Internal Security meet
The absence of Bengal chief minister Mamata Banerjee may take some zing away from Monday’s meeting convened by the Centre on internal security, but the presence of heavyweight CMs like J Jayalalitha, Nitish Kumar and Naveen Patnaik might keep the focus on federal issues. With the CMs likely to raise the need for the Centre to take the states on board, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh is expected to convey his desire to respect the federal framework and seek cooperation of states on a host of security issues. In the run-up to the meeting convened by home minister P Chidambaram, several CMs have indicated that they intend to highlight the federal aspects of combating crime, insurgency and terrorism with Gujarat CM Narendra Modi writing to the PM opposing the BSF being given powers of arrest and seizure. While official sources said some paramilitary outfits already had the powers that were now being given to BSF, the government is expected to justify the move by pointing to a declining trend in violence with Naxal-related casualties down to around 600 in 2011-12 from a little more than 1,000 in 2010-11. Mamata Banerjee will be represented by finance minister Amit Mitra and according to reports, no reason has been assigned for the Bengal CM’s decision to not attend the meet.While her absence will draw comment, it is understood that she will attend the discussion convened by the PM specifically on the contentious National Counter-Terrorism Centre on May 5. The discussions on Monday, to be attended by some heavyweight CMs, can well see the informal linkage of non-Congress parties. The NCTC initiative has been blocked by a cohort of states like Odisha, Tamil Nadu, Bengal, Gujarat, Madhya Pradesh, Karnataka and Chhattisgarh objecting to the proposal to provide the new outfit, under the Intelligence Bureau, powers of seizure and arrest anywhere in India.