Consensus on NCTC eludes as UPA, non-Congress CMs battle rages on
Moneylife Digital Team 05 May 2012

Notwithstanding appeals by Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and Home Minister P Chidambaram for a broad consensus, non-Congress states rejected the NCTC again

New Delhi: An agreement still appeared to elude the Centre's proposal on the anti-terror hub the National Counter Terrorism Centre (NCTC) with non-Congress states rejecting it as "not acceptable" and opposing it "tooth and nail", notwithstanding appeals by Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and Home Minister P Chidambaram for a broad consensus, reports PTI.

A day-long meeting, convened by the Union government to bridge the differences with the states, especially a dozen non-Congress Chief Ministers who have opposed the NCTC, went on expected lines.

Even Congress ally National Conference voiced reservations over the NCTC in its present form saying it makes it as stringent as the controversial Armed Forces Special Powers Act.

Significantly, opposition BJP leader and Chief Minister of central India's Chhattisgarh state Raman Singh said they would support NCTC if their suggestions are incorporated and NCTC is suitably amended.

Making a strong pitch for the formation of NCTC, the Prime Minister said its establishment is not a State versus Centre issue but will work as a vehicle of country's combined efforts to curb terrorism.

Stressing that NCTC will supplement the counter-terrorism capabilities of the states and not supplant them, Singh asked the state governments to work with the Centre in dealing with terrorism.

In his speech, the Home Minister, the prime mover of the NCTC proposal, said terrorists do not recognise boundaries and the Centre and State governments have to work together to make the country safe and secure.

"We have to work together. With State Governments and the Central Government working together, the Opposition and the Treasury working together, civil society organisations and Government institutions working together I am confident we can make the country more safe and more secure," Mr Chidambaram said.

He pointed out that there are cases where, despite inputs regarding the presence of terrorists, the security agencies concerned did not act either due to lack of capacity or lack of a timely decision.

"Most of these cases concerned so-called 'Jihadi' terrorists and cadres of CPI(Maoists). What should the Central government do in such cases?," he said.

The Home Minister said the NCTC will be an important pillar of new security architecture considering the fact that under the Constitution, countering terrorism is a shared responsibility of the Central government and the State Governments.

UPA constituent and Chief Minister of West Bengal state Mamata Banerjee outright rejected the NCTC saying it was not required. She said setting up of institutions like NCTC 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 as it was "not acceptable" to the states.

Accusing the Centre of behaving like "Viceroys of yore", Chief Minister of Gujarat Narendra Modi said constitution of NCTC is a conscious strategy to cast the Centre as an "omnipresent" ruler with states portrayed as dependent vassals.

Mr Modi accused the Centre of changing the "well-defined and constitutionally mandated" boundaries of Centre-state relations and said there was a disturbing sequence of events in the recent past which revealed "centralists and autocratic mindset that militates against all canons of federalism".

Opposing the NCTC tooth and nail, Tamil Nadu Chief Minister J Jayalalithaa accused the Centre of taking the country towards "autocracy" and demanded that a Sub-Committee of Chief Ministers be set up to go into the proposed body till when it should be kept in "abeyance".

Launching an all-round attack on the Home Ministry, she alleged that Tamil Nadu was being shown "utter contempt" by the Centre which did not even send a copy of the order setting up the NCTC.

Strongly opposing Centre's plan for setting up a NCTC, Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar said the proposal violates the principle of federalism and the structure adopted for it suffers from serious and basic flaws.

Odisha Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik said no democratic country has given wide ranging powers to their secret intelligence agencies and similarly the NCTC should not be a part of the Intelligence Bureau.

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