Shinde at Dilsukhnagar on Friday. (PTI)
New Delhi, Feb. 22: Union home minister Sushil Kumar Shinde took brickbats during the debate on the Hyderabad blasts in Parliament but by the end of the day had turned the tables on the Opposition with the National Counter Terrorism Centre.
Under attack for his statement that was criticised as lacking “concrete steps” to fight terrorism, Shinde got back at the BJP saying the Centre was ready to go ahead with the NCTC but the state governments were unwilling.
“The state governments say, ‘don’t take our rights’. We are ready to keep out Intelligence (Bureau) from the NCTC, but we have to talk,” Shinde said in his reply to the debate in the Rajya Sabha.
NDA chief ministers Narendra Modi and Nitish Kumar have opposed the NCTC.
When Shinde read out his statement on the blasts in the Rajya Sabha around 3 this afternoon, shortly after he had spoken in the Lok Sabha, the BJP’s Venkaiah Naidu led the uproar against him. The minister should have first taken Parliament into confidence this morning, he said.
Shinde explained that he was in Hyderabad at 4am, having spent a sleepless night, to which Naidu retorted: “It is your duty.”
In the Lok Sabha, leader of the Opposition Sushma Swaraj led MPs in slamming the government’s failure to prevent a terrorist attack in spite of prior information.
BSP chief Mayawati called for strengthening intelligence networks while Jharkhand Mukti Morcha’s Sanjiv Kumar asked how the US and the UK had succeeded in preventing terror strikes.
Calling the home minister’s statement routine, the members demanded a full-fledged discussion. When this was denied, the Samajwadi Party, Telugu Desam Party and the Left Front members trooped into the well of the House, forcing an adjournment.
JD(U) leader Sharad Yadav raised the government’s handling of the Afzal Guru hanging, hinting that could be the reason behind the Hyderabad attack. “Why didn’t you inform his family?” he said.
However, the attack on Shinde could not be as virulent as that on Shivraj Patil after 26/11. For one, Shinde did not repeat Patil’s mistake of changing into fresh clothes between two public appearances at the time of the attack. The home minister was wearing the same pair of clothes, even a little crumpled, at Dilsukhnagar this morning and in Parliament this afternoon.
More important, the Opposition could not prescribe any action, such as the formation of a super agency like the NCTC, because of its own contradictions.
Leader of the Opposition Arun Jaitley argued that the Centre could not escape responsibility for the nation’s security and that gathering cross-border intelligence was its job. But the BJP leader had to concede that law and order was the states’ responsibility and the only way out was better co-ordination between the states and the Centre.
Jaitley, who blamed Pakistan for the attacks, did not suggest changing India’s security architecture as that would have meant opening the debate on the proposed NCTC or the existing NIA.
Shinde cited how the NIA was set up in 2008 and the revival of the Multi-Agency Centre, the coordination centre for intelligence agencies that works round the clock.
“The NIA will investigate the case in conjunction with Andhra Pradesh police,” the home minister said. The NIA has been made the primary agency on all terrorism cases and, in the past year, has taken over from the CBI as the nodal agency to co-ordinate with foreign agencies on all cases related to terrorism.