Chhattisgarh attack: What makes Rahul Gandhi angry
The Congress vice-president's outbursts at Raipur meeting draws displeasure.
Rahul Gandhi’s agitated one-liner at the high-level security review meeting in Raipur two days ago took all participants by surprise. The Congress vice-president was present at the meeting held at Raj Bhavan to take stock of the Maoist attack in Darbha Ghati that killed 14 Congressmen, seven security personnel and three civilians. It was chaired by Prime Minister Manmohan Singh.
Shortly after the meeting started the young Congress leader shot off "who will take the responsibility?" It surprised the participants, particularly those from the Chattisgarh state government, which included Chief Minister Raman Singh, Chief Secretary Sunil Kumar and top police officials.
As the chief secretary proceeded with his presentation on the terrain, security situation and narration of the incident, Rahul interrupted again asking the same question. No one in the meeting was quite sure as to who he was pointing fingers at and who should respond to his agitated query that suggested that the state government was responsible.
Raman Singh remained patient. After a pause and uneasy silence, the chief secretary continued. Rahul interrupted again with the same query, sources told Firstpost, adding that the chief secretary then took a moralist position, which silenced Rahul Gandhi. He said as head of the bureaucratic set up he was willing to take the blame for whatever lapses that may have occurred and if resignation could settle the issue, he was ready to resign.
Sonia Gandhi too joined her son in asking the state government officials about the failure to protect the Congress leaders and workers when they were engaged in political activities. That prompted Raman Singh to intervene and say that his party, too, has suffered losses in Maoist areas. He claimed that adequate protection was given to the Congress leaders and their guards were not lowered and the rivalry of political leaders or rival parties was limited to politics only. While Sonia’s angry outbursts was briefed to the media, Rahul’s interventions were not revealed.
Though neither the state officials nor the chief minister made Rahul’s presence in the security review meeting an issue, the officials are airing their displeasure in private. "He had no business to be present there. He may be the big boss of the ruling party but still does not hold an official position either at the centre or in the state," an official said.
He, however, added that considering the gravity of the situation, the state government did not make it an issue. Rahul and the Congress president were part of Prime Minister Manmohan Singh’s official entourage and guests at Raj Bhawan, and as such it was the prerogative of Governor Shekhar Dutt to select participants.
Now since the Union ministers Narayansami and Charan Das Mahant have gone on record blaming the Raman Singh government, it is likely that the BJP, which so far had been maintaining that it was a national problem, an attack on the state and as such it should be dealt in non-partisan manner, may respond to some of the charges.
Rahul’s agitation is understandable, for the most prominent state Congress leadership was wiped out in the gruesome incident but as the circumstances would have it, it came only two days after the Congress vice-president told his party men in Delhi that he wanted to be strong and tough as his grandmother Indira Gandhi. It's being discussed with some interest in some quarters.
The central Congress leaders, who had maintained restraint on day one, are now making shrill noises against the state government and the Union Home ministry officials are telling the media that the state government was duly warned that Maoist were moving to Darbha Ghati area and there could be a possible attack. It was to suggest that an inept state government did not act on the intelligence input.
Many recall how then Home Minister P Chidambaram’s tough stance against Maoists was snubbed in a written article by Congress powerful general secretary Digvijaya Singh. Later at various forums, Singh maintained that naxalites were misguided youths not terrorists. "The issue is simple, I have always followed the Congress line throughout. The Congress has always felt it is a socio-economic problem and it has to be dealt with in that order," he is quoted to have said. Chidambarm and the Home ministry were forced to abandon the tough posturing against the rebels and treat the problem more as a social issue than a law and order matter.
The present Home minister is taking no such risks of intra-party criticism. He has extended his official tour in USA and is now holidaying somewhere in New York.
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