M A I N   N E W S

Mamata, 6 other Oppn CMs oppose anti-terror body
Say setting up of NCTC violates the principles of federalism
Anita Katyal
Our Political Correspondent

New Delhi, February 17
Key ally Trinamool Congress (TMC) chief and West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee’s growing proximity to the BJP and other non-Congress political players has emerged as a fresh source of concern for the UPA government.

In the latest move, Mamata joined hands with six Opposition chief ministers to oppose the constitution of the National Counter Terrorism Centre (NCTC) on the plea that it violates the principles of federalism. She has shot off a letter to Prime Minister Manmohan Singh objecting to the special powers being given to the NCTC and asked him to “review and withdraw “ the decision.

“It’s is difficult for the state government to accept such arbitrary exercise of power by the Central government/Central agency, which will have a bearing on the rights and privilege of the states as enshrined in the Constitution of India,” she wrote.

Similar letters have been sent by Chief Ministers Naveen Patnaik (Odisha), J.Jayalalithaa (Tamil Nadu) and Narendra Modi (Gujarat) who have objected to the fact that the Centre had not consulted state governments on this issue. Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar and Chief Ministers of Madhya Pradesh and Himachal Pradesh Shivraj Singh Chouhan and P.K.Dhumal, respectively, have also opposed the creation of the anti-terror body which, they said, will encroach on the federal powers of the states.

While the Centre’s immediate task is to see that its ambitious plans to set up the NCTC are not thwarted, it is Mamata Banerjee’s growing tendency to align with non-UPA political players which has really got the UPA government worried as its survival is critically dependent on the TMC’s 22 Lok Sabha MPs.

More importantly, Mamata’s move comes at a time when Naveen Patnaik has been speaking about the presence of a third political front at the national level. Indicating that his party is in favour of leading such a formation, the BJD supremo contacted Mamata Banerjee and Jayalalithaa to seek their support in opposing the NCTC which, he believes, could lay the foundation for greater bonding between the different regional parties and ultimately coalesce into a political front.

On its part, Congress spokesperson Renuka Chaudhary maintained that they will resolve all outstanding issues with their allies through dialogue but also underlined that everybody had a collective responsibility to fight terror and there should be no compromise on security matters. She, however, dismissed Naveen Patnaik's idea of a Third Front, saying it was aware of the fate such a proposition had met in the past.

With relations between the Congress and the TMC on the decline, Mamata has used every opportunity to thumb her nose at the Centre. Much to the embarrassment of the UPA, she had joined the BJP-led NDA in opposing the Lokpal Bill. Similarly, the West Bengal Chief Minister had surprised the ruling combine when she agreed with the BJP’s objections to the Communal Violence Bill when it came up for discussion at last year’s meeting of National Integration Council. Mamata was also on the same page as the opposition on allowing FDI in retail trade, which forced the Centre to backtrack on this key policy decision.

n NCTC officers shall have power to arrest and search under Section 43A of the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act, 1967
n Will have the power to set up Inter State Intelligence Support Teams (INSIST)
n Can seek information, documents, reports, transcripts, cyber info from any agency

States say

n Power to arrest and seize that was vested with the Jt Secy in the Union Home Ministry, the secy, Home Deptt in State Govts is now being sought to be transferred to officers of Intelligence Bureau
n This can be misused. Setting up of INSIST would lead to usurping the states' rights

What is NCTC?

n National Counter Terrorism Centre was first proposed in the aftermath of November 2008 Mumbai attacks. To be functional from March 1
n An over-arching body, NCTC will have powers to tackle terrorism
n All intelligence inputs will go to it
n The Multi Agency Centre (MAC) with pan-India footprint will work under NCTC

Key Terror Attacks

Dec 13, 2001: Attack on Parliament, kills 12
Aug 25, 2003: Twin car bombings in Mumbai kill 52
Oct 29, 2005: 3 blasts in Delhi killing 59, injuring 200
Aug 25, 2007: 42 die in twin explosions in Hyderabad
May 13, 2008: Six explosions tear through Jaipur killing 63 persons
July 26, 2008: Serial blasts in Ahmedabad claim 45 lives
Oct 30, 2008: 13 blasts in Assam and three other towns leave 61 dead
July 13, 2011: 3 blasts in Mumbai, 21 killed 





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