Polling will be peaceful; Chidambaram takes on BJP (Second Lead)

April 2nd, 2009 - 8:12 pm ICT by IANS  

P. Chidambaram New Delhi, April 2 (IANS) Cautioning against panic or alarm amid reports of terrorist threats to politicians in the run-up to and during the general elections, Home Minister P. Chidambaram said Thursday the government was taking all measures to ensure peaceful polls, even as he accused the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) of promoting a divisive agenda.
“There is no need for any panic. There is no need for any alarm. Our levels of preparedness have gone up substantially,” Chidambaram told reporters at the Congress headquarters here, unexpectedly donning the role of party spokesperson.

“We have deployed enough security forces in the run-up to the elections. We have taken all measures that are required to ensure polling takes place peacefully,” he maintained.

The home minister also lashed out at the BJP in anticipation of the release of its election manifesto Friday.

“The BJP’s agenda is a divisive agenda. The BJP divides people on communal lines. When you divide the country you cannot fight terror,” he contended.

“A country divided on religious and caste lines can’t fight terrorism. We need to vanquish the communal agenda if you want to vanquish terror,” he said, claiming that only the Congress could fight terrorism without dividing the country.

“Our enemy remains the BJP. Our enemy remains the communal agenda of the BJP.”

Chidambaram said it was “shameful” that the party had claimed the controversial CD containing the hate speeches of BJP candidate Varun Gandhi was doctored when no investigation had been carried out.

“How can they (BJP) say it is doctored without a forensic investigation?”

Just last week, Chidambaram had urged 40 VVIPs, including leaders of political parties and chief ministers, to take all precautions while campaigning and specifically detailed a list of dos and don’ts while venturing out during electioneering.

Leaders on the radar of various terror groups include the BJP’s L.K. Advani, AIADMK chief J. Jayalalitha, Telugu Desam Party (TDP) chief N. Chandrababu Naidu, central ministers Pranab Mukherjee and A.K. Antony and the chief ministers of Uttar Pradesh, Gujarat and West Bengal.

When specifically asked about the security threats to Congress president Sonia Gandhi and her son Rahul, the home minister said: “I cannot discuss the individual threat to individuals. All arrangements have been made to protect both.”

Chidambaram linked the terrorist threat in India to the deteriorating security situation in South Asia, especially in Pakistan and Afghanistan and to a lesser extent, in Bangladesh and Sri Lanka.

“We have be on our guard,” he said, urging the media to separate the wheat from the chaff and focus on real issues like coastal security, communal harmony and peace.

Chidambaram said that “growth” and “inclusive growth” were the foremost issues before the country.

Listing the achievements of UPA government, Chidambaram said : “The United Progressive Alliance government has delivered unprecedented growth for four years. We are hopeful of overcoming the current financial downturn and the year will end with a growth rate of 7 percent.”

Earlier in the day, Chidambaram called on Advani at his residence, in deference to his “age and seniority”, to brief him on intelligence alerts about political leaders being targeted by terrorist groups during campaigning.

“It was basically a briefing on the safety measures that needed to be taken while campaigning,” Advani’s personal secretary Deepak Chopra told IANS.

The advisory to some of those on the hit list instructs them to keep the police in the loop about their campaign routes, not to accept garlands while campaigning, not to mingle closely with surging crowds and keep security agencies aware of a change in route during election roadshows.

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