Maintain focus

The Naxal attack calls for cross-party resolve against a common adversary. It must not be spun for political ends

The Naxal attack on a Congress convoy in Chhattisgarh, which killed two of its most senior members there and created a leadership vacuum for the party, is now being questioned from several quarters. Some ask whether this means a decisive shift by Naxalites, that they are now likely to choose political targets rather than security forces alone, or to kill them rather than hold them hostage. Looking for patterns in Maoist raids may only go so far — after all, surprise is part of the strategy. The circumstances of this attack have been unusual, and may call for closer examination, but Maoists have taken responsibility for it and explained their own rationale.

The Union home ministry has said the state government failed to deploy paramilitary troops in the area, despite being alerted about Naxal movements. Chief Minister Raman Singh has also admitted there may have been security lapses in this case, though political convoys and rallies are usually carefully protected. These senior politicians were all travelling together, across two LWE districts, which is against the normal security drill. The peculiar nature of the attack has even led a Chhattisgarh Congress leader and Union minister to call it a political conspiracy. This kind of accusation and loose talk is unfortunate, at this point. Any misgivings should be clinically investigated, with no blame and no political agendas. A team from the National Investigative Agency has already been sent to look into the shortcomings in preparedness and political parties should avoid conspiracy-mongering. Meanwhile, the BJP is demanding a Supreme Court-appointed Special Investigation Team to probe the incident. This attack should not be spun for political ends. With the assembly election coming up in October or November, both parties should resist the temptation to use this tragedy as campaign material.

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