Maoist attack: Congress 'sad and angry' but shows restraint

New Delhi, May 27 (IANS) The Congress is both "sad and angry" over the killing of party workers by the Maoists in Chhattisgarh, but will not decide its future course of action in haste, said party sources Monday.

The party would like to wait for Chhattisgarh Governor Shekhar Dutt's report to the centre on the Saturday incident in which 30 people, including state unit chief Nand Kumar Patel and Salwa Judum founder Mahendra Karma, were killed in Sukma district.

Congress general secretary Janardan Dwivedi summed up the mood in the party. "We are both sad and angry but we have to perform our duty," he said at an event here to pay homage to those killed in the violence.

Hardliners in the Congress want the centre to invoke Article 356 of constitution to dismiss the state government, citing the alleged security lapse behind the attack on Congress leaders.

"Law and order in Chhattisgarh has deteriorated...the home minister (Sushilkumar Shinde) has to act," said a senior All India Congress Committee functionary.

There have been security lapses in the Maoist attack in Chhattisgarh and the National Investigative Agency (NIA) will investigate the incident, Minister of State for Home R.P.N. Singh said.

"There have been security lapses and the NIA will investigate the case. Punishment has to be meted out to whoever is responsible, at the central (government) or state level. The buck has to stop somewhere," Singh told reporters here.

But a majority of leaders in the party were unlikely to support the option of dismissing the state government, said the sources.

Instead, the party would prefer to highlight the "obvious" security lapse behind the attack on the Congress leaders, to expose the ruling BJP government, said the sources.

"There was no proper security arrangement for the party rally...it is very obvious," said a Congress Working Committee member.

Minister of State in the Prime Minister's Office V. Narayanasamy blamed the Raman Singh government in Chhattisgarh for the incident.

"I got to know from various sources that the security which is to be provided even to a Z-plus category person like Mahendra Karma was not done," he said.

"Even the PCC president was not provided adequate security. When the honourable Chief Minister Raman Singh was going on his election tour or even for the purpose of campaign, more than 4,000 policemen were accompanying him," Narayanasamy told reporters.

Though the deadly attack appears to have demoralised the local Congress unit, which was gaining ground in poll-bound Chhattisgarh over the past few months, central leaders exuded confidence that a new set of leaders would soon carry forward the drive.

"There is no dearth of leaders in the Congress," a senior Congress leader, closely associated with the tribal state, said.

Several Congress leaders IANS spoke to were of the opinion that the party's "parivartan yatra" must go on with full force.

"This is not the time to sit down but to carry on with the parivartan yatra with full force," said another senior Congress leader.

According to these leaders, sympathy generated among the local population after the ghastly incident and public dissatisfaction with the ruling BJP government, would help them gain further ground.

Chhattisgarh would have assembly polls by year end.

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