Sushil Kumar Shinde on Wednesday assumed charge as the new home minister and promised to work closely with the states in dealing with internal security challenges and contentious issues like setting up of NCTC.
Expressing gratitude to Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and UPA chairperson Sonia Gandhi for bestowing the charge of the home ministry to a Dalit, Shinde said there was a need to plug the gaps in the relations between the states and the Centre.
"I have been hearing from political circles in Central Hall in Parliament that there is still scope to plug the gaps in relations between the states and the Centre," he told reporters in New Delhi shortly after taking the charge.
Shinde said his predecessor P Chidambaram had done good work and plugged the gaps to a certain extent and that he too would try to further fill those gaps.
"We will have to further go ahead. One has to have good relations with states. The states may be ruled by different parties. But I want to send a message to all chief ministers that we are all Indians and together we will work wherever there is a difficulty," he said.
The statement comes in the backdrop of the opposition the home ministry has faced in recent past to National Counter Terrorism Centre (NCTC) and some other issues.
Shinde thanked Singh and Gandhi for giving him the responsibility of home ministry, saying after Buta Singh, who was home minister in early 1980s, he has become the second Dalit to hold the key post.
He said Rajiv Gandhi had given the responsibility of home ministry to Buta Singh and now Sonia Gandhi and Manmohan Singh gave him the task.
"The Gandhi family has always taken care of the welfare of backward castes. Dalits can also take bigger responsibility. The home ministry is a critical ministry. I have performed in the past and I will again prove through my work as the home minister," Shinde said.
Asked whether he would go ahead with the plan to set up NCTC, which has been facing stiff opposition from the states, he said he has not taken any view on it and would like to talk to the states and his colleagues in the government first.
"I am open minded. Let me talk to the states also. I have to talk and get cooperation from all. This country belongs to the states," he said.
On the Naxal issue, Shinde said there were several reasons for the eruption of the Left Wing Extremism, especially the social reasons, and he would take into consideration all these factors while dealing with it.
To a question about his plan to deal with ongoing anti-corruption movement of Anna Hazare and his team, he said everyone was with the movement but it has to be within a "framework".
"The government will deal with it, the government is dealing it. It is an issue of collective responsibility," he said.
On the terror front, Shinde said it was fact that police could not be deployed everywhere but he would try his best to ensure peace and calm and as he has years of experience in the government, including as Maharashtra chief minister and a police officer in his long career.
He parried questions on issues like Pakistan's non-cooperation in tackling terror, attacks on Indian fishermen by Sri Lankan forces and the Telangana movement.