The all-party meeting on anti-Naxal strategy on Monday,which followed the meeting of chief ministers last week,has come up with predictable responses,with the political class uniting in condemning the Chhattisgarh incident,and resolving to overcome the Maoist challenge. Such noises are normal every time there is a major Naxal attack,and slowly dissipate without making much impact.
But the very nature of attack in Chhattisgarh last month,where for the first time the top political leadership came under direct attack from the Maoists,presents an opportunity that can alter the governments terms of engagement with the Naxalite groups. Over the last one week,we have heard from the chief ministers about adopting a unified approach to deal with Maoists and the need to help each other out. On Monday,we heard the Prime Minister say that his government had already initiated steps on strengthening its anti-Naxal strategy though he was not ready to disclose details yet.
Now that the talk is over,it is time to effectively translate the resolve into action on the ground. What is needed is a true unity in pushing forward the governments stated two-pronged agenda against the Maoists. Joint operations by security forces of the different states and the Centre have been happening for quite some time now,but what has been missing is a total collaborative exercise where each of the Naxal-affected states become a stakeholder in any anti-Naxal programme anywhere.
The upcoming elections to the Assembly and the Lok Sabha next year can be a good excuse for governments to act in unison. Parties of all hues would like to initiate political activities in the Maoist-infested areas,and it would be in the interest of all the state governments to quickly prepare the ground for such activities to take place.
But for that to happen,governments,in the states and at the Centre,have to ensure that unlike all previous occasions,when momentum has been lost after similar brainstormings,they do not go on an auto-pilot mode. One only hopes the sheer survival instincts of the political class would force them not to sit back and relax.
Amitabh is a senior assistant editor based in Delhi