The BJP has accused the UPA of ‘playing politics’ with the Hyderabad blasts and using it to push the controversial NCTC, which was summarily rejected by a number of Chief Ministers including Narendra Modi and J Jayalalithaa.
“The NCTC was a skewed bill. It was giving powers to Intelligence Bureau to go on arresting people. This is never done in democratic setup, it happens only in dictatorships. We warn the Congress not to play politics with the basic idea of security”, said BJP spokesman Prakash Javadekar.
Home Minister Sushil Kumar Shinde, in comments to the Rajya Sabha on Friday, said that the NCTC needed to be re-examined in order to protect the country from terror strikes. “We need to debate on these issues instead of dismissing them, the Minister said.
Following these comments, the government seems to be making some move towards reigniting the debate. Shinde said he has spoken with one its main opponents, Mamata Banerjee, who has now assured him of support.
“I have taken this issue of NCTC with Mamata ji, she is very cooperative on this issue and also on unlawful activities”, he told media.
Last year, the then Home Minister P Chidambaram attempted to initiate a debate on the need to establish a National Counter Terrorism Centre to enhance anti-terrorism cooperation and intelligence-sharing at a pan-Indian level. The structure of the NCTC he envisaged may have been intrusive for State governments, who were wary of the potential for political mischief. Yet, as argued by Firstpost editor Venky Vembu, by shooting down the proposal in its entirety on the grounds that States’ rights were being encroached upon and the federal structure of the Constitution had been violated, they spiked an initiative that did have intrinsic merits.
Firstpost had argued at that time that for Chief Ministers to argue that the NCTC was unwelcome “in any form” was problematic, and would not serve the cause of meaningful counter-terrorism effort. It is the folly of that political stance that has given room for terrorist attacks of the sort we saw at Dilksukh Nagar on Thursday.
Of course, even in the absence of an institutional mechanism such as the NC TC, there is nothing that ought to have inhibited security and intelligence officials by processing the matrix of information that they had – and passed on credible intelligence alerts about specific security threats to the States.