Kolkata, Feb 18: Mamata Banerjee was conspicuous by her absence at the inauguration of an NSG hub on the outskirts of Kolkata by Union Home Minister P Chidambaram on Saturday, a day after the West Bengal Chief Minister joined the chorus with other chief ministers against a central anti-terror body not accountable to the states.
While mentioning the National Counter Terrorism Centre (NCTC), an elite anti-terror group set to be operational from March 1 but opposed by Mamata Banerjee and several other chief ministers cutting across political spectrum for undermining "federalism", Chidambaram however reminded the role of centre in ensuring the security of the entire country.
Pointing out the role of centre, he said: "We do not distinguish between parties [ruling the states]."
He said internal security is a complex subject and the responsibility is shared by both the states and the centre.
Chidambram referring to the Indian Constitution said "while policing is a state subject, Article 355 says the Centre should secure every part of the country from
external aggression and maintain internal security".
The Union Home Minister, however, thanked Mamata Banerjee for facilitating the NSG hub.
While Mamata Banerjee's name was scratched out of the list of dignitaries in the brochure, Trinamool Congress senior leader and central minister (shipping) Mukul Roy was present at the function.
Dealing a jolt to the Congress-led United Profgressive Alliance (UPA) government, several chief ministers of Indian states, including West Bengal Chief Minister and UPA ally Mamata Banerjee, have united to oppose the NCTC.
Mamata Banerjee has written to Prime Minister Manmohan Singh against Union Home Minister P Chidambaram's 'pet' project saying that it will infringe upon the independence of states and weaken the federal structure of India.
Apart from Banerjee, other chief ministers, including Orissa’s Naveen Patnaik, Bihar’s Nitish Kumar, Tamil Nadu’s J Jayalalithaa, have also opposed the project.
Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi is likely to write a letter to the Prime Minister to voice his concern over the issue.
Speaking to a news channel, Patnaik said he had written a letter to the PM objecting it some days back but has not received a receipt even.
"Any self-respecting chief minister will oppose it," said Patnaik.
He said that the state government was not consulted by the Centre over the issue.
Patnaik said: “The state government has not been consulted. It is the concern of any Chief Minister. We are concerned about the people of the state.”
Meanwhile, reacting over the matter, Home Secretary RK Singh on Friday said that the Central government was not passing any new law.
“We are not passing any new law, the provisions are there in the statue book for seven years now," said Home Secretary RK Singh.
Last month the union cabinet cleared the idea of the NCTC to bolster the security architecture of the country to fight terrorism post the 26/11 Mumbai attack.
The NCTC is planned as an elite counter terrorism body under union home ministry with an IPS officer of the rank of Additional Director General of Police (ADGP), Intelligence Bureau or above heading it as director.
The operations division of NCTC is empowered to arrest and carry out searches under Section 43 (A) of the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act, 1967, a provision opposed by leaders like Mamata and Naveen.