Cool Chidambaram ignores Mamata snub

Continuing her cold war against the Centre, Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee on Saturday chose to stay away from the inauguration of a regional hub of the National Security Guard (NSG) by Union Home Minister P Chidambaram.

Banerjee’s absence, the latest in a series of a calculated affronts to the UPA government, did not perturb Chidambaram, who countered the chief minister’s opposition to the National Counter Terrorism Centre (NCTC) pointing out that security of the country was a shared responsibility of the Centre and state governments.

In an obvious reference to the controversy over the creation of the powerful NCTC, which is opposed by the non-Congress-ruled states, Chidambaram after inaugurating the 19.75-acre hub said:  “Security of the country is shared by the Centre and state governments. The Constitution of India assigns law and order to the state government and also assigns the Centre to protect the country against external aggression or internal disturbance”. Inaugurating the hub at Badu, about 50 km from Kolkata, the home minister said: “The founding fathers of the Constitution were also wise and that is why they made national security and internal security a shared responsibility. I have a responsibility to work with the states to quell terror, any militancy or rebellion.”

The powerful anti-terror agency, which will integrate and analyse inputs on terror threats in India, derives powers from the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act (UAPA) that allows the central government agencies to make arrests or searches in terror-related cases.
Banerjee, who was supposed to attend the function, skipped the programme, sending Trinamool Congress general secretary and Minister of State for Shipping Mukul Roy and State Food Minister Jyotipriya Mullick instead. Her name which was printed on the invitation and engraved on the plaque had to be erased.

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