Mamata Banerjee on Wednesday secured an assurance from the Prime Minister
to put on hold the National Counter Terrorism Centre (NCTC) till
consultation with states was over and consensus reached, clouding the
Centre’s plan to get the anti-terror body off the ground by March 1.
in the executive order infringe upon the rights of states. I asked the
Prime Minister to put the order on hold till the consultation process with
states was not over,” Mamata said after meeting the Prime Minister.
if the Prime Minister had assured her that the anti-terror body would be
put on hold, Mamata said: “Yes, the Prime Minister has assured me.”
PMO media release issued later did not specifically mention such an
assurance but with Mamata going public, the Centre is unlikely to push
ahead without consensus, especially with the budget session round the
corner. If the March 1 launch is deferred, it will be the fourth UPA
initiative to have run into the Mamata wall after the Teesta water-sharing
agreement, foreign direct investment in retail and the Lokpal bill.
Prime Minister yesterday had asked home minister P. Chidambaram to consult
all chief ministers and address their concerns before launching the
anti-terror body. Several states, including the Opposition-ruled Bihar,
Odisha, Gujarat, Madhya Pradesh, Tamil Nadu and Tripura, have joined
Mamata to oppose the anti-terror body with sweeping arrest and seizure
powers. The states have said the provisions go against the federal
Mamata referred to the Prime Minister’s letter to
the states, which mentioned how a Group of Ministers (GoM) followed by a
task force had recommended the NCTC in 2001. She questioned the need to
implement it after 11 years. “What was the need to implement something
recommended in 2001... after 11 years? I told the PM,” Mamata said,
pointing out how the anti-terror body went against the federal spirit.
chief minister said that in the name of NCTC, anybody could be arrested,
interrogated and police force requisitioned from any station. It
contradicts the federal structure, she added. Mamata said the relation
between the Centre and the state was that of a parent and child and,
therefore, Delhi should take care of its children. “We (states) are not
in favour of terrorists. We are against the provisions in the NCTC that
are against the federal structure,”she said.
15-minute meeting with the Prime Minister, Mamata raised Bengal-specific
issues relating to the huge loss of water to Bangladesh from Farakka and
delay by the Centre in securing the President’s assent over the
Gorkhaland Tripartite Agreement (GTA).
Mamata vehemently denied
that her meeting with the Prime Minister had anything to do with iterating
the demand for financial assistance for Bengal. “Apart from these three
issues, we did not discuss anything,” said Mamata who later called on
finance minister Pranab Mukherjee.
“Over the GTA, the Prime
Minister assured that the paperwork would be completed in a day or two and
sent to the President to secure her assent,” she said, adding how the
delay by the Centre would affect the efforts of the state government to
settle the hill issue.
The PMO release said: “The Prime
Minister informed the chief minister that the ministry of home affairs is
expeditiously processing the bill in the light of the issues raised by
various ministries and the comments of the state governments. The Prime
Minister assured the chief minister that the ministry of home affairs will
complete the processing of the bill soon.”
Stress on Farakka
was most emphatic with the Prime Minister on Farakka. She demanded a
high-level inquiry into the leak of water to Bangladesh because two lock
gates were lying broken for several months. She also sought compensation
for Bengal for the loss of water and power.
Mamata termed the
leak “man-made”. “It is a serious issue. Instead of 33 per cent as
per the agreement, 88 per cent water has gone to Bangladesh. There is no
water in the Haldi and Bhagirathi rivers,” an angry chief minister said.
Mamata said the Prime Minister expressed concern over the issue and
assured her that an inquiry would be held. “But who will compensate for
the huge loss Bengal has suffered?” she asked.
refrained from stating whether she insisted that the Centre should pay the
compensation. The PMO release said the Prime Minister “shared the chief
minister’s concern and assured her that the ministry of water resources
is working on plugging the leaks in Gate No. 16 and Gate No. 13” by
March this year.