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Sweet And Sour So Far For PC

From the Finance portfolio to the Home Ministry, it has been quite a journey for P Chidambaram. The man from Tamil Nadu did not bag the Home portfolio in the best of time, rather he got the job by default, because the then Home Minister Shivraj Patil appeared to be more concerned about his sartorial taste than tackling the situation when a bunch of terrorists attacked the hot spots of Mumbai-Hotel Taj, Hotel Oberoi and the Chatrapati Shivaji Terminus among others on September 26, 2008. The attack exposed the lack of readiness on the part of India, despite the earlier attacks at Parliament on December 13, 2001, the Akshardam Temple on September 25, 2002, and the series of bomb blasts on trains and road sides in some cities, particularly Mumbai.

Even as the commercial capital of the country slowly came to terms with the horror of the evening of September 26, 2008, the UPA think tank was in a huddle and Shivraj Patil was shown the door and in stepped our man from Tamil Nadu. Many interpreted this as something of a damage control exercise, but in no time Mr.  P Chidambaram quickly went about picking up the finer nuances of running the Home portfolio (this is the first time that he is in charge as the Union Home Minister, Cabinet rank) and the message that he has conveyed is that he means business, never mind the heavy setbacks and casualties the CRPF including their elite force, the Cobra Task Force have had to suffer at the hands of the Maoists.

With Prime Minister Manmohan Singh going on record and dubbing the Maoists as enemy number one of the country, Chidambaram will surely be hard pressed to show some results in the Maoists dominated areas of Central India. How the near future unfolds is anybody’s guess, but as things stand today, the battle is far from over and there will be many more coffins making their last journey back home. We are not being pessimistic or needlessly pushing the alarm bell, but the chain of events more than suggest that the Maoists issue will linger for long, until and unless the tribals of the region are given their basic rights to exist as human beings.

From the Maoists, Chidambaram has to also deal with the likes of Th Muivah and Isak Chisi Swu of the NSCN (IM), which have been in talks with the Government of India for over a decade now, with the cease fire pact inked on August 1, 1997. In dealing with the IM group of the NSCN as well as Messrs Muivah and Swu, the Home Minister has to also invariably deal with the tricky and sensitive question of the territorial integrity of Manipur, Assam and Arunachal Pradesh. Not an envious position, we should say, but politicians are in politics after fully knowing what is the menu as well as what will or may be served on their plates. The positive signal received from the top leadership of ULFA to start a peace process is not only a welcome development for Delhi, but it also means treading sensitive grounds and this is where Mr. Chidambaram will have to undergo the test by fire. Anyway, let’s not forget that there is still Paresh Baruah to deal with and we all know what difference one man can make in an issue as sensitive as ending a decades old armed movement and violence.

The examples we have just quoted are some of the points that immediately come to mind, when we talk of the responsibility of the Union Home Minister, but there are also other subtle, but very complex issues lying right in front of Delhi. Apart from terror strikes from across the border, the Home Minister also has to deal with the growing fundamentalism of both the Muslims and the Hindus and we do not need to go into the details of what this term basically means.

Nearly three years into his job and Chidambaram has earned the tag of being a tough task master, a shrewd man and also an arrogant personality, as described by no one but one of his party colleagues, former Chief Minister of Rajasthan, Digvijay Singh. All the tags that come along with the Home Minister will surely have a reason behind it, and it will be interesting as well as challenging to watch how he goes about dealing with the political, social and economic aspects of Manipur. All these three are intrinsically linked and none can be studied in isolation of the others and hence the clubbing together of the political, social and economy.

Delhi and Mr. Chidambaram may like to believe otherwise, but the truth stands that in managing to arrest RK Meghen, Chairman of the UNLF from Bangladesh on September 29, last year, Delhi did not hit the bull’s eye or managed a perfect ten, but messed it up to a large extent, with their hide and seek game. The days of the spies and super spies, conspiracy, secret agents etc are over and most significantly, Delhi failed to realize that RAW is not the CIA, Mossad or the dismantled KGB. The dramatic shifting of the story from Bangladesh to Bihar, the conspiracy of silence for over three months, has all backfired. Arresting RK Meghen is certainly akin to netting one of the biggest fish from Manipur but problems can arise if the netted fish is not dealt with care and sensitivity. This has been proved beyond doubt.

Manipur will perhaps represent one of the thorniest issues facing Delhi, maybe even trickier than Kashmir in the years to come and it will take more than arresting an RK Meghen to tackle the situation. Delhi-wallas need to think out of the box and come to terms with the fact that any political talk should be that and nothing more or less. In other words, this means there should be no pre-conditions, but the important point is whether Delhi will dare to step out from the legal and protective ring of the Constitution of India or not or whether the armed groups will see the practical point of holding the talk under the Constitution. Lying to the public and keeping the status of talk a highly guarded secret is nothing but betraying the people.

(Courtesy: The Sangai Express)

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