The chief ministers of Gujarat,Orissa and Tamil Nadu lashed out at the central government today,complaining that it neither trusted the states nor showed them respect while taking security-related decisions.
Even as the prime minister and home minister stressed on the need for states to look beyond their boundaries in matters related to internal security,Narendra Modi,Naveen Patnaik and J Jayalalithaa maintained that the federal character of governance could not be tampered with,and that the Centre could not take unilateral decisions on subjects that fell in the domain of the states.
Modi,Patnaik and Jayalalithaa who met later separately were at the forefront of the non-Congress opposition to the Centres decision to create a National Counter Terrorism Centre (NCTC) in February. A discussion on NCTC was not on the agenda today a separate conference of CMs has been called on May 5 to discuss that but it still became the rallying point for these chief ministers,and some others,to raise their grievances against the Centre.
There can be no uniform pattern in policing in the country as each state has its own distinct cultural,communal,social and economic aspects…Trying to intimidate and browbeat the states through top-down structures particularly when police is a state subject is not acceptable… there are continuous veiled attempts by the Centre to weaken the states with too much interference which is detrimental to national interest, Jayalalithaa said.
Modi said unilateral decisions like the one to create a NCTC was fuelling mistrust between the Centre and the states.
Such mistrust on matters related to internal security is extremely dangerous to the country, he said later while talking to reporters. I have requested the Prime Minister to take steps at this very meeting to ensure that this gap of trust is bridged immediately. But till such unilateral decisions are taken by the Centre,the trust cannot be restored, he said.
Patnaik said decisions on security matters needed to be taken in consonance with the federal rights of all the states of the country.
The new laws that the Centre wishes to bring must be done in consultation with the state governments. We chief ministers are custodians of democracy and the rights of peoples in our states, he said.
West Bengals Mamata Banerjee and Bihars Nitish Kumar, two other chief ministers who were vehement in rejecting the NCTC in its present form,restricted themselves to the agenda of the meeting. Mamata was not present and her speech was read out by her finance minister Amit Mitra.
In the morning,Prime Minister Manmohan Singh sought the cooperation of states in strengthening internal security.
Internal security is a matter in which the states and the Centre must work together,hand in hand,and in harmony, the PM said in his inaugural address.
There is no question that the burden of the fight against terrorism falls largely on the states machinery… States governments are the primary responders in most internal security situations…, he said.
Chidambaram said the nature of the threat to internal security was such that state boundaries cease to have much meaning. The target is the Indian state,and naturally,every constituent of the Indian state,and in his offensive,the adversary does not recognize state borders. His organization does not match states territorial jurisdictions. And he makes no distinction between the central government and the state governments, he said.
He stressed that central and state police forces have often coordinated to carry out joint operations with much success.
In 2011,18 terror modules were neutralized and 53 persons arrested. In the first three months of 2012,three modules were neutralized and eleven persons arrested. I wish to underline the fact that one half of the cases were cracked through the joint efforts of the central agencies and the state police concerned. This is the reality: at the operational level,there is no conflict between the central agencies and the state police forces. They work together,consult each other,share intelligence and,when necessary,mount joint operations to apprehend the suspects, the minister said.