Rethink anti-Maoist strategy: Digvijay to Chidambaram


New Delhi : Senior Congress leader Digvijay Singh Wednesday said Home Minister P. Chidambaram should not opt for a “narrow sectarian view” when dealing with Maoist rebels and, in a scathing criticism of the man, said he could be “extremely rigid”.

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Digvijay Singh, in an article published in a national daily, wrote that Chidambaram is “extremely rigid once he makes up his mind”, even as he praised the home minister for being “extremely intelligent, articulate, committed and sincere”.

“I have been a victim of his intellectual arrogance many times, but we still are good friends. I have differed with his strategy that does not take into consideration the people living in the (Maoist) affected areas who ultimately matter,” the Congress leader said.

The article came two days after an official circular said that Prime Minister Manmohan Singh did not want his ministers to speak about internal security.

Digvijay Singh said the home minister was ignoring the issues that affect the tribals and was “treating it purely as a law and order problem”.

“When I raised these issues with him, he said it was not his responsibility. I strongly believe in the collective responsibility of the cabinet, and as home minister, it is his responsibility to take a holistic view of the issue and put it up to the cabinet rather than opt for a narrow sectarian view,” Digvijay Singh said.

He said the Maoist problem could not be solved “by ignoring the hopes and aspirations of the people living in these areas”.

“Are these people getting the benefits of the public distribution system, MNREGA, NRHM and other pro-poor policies” the Congress leader raised the question, referring to the government’s flagship social welfare schemes.

Wondering why Chidambaram had taken the responsibility of the government’s failure in the April 6 attack in which 76 security personnel were killed in Chhattisgarh, Digvijay Singh asked: “Why is the home minister taking the flak when it is the chief minister who should be answering the questions?”

“As far as law and order is concerned, the buck stops with the chief minster, not with the home minister.”

A government circular had said April 12 that the prime minister “desires” that ministers should not speak on the internal security of the country and should not voice “different opinions” on the matter. It also said the home ministry was competent to react to such matters.