The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Delhi offer to join hunt

New Delhi, Dec. 9: Parliamentary affairs minister Pramod Mahajan today told the Lok Sabha that the Centre would open a joint front with the Karnataka and Tamil Nadu governments to bring Veerappan to book, scotching attempts by BJP members to extract political mileage out of the killing of Janata Dal (United) leader H. Nagappa.

“On behalf of the Central government, we are assuring that we will provide all possible help to the state governments of Karnataka and Tamil Nadu, whether it is from the army, the police or National Security Guards,” said Mahajan. “Let Nagappa be Veerappan’s last victim. After this, he should be the victim.”

“Several state governments have come and gone. But Veerappan has persisted with remarkable tenacity. The terrorism unleashed by him poses a challenge to all of us,” the Union minister said, underlining the seriousness of the threat from the brigand.

His statement, in stark contrast to the volley of accusations let loose by BJP members against the Congress, drew a word of praise from CPM MP Somnath Chatterjee. “We appreciate the statement of the government. This is the kind of response we expect at this hour,” said Chatterjee.

Earlier, Mahajan’s colleagues in the BJP had, however, struck out on their own, hitting the Congress dispensation in Karnataka hard and squarely blaming it for Veerappan’s death. “The chief minister should resign,” said senior BJP member V.K. Malhotra. “The Karnataka government was too busy bothering about the Gujarat elections instead of taking steps to rescue Nagappa. You are squarely responsible for Nagappa’s killing,” he alleged.

Malhotra’s tirade came after former Prime Minister H.D. Deve Gowda opened the discussion on yesterday’s incident with an appeal to the members that they should not “politicise” the issue.

“I do not want to get into the blame game. The situation in Karnataka is tense after what happened, and the Centre should immediately act,” said Gowda.

Lok Sabha members from Tamil Nadu and Karnataka were subdued and refrained from trading charges against each other.

However, the BJP was in an aggressive mood. Malhotra minced no words in putting the Congress and its Karnataka chief minister S.M. Krishna in the dock.

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