New Delhi: Home minister P. Chidambaram said the government will be able to end the Maoist insurgency, which Prime Minister Manmohan Singh has described as the most potent internal security threat facing India, by 2012.
Negotiation stand: Home minister P. Chidambaram. Rajkumar / Mint
“In a period of two to three years, we will take control of these areas,” Chidambaram said at the closing session of the World Economic Forum’s three-day India Economic Summit on Tuesday.
Chidambaram said India’s economic growth, which is the fastest after China among major global economies, is itself leading to an element of conflict among the country’s citizens.
“We hope to bounce back at 8% next year and perhaps 9% the year after. That itself is creating problems, divisions within society. We face rising aspirations,” he said. “People are asking questions. ‘Where will I be rehabilitated? Will I get a job?’ There are ideologically-driven elements as well as simply bandits who exploit these divisions. I think there is a growing consensus that the state must assert its authority even as it is open to talks.”
The home minister said the government was prepared to negotiate with the insurgent groups.
“If the Maoists abjure violence, I have not said that if they lay down arms. I am too realistic to know that they will not do so. If they abjure violence, we will talk to them about all issues—land acquisition, development, industrialization,” he said.
Even as Chidambaram was addressing the India Economic Summit, news agency PTI reported that the Maoists were ready for a ceasefire with the government, but that they will not accept the Centre’s demand to give up violent methods.
“Abjuring violence is not on our agenda. We believe in armed struggle. The government can initiate a ceasefire unilaterally. We are also ready to declare a ceasefire,” top Maoist leader Kishenji told PTI over the phone, reacting to home secretary G.K. Pillai’s statement last Sunday that there was a possibility for dialogue with the Maoists if they gave up violence.
“We can fix some modalities after which we can declare a ceasefire. If the government is honest and really willing to speak with us, then we will cooperate,” Kishenji added.