The Telegraph
Saturday , June 28 , 2014
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Rajnath four-point plan to fight Maoists

New Delhi, June 27: If P. Chidambaram had a two-pronged strategy to fight Maoists, Rajnath Singh has a four-step plan.

Home minister Rajnath has listed security, development, land for tribals and “perception management” as the four elements, adding the last two to Chidambaram’s strategy to contain the rebels when he held the home portfolio in the UPA government.

Rajnath, however, indicated the Narendra Modi government wasn’t in favour of talks. The stance suggests a more hard-nosed approach compared with that of the Manmohan Singh government, which favoured negotiations if the rebels halted violence. “We can’t initiate talks (with the Maoists),” Rajnath was quoted as saying at a meeting today of the rebel-hit states.

Instead, he called for co-ordinated offensives. “Let’s do it together and get them,” an official quoted Rajnath as saying at the meeting attended by the chief secretaries and police chiefs of the 10 affected states, including Bengal and the newly formed Telangana.

While security and development were hallmarks of Chidambaram’s plan, Rajnath stressed the importance of giving land pattas (deeds) to forest dwellers and “perception management”.

“Perception management” involves a publicity blitz and related steps to “wean young people away” from the Maoists, ministry sources said, adding more funds would be set aside for such activities.

Documentaries and jingles are being prepared in Gondi — the dialect in Chhattisgarh and neighbouring states where the rebel threat looms in large swathes — appealing to youths to join the government in development. The ads will be aired on Doordarshan and All India Radio.

Development will remain a priority too in the rebel zones where their threat has posed a challenge to infrastructure building. Officials said the Modi government could “micromanage” key projects.

Today’s conference marked the second straight day Rajnath addressed the problem. Yesterday, he had asked the CRPF — the Centre’s main combat arm against the Maoists — to step up operations and be “pro-active”.

Ministry sources suggested the states had been ranked on their effectiveness in fighting the rebels. Odisha and Maharashtra were the “best”, the sources said, adding the Centre was “happy” with the Mamata Banerjee government in Bengal in tackling the problem. Jharkhand and Bihar fared “poorly”. BJP-ruled Chhattisgarh, home to rebel hotbed Bastar, has “scope for improvement”, the sources added.