Post-Naxal attack, Chhattisgarh Congress in a bind

Chhattisgarh issue, along with Telangana and the Food Security Bill, will be on the agenda at the UPA coordination committee meeting, which is likely on Monday.

Published: 02nd June 2013 07:58 AM  |   Last Updated: 02nd June 2013 02:19 PM   |  A+A-

A Congress party functionary, calling in from Chhattisgarh, says dust has settled on the paths leading to Mahendra Karma’s fortress-like house in Dantewada.

The stream of party workers and other mourners have all left. Despite the Maoist threat to the family to evacuate and leave the area, his son has said they will stay put. And yet, it’s as if everything is in a limbo.

Chhattisgarh issue, along with Telangana and the Food Security Bill, will be on the agenda at the UPA coordination committee meeting, which is likely on Monday.

A military intervention in Bastar, as Union Home Minister Sushilkumar Shinde has demanded, and the logistics involved will presumably be discussed threadbare. Some 2,000 extra paramilitary troops have already been sent to Chhattisgarh to beef up the combing operations, said Union Minister of State for Home R P N Singh.

Despite that, only three days after the Darbha Ghat massacre, barely 50 km from the area Maoists were stopping and checking civilian vehicles, V Kishore Chandra Deo, Minister in-charge of Tribal Affairs, said.

There is Deo, virtually crying himself hoarse that there should be no knee-jerk reaction. His view is that the damage would then be not limited to Chhattisgarh, but would spread to contiguous tribal areas under the sway of Naxalism.

“It needs a concerted action plan. It cannot be reduced to a law and order situation, which will be just fighting the symptom,”  Deo said.

Beyond the macro-level dilemmas that party leaders in New Delhi are grappling with, there remains the question of how the state unit should approach its own return to normalcy.

A section feels the party can pick up the thread once a new PCC chief is named after the mourning period is over. Local leaders and those from New Delhi who have been in touch with the ground level know that the choice itself could be crucial.

Charandas Mahato, a senior leader of the party in the state, was the obvious choice initially, but the high command is apparently doubtful because he is seen to be part of a clique that’s close to the mining lobby.

After the Mahendra Karma experience, which has left the party perennially tainted (despite all its protestations), it does not want to experiment with anyone who could be linked to strongly partisan interest groups.

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