New Delhi: Non-Congress chief ministers on Monday used the annual conference on internal security here to snub the Centre for “security overreach” citing examples of NCTC, Railway Protection Force and the Border Security Force.
Notwithstanding efforts by Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and Home Minister P Chidambaram in trying to reach out to the states that they were together in tackling terrorism, Chief Ministers including Narendra Modi, J Jayalalithaa and Naveen Patnaik hit out at the Centre, accusing it of showing "scant respect" for constitutionally-elected state governments.
Tamil Nadu Chief Minister J Jayalalithaa warned against an "emerging pattern" wherein the state`s powers are "abrogated" by the Centre.
Jayalalithaa accused the Central government of "encroaching on state powers" through NCTC which was in "contravention" to constitutional provisions that accord priority status to police in the State list.
Addressing the CM`s conference, she claimed that the Centre unilaterally decided on the Indo-US joint naval exercise in the Bay of Bengal without taking the state government into confidence.
"Lack of consultation with the states and failure to take the states into confidence is a cogent commentary on the system of governance in the Centre.
"...This is not all. Adding insult to injury, the Central government did not permit the Consul-General of the US Consulate, Chennai, and senior Indian Navy Officials based in Chennai to meet me as the constitutional Head of the Government," she said.
Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi, on the other hand, slammed the Centre for recent controversies with Army, saying tensions between the civil and military wings are bound to adversely impact the internal security of the country.
Speaking at the conference, Modi said, "It is unfortunate that the present Union government has failed to instill faith and confidence about our defence preparedness in the common man."
Modi said the internal security of the country cannot be viewed in isolation as it is intertwined with the external security scenario and the armed forces play an important role in anti-infiltration and anti-insurgency which directly impinges on the internal security of the nation.
"In this context, any lacunae in our defence capabilities on account of resource constraints, demoralisation of the rank and file and tensions between the civil and military wings is bound to have an adverse impact on the Internal Security of the Nation," he said.
The CM said the Centre should take proactive steps "to clear the fog of mistrust and suspicion" that has arisen on account of the "recent unseemly controversy" and not "remain content with mere issuance of statements".
Like Jayalalithaa, Modi too criticised the Centre for its "non-consultative" approach with state governments on key security issues, saying the Centre was creating "state within state" by amending RPF Act, BSF Act which take away powers from state police and meddling with subjects under the state list.
He said politicisation of Central agencies, including the CBI, is increasing and they are used to harass and victimise political rivals of the ruling party at the Centre.
"This approach has gravely compromised the credibility of agencies like CBI and is a matter of concern since these agencies are also involved in internal security matters," he said.
Odisha Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik also sought urgent consultations between the Centre and the states over issues like NCTC saying any delay in this regard would affect handling of law and order problems.
"As you know, we have had a crisis involving abduction of an MLA (Jhina Hikaka) and also two Italian nationals by left wing extremists and this delay will only further aggravate such problems," Patnaik said at the conference.
He said he has been writing "repeatedly" to the Centre that it was a matter of "urgent" importance and an immediate meeting of Chief Ministers should be called to "address concerns about the federal rights of the states".
Later, Modi and Patnaik met Jayalalithaa at the Tamil Nadu House separately.
Patnaik was the first to meet Jayalalithaa and the two were closeted for over 25 minutes. After the meeting, Patnaik refused to divulge what transpired at the meeting, merely saying it was a courtesy call as Jayallithaa is an "old family friend of my father."
Soon after, Modi met Jayalalithaa for 40 minutes and refused to speak to the waiting media. Jayalalithaa also did not speak to the media.
Earlier in the day, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh while addressing the annual conference of chief ministers on internal security tried to reach out the states saying a coordinated efforts is needed to deal with the challenges internal security.
Addressing the same conference Union Home Minister P Chidambaram said that the internal security situation has improved significantly, although the Left-wing extremism continues to be the greatest threat to the country.