Angry Nitish to skip CMs' conference

Angry Nitish to skip CMs' conference

The move by Union Home Ministry to withdraw two battalions of Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF) from the naxal-hit Bihar while choosing to place large numbers of the force in West Bengal is said to have angered chief minister Nitish Kumar.

It is learnt that the “unilateral move” seen by Bihar as “double standards”, especially since the Centre allowed West Bengal to hold on to the paramilitary troops despite a lull in Maoist violence for a year, might prompt Nitish to skip the conference organised by Home Minister Sushilkumar Shinde on Monday. 

Earlier, five battalions of the paramilitary force were stationed in the state primarily to fight left wing terrorism, besides one battalion of the specialised COBRA squad. Maoist terrorism had been described by Prime Minister Manmohan Singh as the biggest threat to the country.

Despite the Centre’s offer to bolster state fire power by sending in three more battalions after recent attacks, a decision was taken to withdraw two battalions from the state around March 19 following the refusal by Bihars DGP Abhayanand to the Home Ministry’s strategy to flush out the Maoists.

Later, a verbal decision was taken to remove further two battalions from the state, a move which is said to have angered the Bihar government. The state has since been preparing to confront the terrorists with its own strength rather than reaching out to the Centre again, sources aware of the developments said.

Also the initial plan of offering additional battalions was put on hold. While there are differences among the stakeholders on a strategy to defeat the Maoists, state officials wonder why the Home Ministry should decide to remove two battalions without consulting the chief minister?

The ministry has not acted in similar fashion in West Bengal, where terrorist activities have been negligible for the past one year.

Nitish, currently in Delhi to take part in his party’s two-day conclave, might return to Patna skipping the meet on Monday, despite attempts by the Centre to reach out to him.

In fact, the conference may be far from having a full house as only half-a-dozen CMs from the Congress ruled states (Maharashtra, Andhra Pradesh, Himachal Pradesh and Assam) have given their confirmation to attend it. The meet has been convened to evolve a strategy on reforming public order and modernising police force, especially the move to recruit more women to the force.

Even Prime Minister Manmohan Singh is said to be busy with other engagements.
None of the non-Congress CMs including Mamata Banerjee (West Bengal), J Jayalalithaa (Tamil Nadu), Naveen Patnaik (Odisha), Akhilesh Yadav (Uttar Pradesh), Narendra Modi (Gujarat), Shivraj Singh Chouhan (Madhya Pradesh), Raman Singh (Chhattisgarh) have agreed to attend the meeting so far.

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