New Delhi: In view of the continued criticism over his handling of the Naxal problem from within his party Union Home Minister P Chidambaram said that, although, he is fulfilling his responsibilities in the best possible manner but would be “happy” to handover the baton to “someone” who can do better.
The Home Minister, in an interview to a leading news daily Thursday, referred to the criticism by senior Congress leader Digvijay Singh, who had termed him as “rigid” and “intellectually arrogant” and criticised the anti-Maoist strategy as police-centric and not addressing the “root causes” of the problem, the Home Minister said that he would welcome someone, who is capable of handling the job better than him.
Chidambaram said, “He is the general secretary of our party... I have a job to do and I am doing my job to the best of my ability. If someone can do the job better, I would be the happiest person.”
Digvijay had last week stuck to his comments and claimed that his views were shared by the Congress party too.
In the interview, the Home Minister delved deeper into issues ranging from the long-term strategies required to uproot the Naxalism from Indian soil, the nexus between political parties and the CPI (Maoists), foreign hand and financial support to the Naxalites and his much talked about phrase ‘limited mandate’.
Describing the CPI (Maoists) as the most ‘crafty capitalists’, the Home Minister said that they conduct their business in violation of the laws, they collect rents, but don’t pay taxes and direct that money against the State, so all this makes them very crafty capitalists.
Chidambaram said that he understands the compulsion that forces industrial houses to pay extortion money to Naxals as it is a battle of survival for them but he made it clear that he doesn’t approve of it yet understands that the State is “helpless”.
He also accepted that there is a growing “trust deficit” between corporate India and tribals, adding that some NGOs are acting towards widening the gap.
“Today the tribals begin with some sense of distrust and that distrust is made deeper by a large number of organisations which paint every attempt to bring in modern industry as an attempt to exploit the tribals,” he was quoted as saying by the newspaper.
On the support base of the Naxals, Chidambaram said that there is no evidence of any direct links between the CPI Maoists and their counterparts in Nepal or Islamic terrorists.
He also brushed aside claims by CPI (Marxists) that Union Railway Minister Mamata Banerjee led Trinamool Congress was working with the Maoists in West Bengal, terming it as a canard spread by the Left.
However, he did, citing intelligence reports, agree that some political parties had an understanding with the ultras in parts of Jharkhand. He did not elaborate on the identity of the said parties.
Expressing unhappiness with the progress of the anti-naxal operations, Chidambaram said that he was not fully satisfied with the results. He admitted that there are some areas where the security forces have been able to assert the authority of the State but in the process the forces have also suffered major setbacks.
Talking about his ‘limited mandate’ Chidambaram said there were constitutional limitations while dealing with law and order since it is a state subject.
On question of successful replication of the Andhra Pradesh model in Naxal-affected states, Chidambaram stated that Andhra Pradesh succeeding since it managed to built capacity, their intelligence, and the fine-tuning of the way they operated in Naxal areas.
The Home Minister stressed that Naxal-affected states like Jharkhand, Bihar and Chhattisgarh needed some more time to built that capacity and fine-tune their anti-Naxal strategies since their passing through a very difficult phase.
He concluded by expressing optimism that making the people stake holders in government initiative will go a long way in addressing the Naxal threat.