Chidambaram bombards BJPs national security plank

Written by Political Bureau | New Delhi | Updated: Apr 3 2009, 05:55am hrs
The Bharatiya Janata Partys national security plank came under sharp criticism from the Congress with Union home minister P Chidambaram on Thursday challenging that any kind of commitment to fight terror could not be expected from a party which sought to divide the country along religious lines.

Chidambarams assault on the BJP came a day after he called on leader of Opposition and NDAs prime ministerial candidate LK Advani to discuss issues relating to his personal security. You cannot fight terrorism if you dont fight communalism, Chidambaram told reporters this evening. BJPs agenda is divisive. When you divide a country, you cannot be fair. Only a united country can fight terror, he added. The senior minister contended that the BJP, because of its religious bias, was bound to be soft or harsh on people, depending on their religous creed.

The senior minister, who took charge of the home ministry two months ago in the backdrop of the Mumbai attacks, had earlier this week written to more than two dozen top political leaders of the country asking them to take adequate precautions during campaigning in the light of renewed intelligence reports that terror groups may possibly target them while electioneering.

Assuring the country of a peaceful election, Chidambaram said adequate security arrangements have been made to ensure that the poll process went off smoothly. There is no need for any alarm. We have taken all measures and placed enough security forces in all states. The security situation is much better, he said. Noting that there is a heightened level of security alertness with elections around the corner, the home minister said, in the last two weeks our security forces have neutralised intrusions and every peace of intelligence is being acted upon.

On the issue of security threat to Varun Gandhi, Chidambaram said it was based on interrogation of a person who was arrested in Mangalore. It is being exaggerated. However, he said that he had received a letter from Varun seeking security, which would be provided based on the assessment by the agencies. Identifying real issues in the polls, he said these were security, growth, communal harmony and peace but the issues are taking a backseat in the run up to the polls.