New Delhi: The Prime Minister has agreed to the demand of the chief ministers of several states for a separate meeting on National Counter Terrorism Centre (NCTC). There will be no decision on NCTC before the meeting of the chief ministers on May 5.
This came after pressure, not just from the Opposition but also allies like the Trinamool Congress urging the Centre to devote more time to discuss NCTC. Chief ministers of many states including West Bengal's Mamata Banerjee, Tamil Nadu's J Jayalalithaa, Odisha's Naveen Patnaik and Gujarat's Narendra Modi had written to the Prime Minister asking for a separate discussion on NCTC.
Mamata on Friday wrote to Prime Minister Manmohan Singh to focus only on the NCTC issue at the meeting of chief ministers in New Delhi next month.
"I have received a letter from the Union Home Ministry about the conference of chief ministers on April 16. But NCTC is just one of the 10 items on the agenda. In such a meeting, the focus of the NCTC will be lost," Mamata wrote sources close to the chief minister said in Kolkata.
"NCTC is a very sensitive issue. It should be the only matter of discussion at the meeting so that all states can express their views properly and adequate interaction can take place. Other issues can be discussed subsequently," she said.
On Thursday Mamata had warned the Centre not to interfere in matters which were the preserve of states. "It is not good to impose or bulldoze in a federal structure," she had said.
Mamata had also said that at her last meeting with the Prime Minister she had requested him not to go forward with the NCTC without consulting with and consensus among states.
Jayalalithaa also raked up the NCTC issue in a letter written to Prime Minister Manmohan Singh. Jayalalithaa, one of the vociferous opponents of the NCTC also demanded a separate meeting of all the chief ministers to discuss the counter-terrorism body.
She wrote to the Prime Minister asking for the NCTC to be put on hold till all the apprehensions raised by the state governments are addressed.
"It is indeed unfortunate that, without taking into consideration the views and sentiments of various State Chief Ministers, the constitution of the NCTC is sought to be steamrolled into existence. At this juncture, I request that the formation of the NCTC may first be ordered to be held in abeyance and a separate meeting of Chief Ministers may be convened only to discuss this matter. The views of various Chief Ministers will have to be given due consideration and a purposeful discussion on counter terrorism should be made possible. I request an early reply in this matter," she wrote in the letter.
Jaya is one of the nine chief minister mostly from the non-United Progressive Alliance ruled states who have objected to the anti-terror body claiming that it infringes on the rights of states.
Odisha Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik had also raised objections on NCTC calling some aspects of the NCTC proposal 'draconian'. Patnaik had also asked Manmohan Singh to convene a meeting of chief ministers to discuss NCTC.
Stating that the NCTC issue was raised by several chief ministers including himself, Patnaik said: "The matter relates to national security, terrorism and extremism which require deliberation with us at the highest level. All of us know about the effects of terrorism, the clear examples of which are attacks in Mumbai, Delhi and Bangalore."
Meanwhile, Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) leader Arun Jaitley met Jayalalithaa on Tuesday and discussed the contentious issue.