Press Briefing Monday, 16th April 2012
Shri Manish Tewari addressed the media today.
Shri Manish Tewari said the Indian National Congress condemns the terrorists' attacks on Kabul and the three other eastern cities of Afghanistan. The attacks once again bring home the reality in a very broad perspective that the fight against terror has to be fought 24x7 and 365 days a year. It once again underscores the bitter truth that eternal vigil is the price which civilized societies have to pay for safety and security. These unfortunate terror strikes in Afghanistan and the jail break in Bannu in Pakistan form the back drop in which Chief Ministers from across the country met today in Delhi to review the internal security situation. It once again emphasize the fact that India lives in a difficult neighborhood and events that take place in and around the periphery of India have an impact on our country too. It is, therefore, incumbent that there should be co-ordination and co-peration between the centre and the states to provide a seamless response to the forces of terror. Over the past three decades the Indian National Congress has been in the forefront of the fight against extremism, fundamentalism and separatism in various parts of the country especially the North East, Jammu & Kashmir and Punjab. Scores of Congress activists and leaders have laid down their lives in this fight. Two former Prime Ministers of this country have sacrificed themselves on the altar of nationalism in the fight against terror. The Congress party, therefore, would like to appeal to all political parties that issues of national security should not become an instrument which divides us. In fact these challenges call for cohesive, collective and holistic response so that the challenges to our national security can be effectively surmounted, contained and neutralized.
On the question whether it is a cause of worry that non Congress Chief Ministers have teamed up together, Shri Tewari said if you are referring to the so-called fourth front which has been the subject of quite a few analysis over the past some months, May I very respectfully point out that this is an ever green mirage of Indian politics and if somebody wants to continue chasing that mirage, that is their problem and not ours.
On the question of the reaction of the Congress party over the hike in procurement of milk prices in Delhi, Shri Tewari said if I got my numbers correct today, the wholesale price index actually shows a marginal fall. The headline inflation has come down by a few points rather than going up. But having said that we have always been extremely sensitive on the question of prices and we do believe that it is incumbent upon the governments both at the centre and the state to see that the prices of essential food commodities especially food commodities continue to remain in check and they remain affordable to common man.
On another question of the reaction of the Congress party that an alleged CD has been making rounds with allegedly objectionable conversation and allegedly involving an AICC spokesperson, Shri Tewari said I have no knowledge about any such thing. It is not something which has come to my attention. So, therefore, obviously there cannot be a response to it.
To another question on the outcome of the recently concluded MCD elections, Tewari said this question had already been answered by me on Friday when I made it clear that municipal elections are fought on local municipal issues. In Maharashtra also, today the results of some local body elections have been declared. Some of them are satisfactory and some are not. There is a scope for performing better. So, therefore, we do hope that the MCD election results would be to our expectations. We are hopeful that the good work done by the Delhi government and also the efforts put in by the Delhi Pradesh Congress Committee would definitely bear fruits for the party.
On the question of Tamil Nadu CM Ms Jayalalitha charging the centre of with the step motherly treatment of the centre the non-congress ruled states have simply become municipalities and Narendra Modi alleging that there has been a trust deficit between the centre and the non congress ruled states, Shri Tewari said he has at the outset today has made it clear that matters of internal security should not be a made a subject of allegation and counter allegations. If any State has a specific complaint against the centre, they should flag the same for the attention of the Union Home Minister and discuss the same. Some of the states have raised the issue of making amendments to the central security forces and if my memory goes correct, over the past years, para-military forces like ITBP and Sahastra Sena Bal have been given more powers and there has been no complaint of its misuse from any state. No political motive should be attributed if some states seek more powers to meet the challenges confronting the central security forces or the para-military forces. These are sensitive issues and we need to exercise restraint and sensitiveness.
On another question whether these Chief Ministers are behaving irresponsibly, Shri Tewari said I am not in the habit of making value judgments and I am not going to be judgmental on the conduct of anybody less alone the elected Chief Ministers of this country. All that I am trying to point out very respectfully is that if there are specific issues which require the attention of the central government, it is very well the prerogative of the state to flag them. But, however, to turn a national security issue or an issue connected with some aspect of national security into a brownie point scoring is a tendency which should be avoided given the fact that we have seen that terror, terrorists and terrorist organizations still continue to create mayhem in our neighborhood which has an inadvertent, at times advertent fall out on the security situation in India also.
On the question of Narendra Modi writing a letter to PM on the amendments in the BSF Act, Shri Tewari said as far as amendments in the BSF Act is concerned, it has already been replied by him. Shri Tewari said if my information is not wrong and I am not using a brownie point scoring affair but possibly there are 27% vacancies in the police forces of Gujarat as we speak of now but that does not mean if they have concerns, they should not flag them to the government. All that I am saying is that the security situation around India continues to be fragile and so, therefore, it is incumbent that both the state and the centre government act in cohesion, act in co-ordination and act with promptitude because any chinks in our armour only benefit only those who seek to undermine the security of India.
On the question of the stand of the Congress party over the J&K CM demanding once again the withdrawal of security forces from certain parts of J&K, Shri Tewari said I think the stand of the Congress party on this particular issue has been articulated ad-nausea over the past couple of months. We believe that it is a sensitive issue which involves a number of stakeholders and there is a need to build a consensus among all stakeholders so that the road map can be un-built.