New Delhi, Jun 11: Congress President Sonia Gandhi on Monday urged political parties to rise above partisan politics to tackle the threat of Maoists, whom she accused of making "hollow claim" of fighting for tribals.
She, at the same time, stressed that "a clear and unambiguous signal" must be sent out that "we believe that political engagement and developmental programmes are absolutely essential in Maoist affected areas.
"And while fulfilling their responsibilities, the security forces, the development agencies and the political workers must convince the people that the rights of tribal communities will be fully protected and the injustices of the past will be redressed," she said.
In her remarks at the all party-meeting on the Naxal issue, Gandhi said that "we must send a clear and unambiguous signal that we are united and will remain united in dealing with the Maoist threat using all legitimate means."
The meeting came in the backdrop of the barbaric May 25 attack on Congress leaders in Bastar.
Gandhi said that while her own party has been the victim in the "catastrophe" and "there have been security lapses, I believe that we must now rise above partisan politics".
Raman Singh heads the BJP government in Chhattisgarh, which has come under sharp criticism over lack of adequate security arrangements during the Congress Parivartan Yatra.
In the attack, at least three Congress leaders including its PCC chief Nand Kumar Patel and prominent leader Mahendra Karma were among the 27 persons killed.
While noting that the "primary responsibility to quell insurgency lies with the state governments", she said that the central government is duty bound to render every possible assistance to states.
"The primary responsibility to provide good governance and implement development programmes also lies with the state governments. Central government is duty bound to supplement the resources of the states and pay special attention to the scheduled areas," Gandhi said.
Gandhi stressed that the Centre and the states have to work together to deal with the Maoist threat and pitched for early enactment of the land acquisition bill.
"All political parties are obliged to make appropriate laws and ensure that they are implemented in both letter and spirit," she told the leaders of political parties present in the meeting.
Reminding that just as they had come together to pass the historic Forest Rights Act in 2006, the Congress President urged them to join hands to quickly enact the new legislation for land acquisition and for sharing the benefits of mining with local communities.
Describing the May 25 attack as "nothing short of carnage, deliberately planned and mercilessly executed", Gandhi said that the Maoists have chosen destructive path.
"Their declared goal is the over-throw of parliamentary democracy through a violent armed struggle. The Indian State cannot and will not accept Maoist doctrine. The Maoist must give up the path of violence. On these, there can be no compromise," she said.
Gandhi said that that this was not just an attack on Congress party and and its leaders and workers but an assault on the nation's democratic values, on the Republican constitution and the Parliamentary system.
"The Prime Minister has often described the threat from Maoists as the single most serious internal security challenge that our country faces. That is why the UPA-government has put in place a multi-dimensional strategy," she said.
The Maoists threat is most grave in areas which have large populations of tribal communities. "The Maoist claim to speak and fight for the tribal people, but this is a hollow claim," the Congress President said.
Gandhi also noted that there is, sadly still considerable deprivation amongst these communities.
"The answer to poverty and backwardness is development, social inclusion and economic empowerment. These can be achieved – and indeed have been achieved in many other regions – through democratic means and good governance.
".... Our democracy has proved to be hugely accommodative. There have been well-known instances of militant and insurgent groups giving up the path of violence and joining the political process," the Congress President said.
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