Under immense pressure over his anti-Maoist policy, especially after the latest attack by the rebels killing 35 people in Dantewada, Chhattisgarh Chief Minister Raman Singh said on Monday that a "rethink of the Maoist strategy is needed".
"Strategy rethink is now needed. I will discuss the issue very soon with the central government in New Delhi," a visibly upset Raman Singh told mediamen in capital Raipur. He said the massive landmine blast had claimed some 35 lives of special police officers (SPOs) and local people. It is the first ever attack on a passenger bus in Bastar region.
The chief minister said that about 55 people were on the bus, including a few people on the rooftop, when it was blown up by a massive blast on the Dantewada-Sukma state highway.
The blast ripped through the front portion of the bus and the vehicle was tossed up to 20 feet in air. The explosion left a 10 feet crater and the body parts of the killed were strewn all around.
"It's a move to demoralise the police and paramilitary personnel and terrorise civilians, even the women and child were not spared," Singh said, adding that some 20-25 SPOs were travelling in the bus.
"Police and paramilitary Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF) have rushed to the site for a rescue operation," Singh said. He is ruling the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) government since December 2003.
To a query about the rising public demand for allowing the army to take over the anti-rebel operation in Bastar, he said, "The demand for handing over Bastar to the army is an issue that Raman Singh can't decide on his own."
The opposition Congress Monday questioned the Maoist policy of the BJP government and said the state should be brought under president's rule urgently to restore faith among civilians.
"People are highly terrorised. Maoists have virtually taken control of the state mainly of the vast Bastar. The situation has gone out of the BJP government's hands and the state should be placed under President's Rule," said Congress leader Ravindra Chubey, who is also leader of the opposition.