New Delhi: The unending deadlock over formation of the National Counter Terrorism Centre (NCTC) continued on Saturday with chief ministers of several states strongly opposing the proposed anti-terror intelligence body advocated by Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and Home Minister P Chidambaram.
Manmohan Singh’s daylong meeting to bring all chief ministers on board and address their fears that the NCTC, which has been put on hold, will erode powers of states went fruitless.
The Prime Minister, in his address at the meet, stressed that the setting up of the NCTC was not a state versus Centre issue, saying there was a need to fight terrorism together.
“It is not the government’s intention to affect distribution of powers between states and the Union,” PM Singh said.
“The setting up of NCTC is aimed to coordinate counter-terror efforts throughout this vast country,” Singh told CMs, describing terrorism as one of the most potent threats to national security.
However, Tamil Nadu Chief Minister J Jayalalithaa, Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi, Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar and Chhattisgarh Chief Minister Raman Singh vehemently opposed the anti-terror agency saying that the Centre was trying to play as an undisputed leader.
Interestingly, West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee, who is among the front-runners to oppose the NCTC despite being a partner in the ruling United Progressive Alliance (UPA), stuck to her stand against NCTC`s controversial powers of search, seizure and arrest.
NCTC not acceptable: Mamata
Slamming the Centre for taking a unilateral decision on the formation of NCTC, Mamata Banerjee said such institutions "upset" the federal structure of the country and was "not acceptable" to the state.
She said setting up of institutions like National Counter Terrorism Centre with the proposed powers of arrest and seizure upsets the federal structure of the country and strongly urged the Central government to withdraw order on its formation.
"It is unfortunate that in utter disregard to these federal principles, the NCTC was set up by an executive order dated February 3, 2012 of the Union Home Ministry without adequate consultations with the States,” she said.
Centre behaving as Viceroys of yore: Modi
Accusing the Centre of behaving like "Viceroys of yore", Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi said the constitution of NCTC is a conscious strategy to cast the Centre as an "omnipresent" ruler with states portrayed as dependent vassals.
Underlining that the fight against terror requires clear vision and a strong political will, Modi said there was a need to carry along all constituents of federal polity and build a conscious view in finalising the strategy to fight it.
"Piecemeal approach with disjointed efforts will not lead us to the desired goal. Without comprehensively reviewing our past efforts and actions we would go on creating agencies and organisations and yet fail to achieve the purpose," Modi said.
NCTC violates principle of federalism: Nitish
Strongly opposing the Centre`s plan for setting up an NCTC, Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar said it "violates" the principle of federalism and the structure adopted for it suffers from "serious and basic flaws".
Referring to Emergency days, Kumar said that if such powers are given to a secret intelligence agency of the Central Government, they will remain prone to misuse against political rivals and asked the government to immediately withdraw it.
Jayalalithaa attacks Home Ministry
Rejecting the NCTC in its present form, Tamil Nadu Chief Minister J Jayalalithaa blasted the Home Ministry, saying it was trying to "belittle" the state governments and treating them as "pawns on a chess board" instead of addressing "gaps and deficiencies" in counter terrorism capabilities.
Addressing Chief Ministers and Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, Jayalalithaa said the Home Ministry`s move to accumulate the counter-terrorism powers with the central agency "is preposterous and reveals total lack of understanding of ground realities".
NCTC against federal structure: Raman Singh
Opposing the formation of NCTC, Chhattisgarh Chief Minister Raman Singh said it was against the federal structure of the Constitution.
"Our Constitution has cooperation and coordination-based federalism, but with the NCTC notification, I feel that it is being changed into a sub-ordination-based federalism," the Chief Minister of the BJP-ruled state said.
He also cited lack of clarity on some of the provisions on the NCTC circulated through an office memorandum by the Home Ministry recently to States and suggested changes in them.