NC Sticks By UPA On NCTC

NC Sticks By UPA On NCTC

19 March 2012
Greater Kashmir
Anil Anand

New Delhi: The political storm being faced by the Congress-led UPA Government on the issue of setting up National Counter Terrorism Centre (NCTC) has blown over with the party managing the support of some of its opposing allies such as the National Conference (NC) while others tacitly backed the proposal by walking-out of Lok Sabha. Pertinently, both NC patron Dr Farooq Abdullah and his son Chief Minister Omar Abdullah had joined the chorus opposing the setting up of NCTC when issue was raised by the chief ministers of some non-Congress ruled states. The Union Minister for New and Renewable Energy Dr Farooq Abdullah, who was present in the House, voted against the Opposition sponsored amendments to NCTC along with his party MPs Dr Mehboob Beg and Hassan Khan. Immediately after the amendments were moved by Leader of the Opposition Sushma Swaraj (BJP), Basudeb Acharia (CPM) and B Mahatab (Biju Janata Dal), Dr Abdullah was seen signaling to his party colleagues to stay put in their seats. A major hurdle was removed when all the three amendments were defeated after the movers insisting on division (voting). Despite being on a clash course with the UPA Government on the issue of the Railway Budget, the Trinamool Congress made the task easier for the UPA government as the party did not take part in the voting and staged a walk-out. A similar strategy was adopted by the Bahujan Samajwadi Party (BSP). Earlier, replying to the debate on the Presidential address, which had mentioned the setting up of NCTC, Prime Minister Dr Manmohan Singh said “the anti-terror agency was crucial in effectively dealing with terrorism.” At the same time, he assured that consultations with the state governments would continue and the NCTC will not be made functional till the chief ministers meeting slated to be held on April 16 is convened. There may be 'differences' over the proposed NCTC but 'consensus' can be arrived at through consultations, he said. 'I have promised chief ministers to consult them on internal security. A meeting will be held with them April 16,' he added. Not impressed by Manmohan Singh's assurances, Swaraj, pressed for a vote on her amendment. At least 141 members voted for the amendment and 226 voted against it. One member abstained. Trinamool leader and West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee has been among the front runners along with her Odisha counterpart Naveen Patnaik opposing the NCTC on the grounds that powers given to the agency would infringe on the rights of state governments. But by walking out during the NCTC vote, Trinamool Congress achieved twin goals of not voting in favor of a policy they oppose and also saved some embarrassment for the government by not voting against it.