TMC supported the idea in 2009

West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee may have now joined the chorus against the National Counter Terrorism Centre (NCTC), but her party  Trinamool Congress (TMC)  had in 2009 supported the United Progressive Alliance government’s internal security agenda, which included the proposal to set up a nodal central agency to combat terror.

The TMC–now a constituent of the ruling UPA – had in its manifesto for the 2009 Lok Sabha polls also proposed “a Comprehensive National Internal Security Arrangement”.

The proponents of the NCTC in the Congress-led government say that the idea of setting up a central nodal agency to fight terror in fact stemmed from a concept that was not in contrast to what the TMC had proposed in its manifesto ahead of the last parliamentary polls.

Banerjee’s party had forged an alliance with the Congress just ahead of the Lok Sabha elections in 2009 and with 19 MPs, had turned out to be the second largest constituent of the UPA-II after the Congress, which had won 206 seats.

Soon after the UPA-II government took office, President Pratibha Patil in her June 4, 2009 address to the joint session of Parliament had spelt out the agenda of the UPA-II Government, including in the area of internal security.

“The multi-agency centre will be strengthened to ensure effective intelligence sharing and processing and Subsidiary Multi-Agency Centres will be activated in all states. The National Investigation Agency has become operational and will be empowered to handle terror-related offences. Central and state police forces and intelligence agencies will be expanded and fully equipped with the best technology. A National Counter Terrorism Centre will be established to take pro-active anti-terrorism measures,” the President had said detailing the new government’s agenda.

Speaking on a motion of thanks on the President’s address on June 5, 2009, Sudip Bandopadhyay, the then TMC chief whip in the Lok Sabha, had said that his party “totally appreciate” the proposed measures announced by her in the areas including internal security.

Bandopadhyay is now a minister of state in the Union Ministry of Health and Family Welfare. A brainchild of the Home Minister P Chidambaram, the NCTC is a part of the Government’s counter-terrorism plans drawn up after the November 26, 2008 attacks in Mumbai. The Cabinet Committee on Security gave in-principle approval for setting up the NCTC on January 12 last.

Banerjee joined six other non-Congress chief ministers – including Narendra Modi and Shivraj Singh Chouhan of Bharatiya Janata Party-ruled governments in Gujarat and Madhya Pradesh – to oppose the NCTC, alleging that the structure of the institution as envisaged by the Centre would contradict the federal system of the country and infringe on the powers of the state governments.

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