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Bastar attack: Cong wants CM to go
Claims security lapse led to Maoist strike BJP says don’t politicise issue
KV Prasad & Vibha Sharma
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, May 28
The Congress today trained it guns on Chhattisgarh Chief Minister Raman Singh and demanded his resignation for his government’s alleged failure to provide adequate security cover to party leaders, who were killed in a deadly Maoist attack on May 25. The BJP, on the other hand, was firming up strategy to counter Congress offensive.

As many as 27 persons, including state Congress chief Nand Kumar Patel and prominent leader Mahendra Karma, were killed in the audacious attack on a party convoy in Bastar.

“Raman Singh should step down. The irresponsible attitude of the state government has led to a huge loss to democratic values and the Chief Minister should resign admitting the security lapse” said party spokesperson Bhaktacharan Das said.

Through a set of posers, Das said it was surprising that why Karma, a former Home Minister in Chhattisgarh and who was on the hit list of Maoists, was not given adequate security cover. Karma was entitled to Z category security, he said. The state government should clarify whether it had received an intelligence input about the possibility of an attack, said Das.

AICC general secretary BK Hari Prasad, who is in charge of party affairs in the state, said a few days ago the BJP had held a Vikas Yatra in the Bastar region under heavy security. “Why the security wasn’t of the same scale during the Congress’ Parivartan Yatra,” he asked.

Alleging that Bastar region has become a "victim of crony capitalism", Das said industrial groups in the area were encouraging Naxalism by funding them heavily to keep the local people under an atmosphere of fear.

The BJP is preparing a plan to rein in the possible political fallout of the incident in the poll-bound Chhattisgarh.

Senior BJP leaders are visiting the state to pay condolences to families of the slain leaders. So far, BJP leaders have decided to act with restraint against the Congress’ onslaught against Raman Singh and his government.

“This is not the right time to indulge in political one-upmanship. We are a political party and will give a befitting reply with proofs when the time is right,” they said. The BJP also accused Congress leaders of ignoring standard operating procedures and warning signals by the authorities.

Asking the Congress not to politicise the issue, BJP spokesperson Prakash Javadekar said: “The Congress should be cautious while levelling the allegations.”

Clearly, the saffron party is worried over the way the Congress is gunning for Raman Singh. The topmost decision making body of the BJP--- the Parliamentary Board --- held an emergency meeting yesterday to take stock of the emerging political situation in the state.

The party is banking on Chhattisgarh majorly to reverse the trend of poll failures that it faced in Uttrakhand, Himachal Pradesh and, more recently, Karnataka.

Punishment for Patel & Karma, say Maoists

Claiming responsibility for the attack on a Congress convoy, Maoists on Tuesday said their main objective was to "punish" senior party leaders, including Nand Kumar Patel and Mahendra Karma for their "anti-people" policies. The Maoists said they wanted to avenge atrocities on innocent villagers and tribal women during 'Salwa Judum' (anti-Naxal vigilante movement).


Centre to turn heat on Maoists
Ajay Banerjee/TNS

New Delhi, May 28
The Ministry of Home Affairs has ordered a complete review of the anti-Maoist strategy in the aftermath of May 25 attack on Congress leaders.

Under the new strategy, there would be re-calibration of operations to make them more aggressive. Besides, there would be a firm check on the misuse of Central funds under the integrated action plan and better coordination among central security agencies and state police forces.

“We are coming up with a well-thought out and well-discussed plan and not a knee-jerk reaction,” said Minister of State for Home Affairs RPN Singh. “We will review everything, including the security apparatus and conduct of operations,” said the minister, adding that there is no move so far to rope in the Army in these operations.

The minister also ruled out holding peace talks with the extremists unless they abjure violence. "They are not interested in talks or following the democratic process. There will be no talks unless they abjure violence," he said. The minister said when former Home Minister P Chidambaram had announced the offer of dialogue to the Maoists, they did not come forward.

A Standard Operating Procedures (SOP) would be framed for political parties, their programmes and on movement of leaders, he said. The MHA’s focus will be on huge funds that are lying unused under the Planning Commission’s Integrated Action Plan (IAP) for 82 tribal and backward districts.

Union Home Secretary RK Singh, who is touring Chhattisgarh, and the Director of Intelligence Bureau held a meeting today to discuss immediate plugging of security gaps. It was highlighted that the first priority should be to build roads connecting the CRPF camps. The forces are handicapped due to lack of mobility in the absence of roads.

The MHA also laid stress on a proactive unified command in Maoist-affected states. “The need is to respond faster to inputs from Central agencies and speedy processing of technical inputs from UAVs and other snooping equipment,” said sources.



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