Centre to allay states' concerns on NCTC: Cong

Amid escalating row over the Centre's proposal for NCTC, Congress today struck a concilliatory note saying the government will definitely try to address concerns raised by UPA ally Mamata Banerjee and Chief Ministers of non-UPA states on the issue.

"If so many Chief Ministers have expressed their concerns, the central government will talk to them, will certainly try to resolve their concerns and allay their apprehensions," party spokesperson Manish Tewari said.

The assertion by the party, an apparently softening from yesterday's aggresive posturing, comes as anti-NCTC clamour has become louder with more non-Congress Chief Ministers joining Banerjee on the issue.

Tewari also downplayed questions on whether it was an embarrasment for the party that an UPA ally is attacking the government in this manner.

"Central government and state governments can have different perceptions. Even the Chief Minister of an UPA ally can have a different view.

"If a Chief Minister of any state even from UPA writes a letter to the Prime Minister or expresses his or her views on any issue under the impression that the measure relates to interests of a state, it is not wrong and this should not be given a political colour," Tewari said.

He was responding to questions on whether Banerjee's opposition to the Centre on a number of issues was an indication of political realignments.

The party's response came close on the heels of Home Minister P Chidambaram reaching out to the states on the issue saying security of the country is a shared responsibility and without coordination among the states the war against terror cannot be won. The protest was initiated by Odisha Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik who wrote to his counterparts in West Bengal (Mamata Banerjee), Bihar (Nitish Kumar) and Tamil Nadu (J Jayalalitha) and to TDP chief and former Andhra Pradesh Chief Minister N Chandrababu Naidu.

First to respond was Banerjee who wrote a letter to Prime Minister Manmohan Singh urging him to "review and withdraw" the decision.

Responding to Banerjee's criticism of the measure, Congress spokesperson Renuka Chowdhary had yesterday sought to turn the table on Trinamool Congress and others on NCTC issue pointing out that some of them were part of NDA which had passed the controversial POTA in 2002.

However, the course correction in the party today appeared after a realization that allowing the anti-NCTC move to acquire wider political contours will not be beneficial for the party.

A senior party leader, speaking on condition of anonymity, accepted the budget session is beginning next month and allowing consoldiation of non-Congress parties with a recalcitrant ally is not an ideal situation.

Tewari said "there is no contradiction or inner conflict" in the alliance owing to Banerjee's postion on NCTC.

"If there are certain differences, a way forward always comes out through talks and coordination. A solution will definitely be found. The communication between the Centre and the states and UPA and its allies goes on regularly," he said.

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