Now talk it out

Centre needs to use the May 5 CMs’ meet to assuage their fears on NCTC

Written by The Indian Express | Published: April 5, 2012 12:06 am

Centre needs to use the May 5 CMs’ meet to assuage their fears on NCTC

The Centre has done well to convene a special meeting of chief ministers on May 5 to discuss the fate of the still unborn National Counter-Terrorism Centre (NCTC),which missed its March 1 deadline. A meeting devoted to the NCTC was imperative after several states had raised strong objections to the proposed body. The pull and tug over the NCTC has framed the regrettable pattern the Congress-led government’s relations with states ruled by its political opponents,and even those ruled by its allies,have fallen into. First,the Centre didn’t place its cards on the table. Then,it tried to push the idea through. Later,it yielded to pressure and put the NCTC on hold.

The Congress-led UPA still hasn’t put in place an institutional mechanism to talk to allies at the Centre or to governments in the states. It is yet to show that it fully understands how India’s politics has changed,with the states no longer beholden to a disproportionately powerful Centre. In the present case,it was necessary to address states’ concerns about infringement on their turf. The NCTC,conceived to address the security loopholes exposed by 26/11,was in its final blueprint a much watered down version of its original design. The Centre could have allayed the federalism-in-danger fears,if only it had taken the states on board.

Not every CM who has complained about the NCTC is Mamata Banerjee,who,as part of UPA 2,operates in perpetually oppositional mode. Sensing an arrogant but weak Centre,however,other non-Congress states joined the chorus. The Congress must use the opportunity provided by the May 5 conclave to work things out with the chief ministers.

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