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Saturday, 5 May 2012

Mamata, others refuse to yield an inch on NCTC; PM’s words cut no ice

Mamata, others refuse to yield an inch on NCTC; PM’s words cut no ice

Mamata Banerjee and Jayalalithaa at the Chief Ministers' meeting on NCTC on Saturday. Pictures by Prem Singh
New Delhi, May 5: West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee’s chat with Tamil Nadu Chief Minister Jayalalithaa was a delicious grab for shutterbugs at the Chief Ministers’ meeting on the National Counter Terrorism Centre (NCTC) on Saturday.
The two chief ministers were united in their strident opposition to the move to set up a NCTC, despite placatory remarks by Prime Minister Manmohan Singh in his inaugural speech. Singh defended the NCTC as well as Centre-state relations.
“It is not our Government’s intention in any way to affect the distribution of powers between the states and the Union that our Constitution provides,” the Prime Minister said.
Mamata was steadfast in her opposition. She told reporters during the break that there was no question of even forming a sub-committee when the entire idea of the NCTC was unacceptable. Jayalalithaa, almost as vociferous in opposing the NCTC, was, however, in favour of setting up a sub-committee to discuss ways in which the Centre and states can work together to tackle terrorism.
Mamata demanded nothing less than the withdrawal of the February 3 order of the Ministry of Home Affairs headed by P Chidambaram for setting up the NCTC. The Prime Minister should hold meetings with chief ministers to review the internal security, Mamata said.
On Saturday, Mamata was seated in the same front row seat as Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi was at last month’s meeting of Chief Ministers. Modi had to squeeze his way through a middle row where he could exchange pleasantries with fellow Bharatiya Janata Party leader, Chhattisgarh CM Raman Singh, who is also a comrade-in-arms in opposing NCTC.
Meanwhile, at the imposing Vigyan Bhawan where the day-long meeting was being held, old equations were being strengthened and new ones seemed to be forming. So, when Modi met Bihar’s chief minister Nitish Kumar, the excitement was palpable even in the bureaucracy. Jayalalithaa’s meeting with her counterpart from Odisha, Naveen Patnaik, also caught their attention.
All of these leaders were close to what Modi put in no uncertain terms: roll back the NCTC.
Of course, it also was about brewing a political storm against the Congress-led United Progressive Alliance government than just complaining about subversion of the federal principle.
Host Chidambaram did not tire of stressing the need for an agency like the NCTC, and sought to convince the states that the NCTC will not intrude into their rights.
He cited similar organisations in the United States and Germany with overarching structures, and listed six premises on which NCTC will be based.
These are Centre-state shared responsibility; terrorists not recognising boundaries; infiltration from foreign countries; importance of technology; obligations to international community and avoiding the need for state anti-terror squads to work with multiple central organisations.
As the home minister attempted to explain the legal strands of NCTC, he perhaps overlooked the political mood of “federalism”.
http://www.telegraphindia.com/1120505/jsp/frontpage/story_15455401.jsp#.T6VTG9ntuUQ