Patna: Describing the Naxal problem as the gravest challenge facing India, Home Minister Rajnath Singh on Friday asked all states which are grappling with the menace to appoint as district magistrates and superintendents of police such officers who have the "zeal" to fight the rebels.
Addressing the Eastern Zonal Council (EZC) meeting here, Singh said that without peace and security, development would not come to the country. Hence, ensuring security for everyone is the primary objective of the government, he said.
"I want to appeal to all Maoist-hit states to appoint those officers who have the zeal to to fight the Maoists as DMs and SPs," he said in the presence of chief ministers of Bihar and Jharkhand and two ministers from Odisha and West Bengal. These four states, members of EZC, are all affected by the Naxal problem.
The chief ministers of Odisha and West Bengal were absent from the meet and sent their representatives.
Singh said it would be difficult to control Naxal violence without proper leadership and, therefore, it is necessary to appoint good officers in naxal-affected districts.
Maoist violence is the gravest problem facing the country and the central and state governments must fight it together, the Home Minister maintained.
"I want to assure all necessary help from the central government in this task," he said.
Singh said that the zonal council meetings were an ideal forum for resolving common problems faced by the states and steps would be taken to convene it regularly, possibly every six months.
The zonal councils are headed by the Union Home Minister and each zone nominates one chief minister as its vice- chairman on a rotation basis.
The zonal councils are a forum where issues between the Centre and the states, as also those between the states themselves, can be resolved through free and frank discussions and consultations. Being advisory bodies, there is full scope for free and frank exchange of views at such meetings.
Although there are a host of other fora like the National Development Council, Inter-State Council, Governor's/Chief Minister's Conferences and other periodica l high-level meets held under the auspices of the Union government, the zonal councils are different, both in content and character.
They are regional fora for cooperative endeavour between states linked with each other economically, politically and culturally.
Being compact high-level bodies meant especially to look after the interests of the individual zones, they are capable of focusing attention on specific issues taking into account regional factors while, at the same time, keeping the national perspective in view.
The main objectives behind the creation of such councils were to promote national integration, arrest the growth of acute state consciousness, regionalism and particularistic tendencies, enabling the Centre and the states to cooperate and exchange ideas and experiences and establish a climate of cooperation amongst the states for successful and speedy execution of development projects.
During the previous UPA regime, most of the Central Zonal Council meetings as well as Zonal Standing Committee meetings took place in Delhi.
The states have been divided into five zones and each zone has its council comprising the chief minister, two ministers and chief secretary of each state.
The meeting of the Central Zonal Council will be held on Monday in Lucknow. Uttar Pradesh, Uttarakhand, Madhya Pradesh and Chhattisgarh are members of that council.