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Cabinet meets today to discuss Maoist violence

By Onkar Singh
Last updated on: May 18, 2010 02:21 IST
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Prime Minister Dr Manmohan Singh is expected to convene a crucial Cabinet meeting on Tuesday to discuss the "limited mandate" given to the home ministry to deal with the Naxal violence.

The meeting is being convened on the instance of Home Minister P Chidambaram, who stressed upon Dr Singh to reconsider the strategy after the latest violence which killed as many as 50 lives.

Replying to questions on the need for air-support to tackle the Naxal menace and the Cabinet Committee on Security's refusal to endorse the use of the same, Chidambaram said, "I can implement the mandate that is given to me. Now I
believe that the collective wisdom is better than an individual statement."

Specifically asked whether he wanted air-support for the operations, the minister told a television channel, "The security forces, the chief ministers want air-support."

He cited the example of Chhattisgarh, which wants 70 companies, while the mandate is only 24 companies."

The home minister said the chief ministers of  West Bengal, Andhra Pradesh, Maharashtra, Chhattisgarh and Orissa all ask for air-support.

Chidambaram said he "tried" to convince his government on the issue. Replying to a question about the criticism for
being able to develop consensus on his approach, he said, "No chief minister has found fault with my approach so far. I
argued before the CCS and I got a limited mandate."

While condemning the increased violence, Chidambaram has aksed the civil society to raise their voice against senseless killing.

"I want to ask those writers who have been writing in favour of Maoists to rise and speak against senseless killing of ordinary people," he said.

Meanwhile, Communist Party of India (Marxist) general secretary Prakash Karat also condemned the senseless killing and asked the affected state governments and the Centre to evolve a strategy to deal with the Maoist violence.

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Onkar Singh in New Delhi
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