Polling will be peaceful, need to combat communalism: Chidambaram


New Delhi : Amid reports of terrorist threats to politicians in the run-up to and during the general elections, Home Minister P. Chidamabaram said Thursday there was no need for any panic or alarm and underlined that the government was taking all measures to ensure peaceful polls.

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“There is no need for any panic. There is no need for any alarm. Our levels of preparedness have gone up substantially,” Chidambaram told reporters at the Congress party headquarters here.

“We have deployed enough security forces in the run-up to the elections. We have taken all measures that are required to ensure polling takes place peacefully,” he said.

Chidambaram last week cautioned 40 VVIPs, including leaders of political parties and chief ministers, to take all precautions while campaigning and specifically detailed a list of dos and don’ts while venturing out during electioneering.

Leaders on the radar of various terror groups include BJP leader L.K. Advani, AIADMK chief J. Jayalalitha, Telugu Desam Party (TDP) chief N. Chandrababu Naidu, union ministers Pranab Mukherjee and A.K. Antony and the chief ministers of Uttar Pradesh, Gujarat and West Bengal.

Chidambaram linked the terrorist threat in India to the deteriorating security situation in South Asia, especially in Pakistan and Afghanistan and to a lesser extent, Bangladesh and Sri Lanka.

“We have be on our guard,” he said, urging the media to separate the wheat from the chaff and focus on real issues like coastal security, communal harmony and peace.

The minister also underlined the need for unity to fight terrorism.

“A country divided on religious and caste lines couldn’t fight terrorism. We need to vanquish the communal agenda if you want to vanquish terror,” he said, claiming that only the Congress could fight terrorism without dividing the country.

Earlier in the day Chidambaram called on Advani at his residence, in deference to his “age and seniority” to brief him on intelligence alerts about political leaders being targeted by terrorist groups during campaigning.

“It was basically a briefing on the safety measures that needed to be taken while campaigning,” Advani’s personal secretary Deepak Chopra told IANS.

The advisory to some of those on the hit list instructs them to keep police in the loop about their campaign routes, not to accept garlands while campaigning, not to mingle closely with surging crowds and keep security agencies aware of a change in route during election roadshows.