|OUR SPECIAL CORRESPONDENT|
Patna, March 4: Nitish Kumar has virtually refused to support Union home minister P. Chidambaram’s campaign to arrive at a consensus for intensifying Operation Greenhunt against Maoists.
The Bihar chief minister skipped the February 9 meeting with Chidambaram and Bengal chief minister Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee. He is yet to respond to the Union home minister’s letter requesting a discussion on the issue, triggering the perception that he does not want to antagonise the Maoists in the poll year.
Nitish believes that there must be proper balance between tough action and introduction of development schemes and democracy at the grassroots. “Tough action alone is not a panacea and I am opposed to it,” he reiterated categorically.
Talking to The Telegraph, the chief minister came out with facts and figures to support his contention that violent Maoist activities, described as the biggest threat to internal security by the Prime Minister, can be tackled by strengthening democracy at grassroots and taking development schemes to the hinterlands.
“It is not only the consideration to win elections that has compelled me to oppose tough action,” Nitish said. “Working as a political activist in a Naxalite-affected state (Bihar) for over 30 years, I have consistently been advocating peaceful and democratic ways of dealing with alienated elements of society.”
“If I advocate for development and democracy it does not mean that the state machinery and its laws should not work. We have arrested 406 Maoists in 2009 against 107 in 2004. Responding to our endeavour, as many as 17 hardcore Naxalites surrendered in 2009 against only one in 2004,” he said, adding that his government allowed its actions to do the talking.
He quoted statistics to drive home the point that his approach has played a bigger role in containing Naxalism in Bihar in over four years of his rule. Quoting figures from police records, he said: “The state had witnessed 342 incidents of violence and 218 murders in connection with Maoist-related violence in 2004 in the golden era of UPA, with the Manmohan Singh government at the centre and Lalu-Rabri regime in Bihar.
“Our government seized 52,833 tonne explosives and over 71,000 detonators from Maoists in 2009 against 17kg explosives and 7,401 detonators in 2004,” he said.
A large section of the bureaucracy and grassroot-level political activists also admitted that introduction of party-less panchayat raj institutions and reservation of panchayat and local bodies’ seats for EBCs and backward class women have ensured the participation of weaker sections in the governance and developmental process. These sections, by and large, were Maoist supporters.
Besides, Nitish Kumar introduced the novel sarkar aap ke dwar (government at your doorsteps) programme under which he and the officials visited hinterlands to talk to people, locate problems, solve them and even implement development schemes at the micro-level.
He said that these measures coupled with the administrative and police action in accordance with the existing laws have led him to succeed in containing Naxalism and he has no compulsion to toe Chidambaram’s tough line unlike his Gujarat and Bengal counterparts, Narendra Modi and Buddhadeb.
Friday, March 05, 2010
Posted by Fact at 5:31 AM