of the Congress.

Some Congress leaders, requesting anonymity, also disapproved of "aggressive" statements and postures against Naxals saying they could be counter-productive.

"Naxals have to be differentiated from terrorists. Mere hardline approach apparently works against the terror outfits but not the home-grown Naxals," a Congress leader said.

The 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 apparatus by creating specialised forces to counter left wing extremism.

Another senior leader said that with the massacre, the Naxals have made a political statement thereby implying that the challenge needed to be met cautiously and carefully.

On smaller states, a section in both the Congress and BJP feels that since a 'red corridor' extends across a number of states, creation of smaller states would be playing into the hands of Maoists.

Chhattisgarh, which had been part of undivided Madhya Pradesh till a decade ago, is itself divided on the issue of Salwa Judum, a form of civilian resistance to the Naxalites.

In Bihar, parties like JD (U) and RJD, which claim to be the forces of social justice, have generally remained sympathetic to the cause espoused by the Naxalites, who are seen there as anti upper-castes.

Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar has said, "If progress does not happen along with justice to all, it will lead to only few islands of development and I don't think people are secured in such a situation. There is a need to question why we are insecure in our country. Unless everybody progresses, we will remain in danger."

Political leaders from several parties also pointed out that the states which are affected by Naxalism are the ones which are backward and have wide disparities between the rich and the poor.Naxals: Need for nuanced approach among parties comes to fore

New Delhi, Apr 11 (PTI)

The Dantewada massacre has brought to the fore the urgent need for a nuanced approach among major political parties over tackling the Maoist problem even though mainstream parties have favoured a tough line.

The two main national parties have officially advocated a hardline stand against the Naxals but voices have arisen from within for addressing the basic issue of economic and social deprivation.

Sections in these parties are also raising questions over the clamour for smaller states wondering how they could withstand the onslaught of Maoists who have networks across the states.

After the Dantewada incident, in which 75 CRPF personnel were ambushed and killed by Maoists on Tuesday, BJP spokesperson Rajiv Pratap Rudy had said, "The government should take all steps to end Naxalism. It should use all the force to fight this battle to the finish. BJP believes this fight should be to the finish and will support all steps taken by the government.. this is a war against India. It is not a small incident."

Madhya Pradesh Chief Minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan, however, appeared to advocate a somewhat different approach.

He has said, "Naxalism cannot be solved only by bullet...As long as exploitation continues and common man does not get justice and programmes to eradicate poverty are not executed properly in Naxal-affected areas, we would only be contributing towards strengthening their base."

Chhattisgarh Chief Minister Raman Singh, whose state witnessed the worst Maoist carnage on security forces last week, has also said that the option of talks with Naxals should remain open, but wondered how long the Centre and the state governments could wait for the parleys to begin.

"The option of talks should remain open, but the question is who will talk on behalf of Naxals. We have waited for 32 years and we cannot wait for another 30 years," he said.

Congress also talked tough saying that the government should take all efforts to "wipe out" the naxal menace.

"The Central government should take all steps to prevent any such attacks in future and to wipe out the Maoist menace from our country...it should be fought with all strengths at our command and in every possible manner," party spokesperson Jayanti Natarajan had said after the incident.

But Minority Affairs Minister Salman Khurshid favoured widening the production base to check the problem.

"If the land base keeps on dwindling and the number of cities rise, then while we are currently bearing with the impact of Naxal movement in 106 districts, tomorrow we may have to face it in 400 districts. Now all are saying that they would give a strong reply to the Naxals. But how will we give the reply? It cannot be done by just making statements for two days," Khurshid said.

With the Congress and the BJP advocating a formal line of tough stand against Maoists, the main opposition is being accused by the Samajwadi Party of being the 'B' team of the Congress.

Some Congress leaders, requesting anonymity, also disapproved of "aggressive" statements and postures against Naxals saying they could be counter-productive.

"Naxals have to be differentiated from terrorists. Mere hardline approach apparently works against the terror outfits but not the home-grown Naxals," a Congress leader said.

The 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 apparatus by creating specialised forces to counter left wing extremism.

Another senior leader said that with the massacre, the Naxals have made a political statement thereby implying that the challenge needed to be met cautiously and carefully.

On smaller states, a section in both the Congress and BJP feels that since a 'red corridor' extends across a number of states, creation of smaller states would be playing into the hands of Maoists.

Chhattisgarh, which had been part of undivided Madhya Pradesh till a decade ago, is itself divided on the issue of Salwa Judum, a form of civilian resistance to the Naxalites.

In Bihar, parties like JD (U) and RJD, which claim to be the forces of social justice, have generally remained sympathetic to the cause espoused by the Naxalites, who are seen there as anti upper-castes.

Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar has said, "If progress does not happen along with justice to all, it will lead to only few islands of development and I don't think people are secured in such a situation. There is a need to question why we are insecure in our country. Unless everybody progresses, we will remain in danger."

Political leaders from several parties also pointed out that the states which are affected by Naxalism are the ones which are backward and have wide disparities between the rich and the poor.