BJP government has not understood Maoist problem: Ajit Jogi

By Sujeet Kumar, IANS,

Raipur : The spurt in Maoist violence in Chhattisgarh is because the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) government has not understood the complexity of the leftwing problem, former chief minister and Congress leader Ajit Jogi said Sunday, hours after 12 paramilitary personnel were killed in a landmine blast triggered by the rebels.

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“Unfortunately they (the BJP government) are not understanding the complexity of the Naxal (Maoist) problem and are treating it as a mere law and order problem,” Jogi told IANS in an interview.

The Maoists triggered a powerful landmine blast in mineral-rich Bastar region late Saturday evening as a truck with security forces was returning to camp, killing 12 troopers.

Jogi warned that if the “misunderstanding” of the Maoist problem continued, the rebels would consolidate their base even in urban areas as they have done in the interior areas of the state.

“The fight against Maoists should be on three fronts, first on the socio-economic level where authorities must work on raising the quality of life of the local people dominated by tribals, alleviating their poverty, plus development of the region,” said Jogi, who became the first chief minister of the state when Chhattisgarh came into existence in November 2000. He ruled till November 2003 when the BJP came to power in the state’s maiden assembly polls.

“The second front is a political solution. We must start the process of finding a political solution. If Nepal Maoists can talk to the government then there is no reason why we can’t persuade our extremists who are mainly tribals,” he said.

He also stressed that the state government needs to improve on the law and order front. “We must modernise our police force, back them with latest weapons and provide them all support so that every bullet of the rebels can be replied by bullets,” the 63-year-old Indian Administrative Services (IAS) officer-turned-politician said. He has been confined to a wheelchair since a near-fatal road accident in April 2004.

“When I was chief minister, the Maoist menace was restricted to only border areas of the state, but now Maoists have strong presence across the state… even in Raipur district,” Jogi said.

Officials at the police headquarters here say that the state has witnessed over 1,100 casualties in Maoist violence since 2000 and the insurgents are expanding their base outside the forested stretches.