India’s political spectrum unite in combating terrorism (Lead)December 1st, 2008 - 2:24 am ICT by IANS
New Delhi, Dec 1 (IANS) All political parties in India Sunday night agreed to unite in fighting terrorism and unanimously agreed on a slew of measures, including setting up a Federal Investigating Agency, to prevent attacks such as Mumbai faced last week.“The resolutions passed in the all-party meeting include setting up of a Federal Investigating Agency and strengthening of security along the coastline,” External Affairs Minister Pranab Mukherjee told reporters after the five-hour meeting, convened by Prime Minister Manmohan Singh.
“Other resolutions related to strengthening the intelligence agencies and working in coordination with security (forces) of the states and expansion of the National Security Guard (NSG),” Mukherjee said.
A detailed draft of the legal measures to combat terrorism will be prepared in 15 days, he said.
At the meeting, Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) leader Jaswant Singh demanded that India should condemn the Mumbai terrorist attack and name Pakistan, according to some of those who attended the meeting but were not willing to be named.
However, all other parties opposed the demand stating the country was not ready for escalation of tensions with the neighbouring country, they said.
The main opposition BJP then joined with the rest of the parties and the resolution against terrorism was unanimously passed.
It, however, asked for an anti-terror law stronger than the now-repealed Prevention of Terrorism Act (POTA).
The BJP, whose senior-most leader and prime ministerial candidate L.K. Advani did not attend the meet, also alleged that the ‘votebank politics” of the main ruling Congress party was blocking such stringent legislation.
While Samajwadi Party leader Mulayam Singh Yadav said enough measures were not being taken to fight terrorism, Rashtriya Lok Dal leader Ajit Singh said a tit-for-tat policy should be taken against those who promote terrorism, they added.
At the meeting, which some participants described as stormy, some of the Congress allies demanded that Maharashtra Chief Minister Vilasrao Deshmukh should be removed from the post.
The meeeting was held barely hours after Shivraj Patil, taking moral responsibility for failing to prevent the Mumbai terrorist attack, stepped down as home minister.
At least 183 people including 22 foreigners were killed in the brazen terrorist attack in Mumbai.