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‘Can’t counter hi-tech terrror with 19th-century laws’

Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi was anointed the BJP’s new poster boy as the party devised its anti-terror plank to hit out at the UPA government...

Written by Sumankjha | New Delhi | September 19, 2008 12:29:42 am

Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi was anointed the BJP’s new poster boy as the party devised its anti-terror plank to hit out at the UPA government at its recently concluded national executive in Bangalore. Modi is now slated to crisscross the country as the shadow of party’s prime ministerial candidate, L K Advani, with Delhi as his first stop-over this Friday.

In an interview with The Indian Express, the Gujarat CM says that the country needs a “dedicated cadre of Indian Intelligence officers” to fight terror. He also claims that during his meeting with the Prime Minister last fortnight, he gave Dr Manmohan Singh Intelligence inputs on two mainline cities (with Delhi one of them) that could be attacked by terror agents. Excerpts:

The upshot of the recent three-day BJP national executive was an anti-terror plank with Narendra Modi as its face. Does it show a churning in the party?

Terror poses the gravest threat to the entire country, from Kashmir to Kanyakumari. Terror agents are increasingly targeting our centres of economic importance. While states from Kerala to Haryana are being targeted by terrorists; the eastern states are facing problems from Naxals. Since the Mumbai blasts, I have been writing to the Prime Minister, asking him to convene a meeting of all the chief ministers. Nothing seems to have happened, though.

Is this the reason that L K Advani has been talking about Gujarat — and Narendra Modi — as the party’s anti-terror theme?

Advanijee is an MP from Gujarat. It’s natural, therefore, that he would be familiar with the developments in the state. It’s true that the exemplary work done by the state police helped us crack the blasts case. It also showed what our forces are capable of, if policing is kept absolutely free of politics.

You recently said in Bangalore that you had forewarned the Centre on the Delhi terror attacks¿

I had a one-hour-long meeting with the Prime Minister recently where he was accompanied by the National Security Advisor and the Home Minister. The Gujarat police had gathered substantive leads in the blasts case by then. I told the central leaders that the terrorists were preparing to target two mainline cities. The PM and his colleagues were at their attentive best. It’s evident, however, that no pre-emptive measures could be taken (in Delhi).

You — as also the BJP — say that Gujarat has managed to crack down on terror agents in an effective manner. What measures do you think are needed to strengthen internal security here?

Among the numerous contributions of Sardar Patel was the creation of the IAS and IPS in the country. The need of the hour is, however, a dedicated cadre of Indian Intelligence officers. Many officers regard their transfer to Intelligence wings as some kind of “shunting posting.” The mindset needs to be overhauled and a new service alone is the answer.

Also, while terrorists are using the latest technology and know-how, the state cannot fight them using a 19th century legal system. After 9/11, the world community — including countries like Pakistan and Indonesia — has enacted effective laws to check terror attacks. It’s unfortunate that here in India anti-terror measures have sought to been interpreted through community-specific prisms.

You have taken some measures in Gujarat too in this regard¿

We have plans wherein a dedicated university would train students for five years after their twelfth. This vast pool of human resources then could be used in a number of areas related to internal security. The university is called Raksha Shakti University. Then a forensics science university is on the anvil where the accent would be on technology and its varied applications in fighting terror.

How important is the BJP as in instrument in the country’s fight against terror?

The BJP is the only party that puts the country ahead of the organisation. We are thus best-suited to lead the country’s war on terror.

The BJP is almost non-existent in vast stretches of the Hindi heartland. And how important are alliances for the party?

It was once said that the BJP doesn’t exist south of the Vindhyas. We still came to power at the Centre when we hardly had any presence in any of the four southern states. So the first argument is fallacious. Yes, the politics of the day is polarized between the two poles – the BJP-led alliance and the Congress-led alliance. The BJP alliance will gain more strength in the run-up to elections.

There has been a lot of speculation on your relations between party president Rajnath Singh. Also, how would you describe your working relations with colleagues like Sushma Swaraj and Arun Jaitley?

One needs to learn from every other worker of the party.

You are making frequent appearances outside Gujarat now. Delhi on Friday, more such visits are being planned?

I have been traveling extensively for the organization work for over two decades now. The philosophy of “Charaivati, charaivati” (keep on walking) has been my guiding light. So what’s new in my traveling to other states?

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