Facing criticism from the non-Congress Chief Ministers on the proposed National Counter Terrorism Centre (NCTC), Union Home Minister P. Chidambaram on Saturday indicated that the annual meeting of the Chief Ministers on Internal Security, slated for April 16 ,might be extended by another day to hold discussions on the proposed counter-terror hub.
Some of the non-Congress Chief Ministers, including West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee and Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi have demanded that the April 16 meet of the CMs should solely be devoted to comprehensive discussion on the proposed NCTC. About a dozen Chief Ministers protested to the Prime Minister Manmohan Singh that NCTC, if set up, would infringe upon the rights and powers of the State governments and would violate the principles of federalism.
After presenting Home Ministry’s monthly report, Mr. Chidambaram told journalists that he would welcome a debate on the issue. ``I am glad that there will be a debate and I sincerely hope that it will be a debate based on the Constitution, laws in force and the very healthy convention that has been built over the last 65 years,’’ he said.
Asked about the letter written by Trinamool Congress chief and West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee to Prime Minister Manmohan Singh asking for devoting time for NCTC issue at the April 16 conference, he said that he would get a copy of the letter from the PMO and would send his reply.
"Please remember that the Chief Ministers conference on internal security is an annual affair. It was initially convened for February 15, 2012. The NCTC question came up in March. The February 15 meeting was postponed to April 16 because of the election and Parliament session,’’ he said.
"But I think it is important that all issues of the agenda are discussed. How we will accommodate the request of the Chief Ministers to devote a considerable amount of time to discuss the NCTC subject, it is a matter that will be resolved, I think, in the next couple of days,’’ he said.
Responding to a query on the possibility of the meeting being extended by a day, Mr. Chidambaram said that would depend on the convenience and availability of the Prime Minister and the Chief Ministers. ``Yes, that is an option,’’ he added.
On the NCTC notification, he said it was there on the agenda. ``The notification says that the order will come into force, a Director will be appointed, three Joint Directors will be appointed and a standing council will be constituted. It is when a Director is appointed, the three Joint Directors are appointed and a standing council is constituted, there is an NCTC. Otherwise it is still an idea which has to be operationalised,’’ he explained.