In a hard hitting interview with CNN-IBN on Tuesday, Minister for Rural Development Jairam Ramesh ruled out the possibility of a dialogue with Maoists as they don't believe in Indian democracy. "You can't have a dialogue with people who don't want to have a dialogue. Maoists are not here for tribal welfare," Ramesh said.
While speaking exclusively to CNN-IBN's Deputy Editor Sagarika Ghose, Ramesh added that there is a need for effective and combined strategy to tackle Maoist menace. "There has to be tough security and police action in the state. Secondly, you need to have a deeper political mobilisation by mainstream parties. You also need to redress the injustices," he said.
The interview, conducted in the wake of the brutal Maoist attack that took place last week, is a significant hardening of stance from previous statements made by the Minister.
In 2011, Ramesh who delivered the Sardar Patel Memorial Lecture on the topic 'From Tirupati to Pashupati: Some reflections on the Maoist Issue' said that he did not believe a strategy based on the primacy of para-military and police action would yield long-term results.
In the 2011 speech, Ramesh said, "Some weeks back in Kolkata the Union Home Minister reiterated that the Centre is ready for unconditional talks with Maoists and all that it is demanding that they stop violence without necessarily giving up their ideology, surrendering their arms or even disbanding their militias and armies. I cannot think of a fairer offer than this."
However post the Chhattisgarh attack on the Congress party, Ramesh who termed the incident a 'holocaust', said that there was no scope for dialogue with the Naxals. "They are no longer motivated by ideology. These are extortionists. They indulge in loot and they also indulge in wanton killing. They are recruiting 8-year-old and 10-year-old kids", he said.
Despite this though, the Minister said that a multi-pronged approach was still the need of the hour to attempt to solve this problem.
He reiterated the importance of tribal development, adding that there was still a tendency to look at tribal areas only as areas of mineral deposits, adding that there was a need to rectify the wrongs that were historically done to tribals in the past, lakhs of whom had been displaced.
His stance that the only way forward was for Maoists to join the political process was also unchanged. "Do a Kejriwal. I do not agree with him, but at least he is a part of the process", he said.
This was very much in keeping with his 2011 speech, where he said,
We are combating not just a destructive ideology but are also confronted with the wages of our own insensitivity and neglect, especially in so far as the central Indian tribal population is concerned. Simply put, we need to rise above partisan political considerations and set aside old Centre versus state arguments and work concertedly to restore people’s faith in the administration to be fair and just, to be prompt and caring, to be prepared to redress the injustices of the past, and to be both responsible and responsive in future. Only then will the tide of Naxalism be stemmed.
Updated Date: May 29, 2013 13:53 PM