Defending his extended stay in the US to consult an ophthalmologist, Union home minister Sushilkumar Shinde on Thursday brushed aside criticism of his absence in the country at a time Maoists almost wiped out the Chhattisgarh Congress leadership.
The minister said the world renowned doctor had given him an appointment for May 28 as he (the doctor) was away in Malaysia. Shinde insisted that issuing statements from the US condemning the attack wouldn’t have helped. Instead, he said he had been in touch with home ministry officials in the days after the Chhattisgarh attack.
Asked about the naxal plan to target urban centres, Shinde said there were reports on these lines. “We have this information”.
In his first public appearance after landing in Delhi, Shinde also rejected demands for the President’s rule in Chhattisgarh made by the state Congress leaders but appeared unsure if he should call the Maoists terrorists. Shinde said he would need to get more details to comment on the description. He will be travelling to the state on Friday.
Rural development minister Jairam Ramesh had called the naxals “terrorists”. On Thursday, Congress spokesperson Bhakta Charan Das said, “This view has got some substance.”