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Congress sings a different tune, seeks tougher anti-terror law

September 17, 2008 21:17 IST

With the Bharatiya Janata Party on the offensive on the issue of terrorism, the Congress on Wednesday took an U-turn on its stance on a stringent anti-terror law, saying the party is in favour of such a legislation but with sufficient safeguards to prevent its misuse.

"We need a strong law on terror," party spokesperson Jayanthi Natarajan told reporters in New Delhi [Images] ahead of a meeting of the Union Cabinet to discuss the issue of terrorism.

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Natarajan's statement caused a ripple at the All India Congress Committee briefing as the Congress and the United Progressive Alliance government has been contending so far that the existing laws were adequate to deal with terrorism.

The change in stance by the ruling party has come at a time when discussions are on in government circles about having a minister for internal security to have a firm grip of the situation to tackle terror.

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While no decision has been taken for setting up a separate department of internal security, several names were doing the rounds as possible internal security ministers. They included Union ministers Prithviraj Chavan and Jitin Prasad.

Natarajan faced a volley of questions on the change of stance of the party on terror law. She said that it was a dynamic and evolving situation and the nation needed to evolve its terror fighting mechanism.

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The latest turn of the Congress on the issue has come a couple of days after main opposition BJP declared that it would revive the Prevention Of Terrorism [Images] Act within 100 days after coming to power and also bring other tough laws in that period.

The saffron party has been consistently charging the Congress and its government of being soft on terror, a charge denied by the grand old party.

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With the UPA grappling with mounting criticism of its handling of the issue of terrorism, Congress president Sonia Gandhi [Images] on Wednesday had a meeting with Prime Minister Manmohan Singh [Images] to strategise the way ahead.

Gandhi met Singh after the Prime Minister indicated that the government was considering a legislation to further strengthen the substantive anti-terrorism law in line with the global consensus on the fight against terror.

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The meeting of the UPA chairperson with the PM assumed significance in the backdrop of the serial blasts in Delhi and demands for the removal of Home Minister Shivraj Patil [Images].

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