People like Pranab Mukherjee needed everywhere: Cong
New Delhi: Congress on Wednesday kept up the suspense on whether it would make Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee its Presidential poll nominee by remarking that "such people are required everywhere for the benefit of society".
To a series of questions on Mukherjee including on his much-acclaimed reply to the Finance Bill in the Rajya Sabha, party spokesperson Renuka Chowdhary said "this is nothing new for Pranabda. He has always spoken like this."
She was asked whether Mukherjee being greeted by Prime Minister Manmohan Singh followed by everyone from the cabinet after the Finance Bill was passed meant that he was a serious contender for the President’s post.
Chowdhary said the media should rather congratulate him on the fact that he had not consulted a single word from any book while delivering his speech.
To another question on whether Mukherjee is required in Rashtrapati Bhawan, she said "I think such people are required everywhere for the benefit of society".
Chowdhary had a fortnight ago raked up a controversy with her remark that Mukherjee was too important for the party and the government, a comment which ws interpreted as Congress ruling out Mukherjee`s candidature for the top post.
Chowdhary had, however, immediately, clarified that she was not ruling out anyone`s candidature and that she was "partially quoted" that gave such an impression.
The party has been maintaining that it is for the widest possible consensus on the matter and in no hurry to name the "UPA candidate" for the Constitutional post. An announcement is likely only after June 10.
Congress has already held initial discussions with allies Trinamool Congress, DMK, NCP, and RLD and smaller parties.
Party President Sonia Gandhi on Wednesday held consultations in this regard with LJP chief Ram Vilas Paswan but there was no official word on what transpired at the meeting.
Anti-Naxal ops: CRPF seeks AFSPA cover for troops
New Delhi/Ranchi: CRPF has sought the cover of AFSPA for its men conducting anti-Naxal operations, at a time when continuance of the controversial Act in areas of Jammu and Kashmir and the North East is being debated.
The demand for the cover has been made by the commander of CRPF in Jharkhand--Inspector General (Operations) DK Pandey--during a top-level conference on operational matters of the force here.
"In the present system, Jharkhand police is requisitioning CRPF for providing troops for anti-Naxal operations. CRPF is not in a position to launch any operation of its own.”
"Therefore, our achievement is subject to proactive approach of state police. Hence, CRPF should be given (cover under) the Armed Forces Special Power Act for at least six months," the IG said in his conference submission last month.
This is the first time that a security force, deployed in Naxal-affected states, has demanded such a cover.
Sources privy to the development said the CRPF wants these powers for the Palamau division of the state which comprises Palamau, Latehar and Garhwa districts, and has witnessed regular incidents of Naxal violence in the past.
The IG also suggested that if the entire state cannot be brought under the umbrella of the Act, some selected areas can be chosen.
"If this is not possible in the entire state, then at least selective pockets in the areas be chosen for AFSPA," he said.
The request by the IG, who commands 16 battalions (16,000 personnel) of the Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF) and two of the special counter-Naxal force CoBRA in Jharkhand, has been made to the force headquarters and, according to sources, no decision has been taken on the issue as of now.
"The AFSPA cover could be initially given to the CRPF for six months and subsequently reviewed to see whether any human rights violation has taken place during that period and if it has been able to contain Naxalism," a source said.
The CRPF had lost 10 personnel while 77 were injured during 2011 in Jharkhand and the state has been the most challenging zone for the force after Chhattisgarh in the anti-Naxal operations.
The continuance of AFSPA has been under debate in both political and military circles specially in reference to its operation in Jammu and Kashmir and the north eastern states.
With the help of Jharkhand police, the para-military forces had completed Octopus-I and Octopus-II in Latehar and Garhwa districts in April-May.
The police claim to have shot dead some Maoists but say the bodies were supposedly taken away by their cadres.
According to police records 18 out of 24 districts in the state are Naxal-affected with isolated incidents being reported in non-Naxal districts like Dumka and Pakur too.