New Delhi, March 13 (IANS) The proposed National Counter Terrorism Centre (NCTC) is an absolute necessity to fight terror and “does not violate the federal structure”, Home Minister P. Chidamabaram said Tuesday.
Chidambaram’s defence of NCTC comes even as United Progressive Alliance (UPA) constituent Trinamool Congress strongly opposed the mention of the anti-terrorism agency in President Pratibha Patil’s address to parliament.
He also denied reports that union Home Secretary R.K. Singh had asked senior bureaucrats and police officers from states not to behave as stenographers of their chief ministers.
“I am clear that NCTC is an absolute necessity to fight terrorism Those who oppose certain aspects of it also agree on the idea,” Chidambaram told the Lok Sabha.
He noted that the government was ready to debate NCTC in the light of opposition from many states.
“NCTC does not violate the federal structure,” he added.
Earlier in the day, the issue was taken up by Bharatiya Janata Party MP and Leader of the Opposition Sushma Swaraj as well as Trinamool Congress MP Kalyan Banerjee, who opposed the anti-terror hub.
Raising the issue in the house, Sushma Swaraj said there were media reports that quoted the home secretary as having asked state officials not to act as stenographers for their chief ministers.
She also noted that as many 10 states were against the NCTC, as it encroached upon the rights of the states.
Banerjee demanded that the anti-terrorism centre be dropped.
Later, Banerjee told NDTV news channel that the reference to the NCTC in President Pratibha Patil’s speech to parliament be deleted.
He said the NCTC was incorporated in the president’s address despite objections and requests from various states. “Therefore, we have to put an objection and we are seeking an amendment. These words should be deleted,” he said.
“We are very firm, our party is very firm. Our leader has thought over the matter. It has been discussed within the party,” he added.
Chidambaram also said a meeting of state chief secretaries and directors general of police was held Monday to discuss the NCTC issue, and a meeting of chief ministers that stood postponed due to the just concluded assembly elections will now be held on April 16.
He, however, said the media report on the home secretary as having asked the state officials not to act like stenographers was not true.
The decision to create the NCTC has met with opposition from several non-Congress chief ministers such as Orissa’s Biju Patnaik, Tamil Nadu’s J. Jayalalithaa, Gujarat’s Narendra Modi and Madhya Pradesh’s Shivraj Singh Chouhan.
These chief ministers were joined by Congress’ allies Trinamool Congress and National Conference in questioning the NCTC move over the issue of federalism.