The United Progressive Alliance government seems left with no option but to give a quiet burial to its proposed newest anti-terror body – the National Counter Terrorism Centre (NCTC) – inspired by a U.S. outfit of the same name. Allies and the opposition alike have cornered and embarrassed the government on the NCTC issue, meaning the only honorable way out for the government is to tell the Home Affairs Ministry not to issue the notification for setting up the NCTC until a political consensus is thrashed out.
The government had earlier announced that the NCTC would be operational from March 1, 2012. But this appears to be a pipedream, as at least eight non-UPA chief ministers have already opposed the NCTC. Ally Mamata Banerjee, chief minister of West Bengal, has openly opposed it, while two more UPA allies, the DMK and the National Conference, are reportedly uncomfortable with the idea of NCTC. All the naysayers appear to have a single objection in common: that the move will be a major blow for good center-state relations as the proposed NCTC could potentially usurp the powers of the individual states.
This is yet another example of the shoddy conduct of the Manmohan Singh government during its second tenure. Indeed, the chief ministers of Gujarat and Orissa went as far as shooting off letters to Singh detailing their stiff opposition to the NCTC, despite efforts by union Home Minister P. Chidambaram this week to reach out to the states, arguing that the security of the country is a shared responsibility of the central and state governments.
What seems particularly to have enraged the states is that the NCTC was to be given too many teeth at their expense, including carrying out operations, making arrests and conducting searches and seizures, in addition to the powers it was to be given to command information from all agencies nationwide through whatever means.